Programmers Seek Govt. Pandemic Insurance

An informal group of major media trade groups, unions and some high-powered sports organizations — led by Fox — is asking Congress to pass legislation that would provide “pandemic risk insurance” for businesses attempting to, well, do business during the current pandemic. Among those signing on to the letter were NAB, NCTA, MPA, NFL, SAG-AFTRA and NASCAR.

COMMENTARY

NAB’s Gordon Smith To Congress: Help Foster Ownership Diversity

Gordon Smith: Despite the best efforts of NAB and the many broadcast companies, the number of minority-owned broadcast stations remains disappointingly low. The reason can be summed up in three words: access to capital. Fortunately, there is a tried and true solution in Congress to help aspiring minority broadcasters break into the media landscape.

Bill Banning Microtargeted Political Ads Draws Crowd

Senate Commerce Schedules FCC Hearing

FCC watchers should mark their calendars for June 24. That is when the Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled an FCC oversight hearing featuring all five commissioners, according to the committee. It will be the first such oversight hearing since the COVID-19 pandemic.

GOP Senators Urge FCC Crackdown On Social

Digital rights groups and the ad industry view President Trump’s recent order regarding social media as a threat to the First Amendment. But four Republican senators said Tuesday the order marks an “important step” to addressing “censorship” by social media companies.

Senate Panel Advances Trump Pick To Head Voice Of America

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bitterly divided Senate panel voted along party lines Thursday to advance President Donald Trump’s choice to head the Voice of America and other U.S. government-funded international broadcasters that have been the subject of harsh criticism from the White House. After rejecting eight Democratic requests to postpone the move, the Senate Foreign […]

Senate Broadcast COVID-19 Aid Bill Introduced

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has introduced a Senate bill that would allow TV stations that are part of a larger broadcast group to qualify, individually, for COVID-19 small business “forgivable” loans. The Local News and Emergency Information Act of 2020, mirrors language in the House HEROES Act, but Republicans have signaled the omnibus Democrat-backed aid bill would be DOA in that body. However, there is support from both sides of the aisle for the broadcast aid bill.

Media Could Be Eligible For Paycheck Protection

Media outlets, from TV stations to radio and newspapers, would be eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program as part of an expansion of access to U.S. Small Business Administration loans if a new coronavirus relief plan from the House of Representatives is passed.

Clarke Seeks Payroll Protection For Digital Journos

Rep. Evette Clarke (D-N.Y.) is leading an effort to get some economic security for digital-native journalists during the COVID-19 pandemic. Joined by some two dozen colleagues, Clarke sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) saying that without immediate payroll assistance for those digital journalists’ employers, many formerly profitable media outlets will go under, and their staffs will be out of work.

Top Antitrust Dem Proposes Merger Ban

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), chairman of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, on Thursday proposed a ban on most merger activity amid the coronavirus pandemic. “As millions of businesses struggle to stay afloat, private equity firms and dominant corporations are positioned to swoop in for a buying spree,” the Rhode Island lawmaker said during a teleconferenced speech at an event held by the Open Markets Institute

House Favors Fed Ad Dollars For Local Media

Over half of the members of the House (240) have signed on to a letter to the Trump Administration asking it to direct federal government advertising dollars to local news media. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Marc Veasey (D-Texas) and Bill Flores (R-Texas) had circulated the letter last week seeking their colleagues’ signatures,

Senators Back Local Media COVID-19 Aid

Potential vice presidential pick Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is one of four senators, two Democrats, two Republicans, who are calling for more local broadcasters and newspapers to be included in future COVID-19 small business assistance legislation, pointing out they are essential businesses in helping communities stay safe and informed.

Bipartisan Effort Pushes Local Media Support

House members call on colleagues, President Trump, to support local media during pandemic.

Sen. Warner Urges FCC To Open More TV White Spaces

Trump Signs $2.2T Stimulus Legislation

Acting with unity and resolve unseen since the 9/11 attacks, Washington moved urgently to stem an economic free fall caused by widespread restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus that have shuttered schools, closed businesses and brought American life in many places to a virtual standstill.

House Passes $2.2T Rescue Package

The House approved the sweeping measure by a voice vote, as strong majorities of both parties lined up behind the most colossal economic relief bill in the nation’s history.

Relief Bill Includes $75M For Public Broadcasters

The coronavirus bill specifies that CPB spend the funds to maintain programming and services and to preserve small and rural stations.

What The $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill Means For The Entertainment Industry

Senate Passes $2.2T Coronavirus Package

The unanimous vote Wednesday came despite misgivings on both sides about whether it goes too far or not far enough and capped days of difficult negotiations as Washington confronted a national challenge unlike it has ever faced. The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared somber and exhausted as he announced the vote — and he released senators from Washington until April 20, though he promised to recall them if needed.

Trump, Congress Agree On $2 Trillion Rescue Bill

The urgently needed pandemic response measure is the largest economic rescue measure in history and is intended as a weeks- or months-long patch for an economy spiraling into recession and a nation facing a potentially ghastly toll.

House Subcommittee OKs Tax Certificate Bill

The House Communications Subcommittee has agreed on a bill, H.R. 3957, the “Expanding Broadcast Ownership Opportunities Act of 2019, that would restore the minority ownership tax certificate program as a way to help boost diversity in media ownership, but declined to include an incubator program as part of that effort. It must still be approved by the full Energy & Commerce Committee before it can get a vote in the full House.

Congressional Broadcasters Caucus Formed

Reps. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and Brendan F. Boyle (D-Pa.) today announced the formation of the group, which will be a resource to educate members of Congress about broadcast-related issues and the importance of local radio and television stations to Americans. The mission of the caucus will be focused on discussing and solving issues of importance to the broadcast community

Walden: Hill Needs To Look At OTT Diversity

House Energy & Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) signaled Wednesday that the government needs to start looking at the employment and ownership diversity of over-the-top content providers.

Reporters Wary Of Impeachment Coverage Rules

A preliminary security plan would greatly limit the movement of credentialed media members. Journalists would be restricted to a designated area and could only speak to senators who approached them. Under normal conditions, credentialed journalists can informally approach lawmakers in the hallways or on the way to the elevator or the Senate subway.

This Man May Be Big Tech’s Biggest Threat

Democrat Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who leads the Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, doesn’t just want to enforce the laws governing the tech industry. He wants to change them.

FCC Takes Some Lumps At Oversight Hearing

The FCC and its Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, took hits from both sides of the aisle in an oversight hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee Thursday (Dec. 5).

Nadler Offers Latest STELAR Renewal Effort

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has introduced yet another version of a STELAR renewal bill, the “Satellite Television Community Protection and Promotion Act (STCPP) of 2019.” There are already Senate Commerce and House Energy & Commerce versions of a bill that would renew the satellite compulsory distant signal license and the mandate that broadcasters and MVPDs negotiate carriage deals with each other in good faith.

STELAR Reauthorization Pulled From Markup

According to multiple sources, the STAR Act stellar reauthorization bill is being pulled from today’s (Nov. 13) markup in the Senate Commerce Committee. Broadcasters oppose reauthorization, while MVPDs support it.

Graham Proposes STELAR Sunset Transition Plan

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which shares jurisdiction over the issue with Commerce, is putting a thumb on the scale for the sunset of the compulsory license that allows satellite providers to import distant network-affiliated TV signals into markets that lack them without having to negotiate individually for the license with broadcasters.

Hill Hammers Zuckerberg Over Controversies

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday fielded sharp criticism and tough questions about nearly all aspects of his company’s business practices at a hearing about Facebook’s new cryptocurrency project Libra. The aggressive questioning underlined how difficult it will be for the Libra project to move past the baggage of Facebook’s various controversies, which have angered lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Senate Takes Long Look At STELAR

The Senate took a wide look and a deep dive into the issues surrounding STELAR renewal Wednesday in a hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee. Cable operators, who want the law renewed, had to be pleased by the first bit of info that surfaced.

Senators Want Portable Social Media Data

Three U.S. lawmakers active in tech issues will introduce a bill requiring social networks like Facebook to allow users to pack up their data and go elsewhere, Sen. Mark Warner’s office said in a statement on Tuesday. The senators, Republican Josh Hawley and Democrats Warner and Richard Blumenthal, are introducing the bill at a time when there is growing concern that Facebook, along with Alphabet’s Google, have become so powerful that smaller rivals are unable to lure away their users.

THE PRICE POINT

The Price Point | Archaic STELAR Must Be Allowed To Sunset

Hank Price: “Allowing STELAR to finally die a natural death at the end of this year means the free market system would return, bringing fairness along for good measure. Sunsetting STELAR means DirecTV would no longer have the right to retransmit stations without their permission.

Pai To Hill: Repack Is About 66% Over

The FCC’s repack of 1,000 TV stations into smaller spectrum quarters is almost two-thirds of the way to completion, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told a Senate oversight hearing audience Thursday (Oct. 17), and has proven to be a smooth transition.

STATION ADVISORY

More Challenges For E-Cigarette Ads

Even though advertising for e-cigarettes is not currently illegal at the federal level, there are moves to change that position (including the announcement last month of an anticipated ban on flavored vaping products).

House Panel Seeks End To E-Cigarette Ads

A House of Representatives panel sent letters to four e-cigarette companies asking them to stop all print, broadcast and digital advertising of their products in the United States, the same day as market-leader Juul said it would pull its ads, the panel said on Thursday.

Newspaper Execs Lobby To Fight Big Tech

Executives from seven newspaper companies lobbied Capitol Hill this week to urge Congress to pass the “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act,” a bill that fights the dominance of tech companies like Google and Facebook in the digital content business.

NAB Launches 2019 Congressional PSAs

The public service program features 303 members of Congress and their family members.

RETRANS

Nexstar Stations Overstate Hill Blackout Letters

Retrans battles are known for their gamesmanship, but Nexstar’s characterization of some of the Hill pushback on the ongoing retrans impasse with AT&T’s DirecTV drew the ire of one local paper, some MVPD fans, and, ultimately, some corrections.

Congress Grills Big Tech On Competition, Money

A Tuesday afternoon panel of the House Judiciary Committee focused on whether it’s time for Congress to rein in these companies, which are among the largest on Earth by several measures. Central to that case is whether their business practices run afoul of century-old laws originally designed to combat railroad and oil monopolies.