Acting FCC Chair Rosenworcel Staffs Up

Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has assembled her team after getting the nod for the interim (at least) post last week. She had been widely expected to get the acting chair post so there was plenty of time to ponder the acting staff she has lined up.

Biden’s FCC, FTC Choices Signal Major Shift

President Biden on Thursday appointed Rebecca Kelly Slaughter acting chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission and Jessica Rosenworcel as acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission. The two appointments reflect the tectonic political shift underway in Washington as Democrats, newly in charge of the White House and Congress, prepare to roll back a slew of deregulatory actions implemented under President Donald Trump.

Rosenworcel Named Acting FCC Chair

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel is tapped by President Biden to lead the agency.

FCC Modifies DTS Rules For ATSC 3.0 Flexibility

The FCC released an update to its DTS (distributed transmission system) coverage rules to expand the permissible range of signal spillover and replace the subjective “minimal amount” language used to describe spillovers as a way to promote ATSC 3.0 reaching its full potential. The change gives broadcasters more flexibility in placement of DTS transmitters.

Supreme Court Hears Argument Over FCC Media Ownership Rules

On the final full day of the presidency of Donald J. Trump, his administration urged the Supreme Court to allow media ownership rules to change despite some who believe the move would hurt female and minority ownership of broadcast outlets. A high court with three Trump appointees could grant such wish, although the forthcoming decision figures to be prelude to more battles ahead.

FCC’s Simington: From The Prairie To The Capital

Nathan Simington got the unexpected nod from President Donald Trump last fall to join the FCC, a nomination he said he was surprised to receive but is clearly determined to make the most of. the former NTIA official talks about his road from rural (and urban) Saskatchewan to a seat on the FCC, outlines his regulatory philosophy, pushes back on criticism from Hill Democrats and explains his take on the hot-button debate over Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the legal provision that protects social media platforms from liability for what their users post.

C-SPAN Airing Supreme Court Vetting Of Media Ownership Dereg Arguments

C-SPAN will air/stream the Supreme Court oral argument today (Jan. 19) in FCC v. Prometheus. That is the FCC’s defense of its 2017 broadcast ownership deregulation decision. The argument is scheduled for 10 a.m.

FCC Warns About Using Radio Services To Coordinate Illegal Activity

Citing discussions on social media media of using alternatives to social media platforms for “coordinating future activities,” the FCC Sunday (Jan. 17) warned about using any of those communications alternatives to commit or facilitate any criminal acts. The warning came from the Enforcement Bureau in advance of Wednesday’s Inauguration of Joe Biden as president and chatter about violence nationwide by Trump supporters.

FCC TV Station Merger Paper: Localism May Sometimes Eclipse Viewpoint Diversity

The FCC’s Office of Economics and Analytics has issued a working paper giving the next FCC something to think about when it decides whether to allow mergers that reduce the number of station owners in a market. The paper, which was issued only days before the FCC heads to the Supreme Court -to  defend its efforts to deregulate TV station ownership, looks at the relationship between the number of independently owned local television news operations and market size and the size thresholds above which a market will be able to sustain, economically, two, three or four or more such operations.

Pai Has Issues With Permanent Trump Social Media Bans

In response to a question on his last press call, outgoing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he has some issues with the permanent bans on President Trump’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, adding that he recognized the country was going through difficult times “and these are difficult questions to confront.”

Rosenworcel: Digital Connections Can Counter Divisiveness Of Insurrection

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who is widely expected to be named acting FCC chair next week — and perhaps more than acting — used a portion of her statement on the FCC’s first meeting of the new year and last meeting for chairman Ajit Pai to talk a little about the recent violence at the Capitol from the vantage of someone who frequented its halls as a top staffer.

Frontier To FCC: Gray Retrans Impasse is About Value Of Signal

Frontier has told the FCC that its beef with Gray Television is over the value of the TV signal and that Gray’s retransmission consent complaint against Frontier “lacks any basis in fact or law.” Gray formally complained to the FCC that Frontier was not negotiating in good faith and did not give is customers “as soon as possible” notice of a potential blackout, both of which are required under FCC rules.

Ajit Pai Says He’s Leaving FCC Better Than He Found It

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who is exiting the commission Jan. 20, said his reforms of the agency since taking over in 2017 have fundamentally changed the FCC for the better. In a virtual address to the Free State Foundation, Pai took something of a victory lap, outlining the ways he thought his process reforms had made the agency more transparent and effective, by clearing out the regulatory underbrush, a pledge he made early on.

FCC’s New Comish, Nathan Simington, Staffs Up

New FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington has begun staffing up, though all in “acting” roles. According to his office, he has named Tyler Bridegan as acting media adviser, Erion Boone as acting wireless adviser and Jonathan Cannon as acting wireline adviser.

Time Running Out For FCC To Take Up Trump Attack On Social Media

The FCC has run low on time to adopt an order trimming a liability shield for social media companies, leaving the fate of a request from President Donald Trump in doubt. Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai let slip a Wednesday deadline for setting a vote on the proposal at the next monthly meeting of the agency, which is scheduled for Jan. 13 and is the last before he leaves the commission a week later.

FCC Extends Some Filing Deadlines

The FCC is extending Dec. 24 filing deadlines essentially at the behest of the president. That is due to President Trump’s Dec. 11 executive order closing agencies and executive departments on Christmas Eve. According to FCC rules, if a filing deadline falls on a holiday, which the executive order makes Dec. 24, they must be filed on the next business day, which would be Monday, Dec. 28.

FCC Approves Univision Sale to SearchLight

The FCC’s Media Bureau has approved the Univision Holdings sale of majority ownership interest in the Spanish-language media company and its broadcast properties (65 TV stations and 58 radio stations) to investment firms Searchlight Capital Partners and ForgeLight. The bureau’s approval is conditioned on the sale of three Puerto Rico TV stations — WLII and two satellites, WSUR and WOLE — to comply with FCC local ownership rules.

CWA Supports Fuse Media’s Discrimination Complaints Against AT&T

Florida Rep. Writes Pai Over Gray-Frontier Retrans Blackout

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) has written FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to stick up for Gray Television’s WWSB Sarasota, Fla., in a retrans fight with Frontier Cable. Citing a failure to reach a retrans agreement with Frontier, WWSB used some in-house news reporting last week to relay that it had been pulled from the cable system Friday (Dec. 18) after WWSB offered to keep the signal on at current terms while they continued to negotiate.

FCC Grants Fox Another Temporary Waiver for WWOR-New York Post

Pointing out that the fate of its newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule is in legal limbo, the FCC’s Media Bureau has denied Fox Corp.’s request for a permanent waiver to own both WWOR Secaucus, N.J., and the New York Post, instead granting it another temporary waiver.

Simington Announces FCC Presence Via Twitter

New FCC commissioner Nathan Simington announced is presence, at least virtual presence, at the FCC Wednesday with the first tweet from is @SimingtonFCC twitter account. “Good morning to all,” he tweeted. “I am very happy to be online as a member of @FCC. I look forward to working with @AjitPaiFCC, @BrendanCarrFCC, @GeoffreyStarks, @JRosenworcel, and the incredible FCC staff to oversee and advance telecommunications in the public interest.”

Pai Urges Media Ownership Reforms

In what is likely to be one of his last major speeches as FCC chairman, Ajit Pai used a good portion of his time speaking virtually with the Media Institute on Tuesday, Dec. 15, about the continued fight over new media ownership rules.

Nathan Simington Sworn In As FCC Commissioner

Nathan Simington is officially an FCC commissioner. Following his nomination by the Senate last week, Simington was sworn in on Dec. 14 by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Fuse Media: AT&T Discriminated Against It

Fuse Media has filed a complaint with the FCC charging that AT&T and its DirecTV unit are illegally discriminating against it in carriage negotiations and that AT&T’s behavior could drive Fuse into bankruptcy.

FCC Doubles Down On OTT As Cable Competitor

The FCC has granted Cox and Comcast petitions for “effective competition” determinations in a number of Massachusetts counties, citing over-the-top service AT&T Now as the effective competitor.

Michael O’Rielly Exits The FCC

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly has apparently made his official exit from the commission after seven years. O’Rielly’s FCC Twitter account was no longer active Thursday night and stakeholders were weighing in following his final meeting. That came Thursday (Dec. 10) following the FCC’s December meeting — which featured praise from his colleagues and FCC staffers — and the confirmation earlier this week of his successor, Nathan Simington.

FCC To Promote Broadcast Internet Via 3.0

The FCC is throwing its support behind Broadcast Internet, approving a Report & Order that updates the rules and fee structure related to Broadcast Internet services made possible by ATSC 3.0. Among the potential Broadcast Internet services is datacasting.

New FCC Commissioner’s Arrival Signals Gridlock Early Next Year

The Senate’s confirmation of Nathan Simington to the FCC on Tuesday guarantees a 2-2 partisan deadlock once Ajit Pai steps down as chairman when President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Democrats and digital rights groups worry that Republicans will try to block any Biden nominee for FCC chairman, effectively hamstringing the agency and delaying the expected reimplementation of Obama-era net neutrality rules.

FCC Drops Proceeding To Dedicate TV Channel In Each Market To Unlicensed Wireless Use

D.C. Weighs In On Simington Confirmation To FCC

Senate Confirms Simington For FCC Seat

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the FCC nomination of Nathan Simington, a senior Trump administration official who has helped lead a regulatory effort seeking to rein in social media companies at the agency. His appointment will lead to a 2-2 partisan deadlock on Jan. 20, when Republican Chairman Ajit Pai steps down and leaves the agency.

Senate Will Vote On Simington FCC Nomination

A divided Senate has begun the process of voting on Nathan Simington’s nomination to the FCC, expected to draw plenty of floor pushback from unhappy Democrats before a final vote later in the day.

Senate Dems Aim To Block Simington

Two Senate Democrats —  Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut (l) and Ron Wyden (Ore.) — and a coalition of digital rights groups are hoping to derail the confirmation of telecom lawyer Nathan Simington to the FCC, arguing that his appointment during the lame-duck session would hamper President-Elect Joe Biden’s policy agenda.

Senate Commerce OKs Simington Nomination

The Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday voted 14-12 along party lines to advance the nomination of controversial telecom lawyer Nathan Simington to the FCC. If confirmed by the full Senate, President-elect Joe Biden will begin his term with the FCC evenly split between Democrats and Republicans — which could hamper his goal of restoring net neutrality rules.

Fox Seeks Permanent Waiver To Co-Own New York Post and WWOR

In something of a blast from the past for those who have followed the peripatetic course of New York Post-related waivers, Fox Television Stations has asked the FCC for a permanent waiver of the newspaper-broadcast crossownership rule for WWOR Secaucus, N.J. It already has a permanent waiver to own WNYW New York, dating back to 1993, but only a temporary waiver to own WWOR, which it bought in 2001.

Senate Commerce To Vote On Simington Nom

The SenateCommerce Committee plans to vote Wednesday on the nomination of Nathan Simington for the Republican FCC seat being vacated by Michael O’Rielly at year’s end, according to a group opposed to his confirmation. If Simington is confirmed by the full Senate, still an open question, the FCC will be at 2-2 when chairman Ajit Pai leaves Jan. 20, putting pressure on the Biden Administration to nominate, vet, and confirm a third Democrat so they have a majority.

Ajit Pai To Leave FCC On Jan. 20

The chairman says “It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve at the Federal Communications Commission, including as chairman … over the past four years. I am grateful to President Trump for giving me the opportunity to lead the agency in 2017, to President Obama for appointing me as a commissioner in 2012, and to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and the Senate for twice confirming me.”

Rosenworcel Eyed As Key Contender For Top FCC Job

The FCC will soon shift to Democratic control, and speculation has already begun about who will assume the chairmanship under the Biden administration. Jessica Rosenworcel, the senior Democrat on the commission, is widely considered to be one of the leading candidates to succeed Ajit Pai in the powerful regulatory post. She has been vetted twice and would likely have a smooth path to confirmation, which would be a key consideration assuming the Senate remains in Republican hands.

SCOTUS Sets TV Ownership Dereg Oral Argument

Turns out Jan. 19 will be an inauguration day of sorts — inaugurating the Supreme Court’s first consideration of an appeal of the FCC’s media ownership rule deregulation. It will be the fourth oral argument of the January session, with one hour of argument scheduled, though that could spill over depending on how the arguments and Justices’ questioning goes.

FCC Seeks Comments On NextGen Petition

The FCC is seeking comment on a National Association of Broadcasters petition to clarify the application of the FCC’s ATSC 3.0 (NextGen TV) rules to multicast streams. Those are the extra channels broadcasters got in the switch to digital.