Draft Would Overhaul Digital Copyright Enforcement

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.) is floating a plan to revise copyright enforcement, requiring tech companies to take a more active role in policing their sites for piracy by users.

Funding Bills Pass Congress

The House and Senate both voted late Monday on a paired-up package of a COVID-19 relief bill and an omnibus government spending bill loaded with billions of dollars for broadband, new small business loan aid for broadcasters and a provision making the theft of video streams a felony for the first time.

Congress Votes To Raise Media Ownership Diversity

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that reaffirms Congress’ commitment to media diversity and strategy of working with media organizations to better represent the American people. The bill, H. Res 549, was introduced in 2019 by Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.). It’s official wording is: “[A] resolution reaffirming the commitment of the House of Representatives to media diversity … and pledges to work with media entities and diverse stakeholders to develop common ground solutions to eliminate barriers to media diversity.”

Zuckerberg, Dorsey Face Harsh Questioning From Lawmakers

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter testified Tuesday about their platforms, misinformation and the 2020 election.

Social Media CEOs Get Earful On Bias, Warning Of New Limits

The CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google were scolded by Republicans at a Senate hearing Wednesday for alleged anti-conservative bias in the companies’ social media platforms and received a warning of coming restrictions from Congress. Lawmakers of both parties are assessing the companies’ tremendous power to disseminate speech and ideas, and are looking to challenge their long-enjoyed bedrock legal protections for online speech.

3 Social Media CEOs Face GOP Senators

The Senate Commerce Committee has summoned Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai to testify for a hearing Wednesday. The executives agreed to appear remotely after being threatened with subpoenas. With the presidential election looming, Republicans led by President Donald Trump have thrown a barrage of grievances at Big Tech’s social media platforms, which they accuse without evidence of deliberately suppressing conservative, religious and anti-abortion views. Above (l-r): Dorsey, Pichai and Zuckerberg.

Bill Would Check POTUS Power Over Networks

A bill that would limit the president — of either party’s — ability to “shut down the internet” has been introduced. The bill, from Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), would limit the president’s power to “control or shut down communications networks, including the internet.”

House Democrats Slam Pai Over 230

House Democrats blasted FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday over his announcement that the commission would move forward with the Trump administration’s petition to clarify the meaning of a law that grants tech companies a legal liability shield over content posted on their websites by third parties. Democratic leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee accused Pai of attempting to help a “flailing President Trump” through his decision to move forward with the administration’s push to clarify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Simington FCC Confirmation Hearing Set

It looks like Senate Republicans are going to try and get Nathan Simington confirmed to the FCC before the end of the year and the exit of Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who he will be replacing. The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled his confirmation hearing for Nov. 10.

Partisanship Fractures Big Tech Opposition

A House report on how to limit the reach of Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook has been delayed as Democrats and Republicans split on remedies.

Hill Preps For Big Tech Thursday

Thursday will be a busy day on Capitol Hill on the issue of the power of Big Tech and what, if anything, to do about it. The House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee is holding an afternoon hearing on “Proposals to Strengthen the Antitrust Laws and Restore Competition Online.”

VOA Chief Flouts House Subpoena, Angering Reps

The head of the government’s main international broadcasting agency flouted a subpoena for congressional testimony Thursday, angering both Democrats and Republicans already alarmed by his management tactics. Michael Pack, chief executive of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees Voice of America and similar institutions, was issued a subpoena by the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week after he reneged on a promise to appear before the panel citing unspecified “administrative proceedings,” according to the panel’s chairman, Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.)

Republicans Ask DOJ To Prosecute Netflix Over ‘Cuties’

Saying that the Sundance award-winning film Cuties meets the definition of child pornography, almost three dozen Republican members of Congress led by Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana have called on Attorney General Bill Barr to prosecute Netflix for distributing it.

Pai: FCC Not Generally In Business Of Censorship

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has told a member of the House that the agency is generally not in the business of dictating what viewers can and can’t see. Pai was responding to a letter from Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), who was concerned about a TV show, La Comay, airing on Mega TV in Puerto Rico and containing what she called “a pattern of xenophobic and racist remarks.”

NAB, Others Urge Funds For Tower Crew Training

Facing 5G wireless buildouts, broadcast NextGen TV buildouts and the C-band transition, communications associations are pushing Congress to pass legislation to help train the workforce that is needed for those infrastructure deployments.

The 5 Biggest Little Lies Tech CEOs Told Congress

No, Google, we’re not really in control of our data. And yes, Facebook, you profit from harmful information.

Tech Hearing Suggests Antitrust Crackdown Could Come Soon

Analysis: heated exchanges raise concern over anticompetitive behavior as chair warns of companies’ “monopoly power.”

Why The Tech Giants May Suffer Lasting Pain From Their Hill Lashing

Lawmakers investigating Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple made it clear that their allegations of antitrust abuses come with a lengthy paper trail.

House Batters Tech CEOs, Don’t Land Many Blows

Invective flew Wednesday as legislators questioned Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai of Google and Tim Cook of Apple at a hearing of the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust. For the last year, that panel has probed the business practices of the Silicon Valley giants with an eye to determining if they need to be regulated more heavily, or even broken up.

UPDATED, WEDNESDAY, 5:54 PM ET

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