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.

Lindsey Graham Introduces Sec. 230-Killing Bill

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has introduced a bill that would sunset social media networks’ Sec. 230 immunity from civil liability for third-party content moderation. The sunset would not come until Jan. 1, 2023, so the bill is more like a spur to some kind of reform to the section between now and then.

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.

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NC Judge Isn’t Letting Journalists Into Courtroom

Judge Fred Wilkins has given no reason for the order in a county wracked by racial justice protests. That’s causing concern for transparency advocates.

Tech Giants Could Face Huge Fines In UK

Technology giants, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, could face fines of billions of pounds if they fail to remove and limit the spread of harmful online content under U.K. government proposals unveiled on Tuesday. The government of Boris Johnson announced details of its proposed Online Harms Bill, first set in motion by then-Prime Minister Theresa May in the spring of 2019, which aims to tackle child abuse and sexual abuse imagery, terrorist materials, misinformation, and other digital content.

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.

FTC Opens Privacy Study Into Internet Platforms

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday voted to issue orders to nine major internet platforms requiring information about how they handle data for a new study. The orders, which do not implicate any legal wrongdoing, were sent to Amazon, ByteDance (the parent company of TikTok), Discord, Facebook, Reddit, Snap, Twitter, WhatsApp and Youtube. The agency is requesting information about how the platforms collect, use, track or estimate personal and demographic information.

Cable Channels Seek Exemptions From FCC Audio Description Rule

Fox News Channel and MSNBC have asked that the FCC exempt them from the list of top five non-broadcast networks. That is because that exempts them from the commission’s audio description (formerly “video description) rule, which applies to cable and satellite operators carrying the top five cable channels.

COMMENTARY BY MARGARET SULLIVAN

The Voice Of America Is Worth Saving

Margaret Sullivan: The news organization has been under siege by CEO Michael Pack, who claims to be rooting out bias. Will repairing VOA and its sibling organizations really be a top priority for the Biden administration? Given the range of problems Biden is inheriting, that’s hard to imagine. And the broken pieces won’t be so easy to put back together, given everything that’s gone on.

Senate Rebuffs Trump On Section 230 Repeal

Rejecting a demand by President Trump, the Senate on Friday passed a defense-spending bill that doesn’t include a repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The House voted in favor of a similar defense-spending bill earlier in the week. Both chambers passed the bills with veto-proof majorities.

Dee Dee Myers To Be Newsom Economic Adviser

Dee Dee Myers, the first female White House press secretary in history and recently a top executive for Warner Bros., will become the chief economic and business adviser for California Gov. Gavin Newsom as he grapples with a pandemic-stricken economy.

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.

FTC In Cash Crunch As It Sets To Battle Facebook

The Federal Trade Commission has frozen pay and hiring, explored ways of shrinking its staff, and may need to bring fewer expensive cases, its executive director says in internal emails.

CBS, WFOR Hit With Discrimination Lawsuit

A federal magistrate judge in Miami has given the green light for a class-action labor law and sex and age discrimination lawsuit to go forward against CBS Broadcasting. The ruling could have nationwide impact on CBS’s 29 owned-and-operated television stations.

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.

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.”

Why Facebook Antitrust Suits Face Hurdles

The U.S. and states cases against the social network are far from a slam dunk because the standards of proof are formidable.

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

US, States Bring Antitrust Action Against Facebook

The antitrust lawsuits were announced by the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Dish Fined $210M For Telemarketing Violations

The satellite provider will pay a historic civil penalty that tops the total penalties paid to the government by all prior violators of the Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule.

States, Feds Expected To File Antitrust Lawsuits Against Facebook

The filings from more than 40 attorneys general and the U.S. government will allege the tech giant engaged in unlawful tactics to buy or kill off its rivals and solidify its dominance in social networking.

Voice Of America Interim Director Pushed Out

The head of the agency that oversees Voice of America removed the international broadcasting service’s interim director on Tuesday, in a move apparently aimed at asserting greater control over its editorial operations. Michael Pack, a Trump appointee who has made sweeping and controversial changes at VOA and its sister broadcasting networks, pushed out Elez Biberaj, a VOA veteran whom Pack had appointed as the head of the service on an interim basis in June.

Netflix Likely To Get Slapped Down Again Over Executive Poaching

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.

Hill Dems Weigh In On Comcast Plan To Drop Hearst Stations

Four Massachusetts legislators have called on Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and Hearst President Jordan Wertlieb to negotiate in good faith and resolve their carriage dispute so that ABC affiliate WCVB Boston stays on Comcast’s system serving Bristol County, Mass., residents.