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4 Big Tech CEOs Get Grilled By Congress

The powerful executives sought to defend their companies amid intense grilling by lawmakers on Wednesday. The executives provided bursts of data showing how competitive their markets are, and the value of their innovation and essential services to consumers. But they sometimes struggled to answer pointed questions about their business practices. They also confronted a range of other concerns about alleged political bias, their effect on U.S. democracy and their role in China.

Sen. Inhofe Puts Hold On O’Rielly Nomination

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has reportedly put a hold on the renomination of Republican FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly over the senator’s opposition to the FCC’s decision to approve Ligado’s use of satellite spectrum for terrestrial broadband.

Spotlight On 4 Big Tech CEOs Testifying Wed.

On Wednesday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Tim Cook of Apple will answer for their companies’ practices before Congress for the first time as a group. Summoned for a House hearing, they’ll raise a hand (remotely) and swear to tell the truth, in the manner of tycoons of Wall Street or the tobacco industry in earlier high-octane televised shamings.

Congress Delays Tech Antitrust Hearing

Congress will have to wait a little longer to grill Mark Zuckerberg and other top tech CEOs about their companies’ apparent market dominance. Originally scheduled for Monday, the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee has decided to postpone the hearing so that members of Congress can recognize the memory of Rep. John Lewis who is lying in state at the U.S. Capitol from Monday through Wednesday.

O’Rielly Nomination Advances To Full Senate

The nomination of Republican FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly for a new, five-year, term on the FCC has been favorably reported out of the Senate Commerce Committee and now moves to the full Senate for a vote.

Group Seeks Federal Protection For Journalists

The News Media for Open Government Coalition is renewing its call for passage of a bill to protect journalists. The Journalist Protection Act, which was introduced in a previous Congress, would “make it a federal crime to intentionally cause bodily injury or threaten a journalist in a manner designed to intimidate him or her from gathering or reporting the news.”

Local Broadcasters Seek COVID Relief

Associations representing local broadcasters in all 50 states, the District and Columbia and Puerto Rico sent a letter to Congress, urging legislators to provide relief for local media so that it can “continue to serve their vital roles in informing Americans and keeping them safe.” Specifically, the letter asks Congress to see that local media has access to the Paycheck Protection Program and receive federal support for advertising.

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.