Thune Heads Sen. Communications Subcommittee

As expected, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) has switched places with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and will head the Senate Commerce Committee’s Communications Subcommittee in the new Congress. Wicker is succeeding Thune as chair of the Commerce Committee — Thune has been named minority whip and the rules prevent him from holding the chairmanship and the “whipping” post, as it were.

GOP To FCC: Stop Until Trump Sworn In

Barack Obama is still the president of the United States until Jan. 20, but Republican senators don’t want the FCC to do much of anything before Donald Trump takes over. In a Wednesday letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler — one day before the commission is set to meet — Sen. John Thune urged the agency not to take on any “complex, partisan, or otherwise controversial” initiatives, and said anything the FCC did or plans to do post-election day will get a closer look.

Thune Blasts Wheeler On Secrecy

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) is calling on FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to release the FCC’s latest proposal on rules for pay television set-top boxes.

Sen. Thune Accuses Wheeler Of Partisanship

Sen Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune lit into FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler from the floor of the Senate Thurs, criticizing press leaks and accusing him of partisanship.

Reid Holds Up Bill Over FCC Nomination

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is holding up legislation backed by Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) in an escalating war over the re-nomination of an FCC commissioner. A spokesperson suggested the hold is linked to Republicans’ unwillingness to confirm Jessica Rosenworcel for a second term.

JESSELL AT LARGE

Facebook Needs To Stand Up For 1st Amend.

After news of how Facebook compiles its “Trending” stories broke, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune sent Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg a letter in which he tries to probe deeply into Facebook editorial processes. Zuckerberg needs to put on his publisher hat and decline. Thune has no more business making such demands of Zuckerberg than he does making them of New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger. Thune’s letter is an affront to all First Amendment speakers.

Wheeler: FCC’s Exclusivity Rules ‘Redundant’

The chairman tells Senate members who oppose his plan to drop the FCC’s network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity rules that the rules are unnecessary and may actually hinder “the market from operating in a fair and efficient manner” and could aggravate “the harm to consumers during retransmission consent disputes.”

Senators Urge Wheeler To Keep Exclusivity

Chuck Grassley, Patrick Leahy, John Thune and Bill Nelson tell the FCC chairman that the rules should remain until a comprehensive review can be made of them and cable compulsory copyright license.

B’casters Air Concerns Over STAVRA Draft

The chairs of the ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC Affiliate Boards say the current draft of the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act still includes provisions that are unfair to broadcasters and undermine viewers’ free access to local TV programming.

State Broadcasters Oppose ‘Local Choice’

The 50 state groups tell Sens. Jay Rockefeller and John Thune that their retrans reform proposal creating a broadcast-only a la carte system of payment by cable subs “will diminish broadcast localism and harm consumers without actually providing consumers meaningful choice or meaningful cost savings [and] will likely become the slippery ‘a la carte’ slope that broadly upsets a vibrant and functioning video marketplace.”

Broadcast Front Group Rejects Retrans Plan

The broadcaster advocacy group TVFreedom is pushing back on a new Senate retrans reform plan that would let cable and satellite subscribers pay for only the broadcast channels they want to watch. The “Local Choice” proposal from Sens. Jay Rockefeller and John Thune hits broadcasters too hard and does too little to change other problems in the marketplace, according to TVFreedom Director of Public Affairs Robert Kenny.

Rockefeller-Thune Would Overhaul Retrans

Their “Local Choice” plan would, in effect, let cable and satellite customers order TV stations on an a la carte basis, paying the stations’ price, thereby eliminating the retrans negotiation process.