Where Are President Biden’s Telecom Picks?

Nearly eight months into his presidency, jOE Biden has yet to pick permanent leaders for the Federal Communications Commission and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which together oversee and set policy for the broadcast and Internet service industries. For the FCC, that’s slower than any president since Jimmy Carter in 1977 — just by a few days — and for NTIA, it’s the longest ever since the agency’s founding in 1978.

New York’s Highest Court To Hear Orioles-Nats TV Dispute

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the long-running dispute between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals over television rights fees. The court, the highest in the state, on Sept. 2 granted the the Orioles’ motion for permission to appeal. MASN was established in March 2005 after the […]

FCC Announces Sept. 24 Regulatory Fee Deadline

Each year with the end of summer comes an announcement from the FCC as to how it is divvying up its operating costs to then charge its regulatees in the form of regulatory fees.  This annual ritual, required by Congress, makes the FCC virtually unique among federal agencies in funding its operations by passing the hat among those it regulates (and then charging them a fee to process each application to boot). Being told how much broadcasters must pay to be regulated is never welcome news, but this year there is at least some upside, as broadcasters’ fees will be nearly 10% less than originally proposed, with most broadcasters’ 2021 fees being the same or less than last year’s.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

Texas Passes Bill Prohibiting Social Media Companies From ‘Censoring’ Posts

Lawmakers in Texas have passed a bill that would prohibit Facebook, Twitter, Google and other large social media companies from blocking, demoting or demonetizing posts based on political viewpoint. Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign the measure, which will almost certainly face a legal challenge.

China Bans Men It Sees As Not Masculine Enough From TV

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government banned effeminate men on TV and told broadcasters Thursday to promote “revolutionary culture,” broadening a campaign to tighten control over business and society and enforce official morality. President Xi Jinping has called for a “national rejuvenation,” with tighter Communist Party control of business, education, culture and religion. Companies and the […]

Biden Faces Looming Deadline For FCC Pick As Acting Chair’s Term Winds Down

Since January, the FCC has been deadlocked in a 2-2 partisan split, and the White House has yet to nominate a new commissioner to complete the agency’s typical five-person lineup. With Congress about to emerge from its August recess, President Joe Biden has four months before the end of the calendar year to make a pick. Policy experts indicated that September is a reasonable time to expect an announcement, notably when the U.S. House of Representatives votes on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package.

Justice Releases More Details On Secret Seizures Of Journalists’ Records

The Biden Justice Department on Wednesday released a more detailed accounting of recently revealed federal law enforcement efforts to secretly obtain journalists’ phone records, attempting to honor a public commitment to transparency and disclosing for the first time that Attorney General Merrick Garland personally approved keeping one case under wraps.

Justice Dept. Said To Accelerate Google Ad Inquiry

The moves may result in a second antitrust lawsuit against Google before the end of the year.

Locast Suspends Contribution Request Interruptions

Locast, the local TV station streaming services, said late Wednesday that it was suspending its interruptions to its programming to ask those who have not contributed to the service to do so. Locast has argued since its inception that it is eligible for a nonprofit exemption from copyright laws, but the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York this week agreed with the broadcast networks, who challenged that nonprofit status.

September Regulatory Dates For Broadcasters

As fall approaches and kids head back to school, be sure not to lose track of the regulatory dates and deadlines in September. One date is applicable to all commercial broadcasters, the obligation to pay regulatory fees.  While the exact due date has not yet been announced, look for that announcement any day as the commission adopted the decision setting those fees last week.

COMMENTARY BY MARGARET SULLIVAN

Congress Should Toss A Lifeline To Local News

Bipartisan support in Congress has gathered for the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, and its supporters believe there’s a decent chance it will be a part of the huge spending bill that Congress is now focusing on. The proposal, which provides a series of tax credits rather than direct grants, is intended to give local newspapers, digital-only publications and other local news organizations a chance to be financially viable as they figure out how to make their way in the new digital world.

Broadcasters Victorious As Judge Rules Against Locast

The four major U.S. broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox — have emerged victorious in a lawsuit against Locast, a nonprofit that enables — or they say, basically steals — local TV streams. Plaintiffs — the stations — asked a judge to throw out Locast’s claim that its online service is legally exempt from copyright infringement liability because it seeks only donations, not fees, from users, and only enough to keep its business running. Locast wanted a finding that it is exempt.

Cable Ops To FCC: Rethink ATSC 3.0 Retrans

Cable operators want the FCC to reconsider whether broadcasters should be able to use carriage of their primary ATSC 1.0 TV station signal to leverage carriage of new ATSC 3.0 signals, as is the case under current FCC rules. That came in a meeting between NCTA representatives and Media Bureau officials last week to talk about the National Association of Broadcasters petition related to ATSC 3.0 carriage.

Former Netflix Software Engineer, Brother Plead Guilty To Million-Dollar Insider Trading Scheme

One of the three former Netflix software engineers charged with insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission has pleaded guilty. Sung Mo Jun, 49, and his brother Joon Jun, 45, pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to securities fraud stemming from their roles in an insider trading ring that they say generated more than $1 million in illegal proceeds, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman.

Antenna Company Informally Objects To KVVU Sale

Over-the-air TV antenna marketer Mr. Antenna Las Vegas has asked the FCC to block the transfer of the license of KVVU Henderson to Gray Television, which is buying the station from Meredith, or alternatively condition the sale. Mr. Antenna cited what it claimed was a station policy under Meredith of not selling spot advertising time to the company.

Former KWWL Iowa Anchor Found Not Guilty of Assault

FCC Won’t Make Broadcasters Pay Share Of Broadband Mapping

In a victory for local broadcasters, the FCC has decided not to make them shoulder some of the costs of the FCC’s congressional mandate to collect better data on broadband, but, for now, won’t make Big Tech pay an FCC user fee for the benefit that tech companies receive from unlicensed spectrum or FCC-administered broadband subsidies.

Former ‘GMA’ Top Producer Accused Of Sexual Assault In Lawsuit

An ABC News staffer filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Michael Corn, the former top producer of Good Morning America, alleging he sexually assaulted her and fostered a toxic work environment. Kirstyn Crawford, a producer on the morning show, alleged that Corn assaulted her in 2015 during a business trip to Los Angeles, according to the suit, which was filed in New York state court.

Ex-Iowa Anchor Hopes Her Age Bias Lawsuit Changes TV News

A year after WHO-TV Des Moines, Iowa, abruptly let her go, Sonya Heitshusen filed an age and gender discrimination lawsuit Tuesday against WHO’s parent company, Nexstar Media Group. The lawsuit alleges Heitshusen, 54, was “thrown out to pasture” because she was no longer seen as camera-worthy, after years in which she saw her male colleagues receive better treatment from management.

Trump Seeks Court Order Forcing YouTube To Restore Channel

Former President Donald Trump on Monday urged a federal court to order YouTube to quickly restore his former channel on the online video-sharing platform. In a 39-page request for an injunction, Trump’s lawyers argue that his permanent suspension from YouTube is causing him “irreparable injury,” because he is being deprived of “his donor and merchandising platforms,” as well as his ability to endorse political candidates.

Facebook’s Stealth M&A Puts Focus On Deals Under Antitrust Radar

Last year, Facebook Inc. did something U.S. technology giants have done countless times before: It bought a smaller company and closed the deal without notifying competition regulators. But this transaction — the $400 million acquisition of image library Giphy Inc. — was particularly bold. At the time, Facebook was under investigation by antitrust enforcers for what the government says was an illegal practice of buying companies in order to eliminate them as potential threats to its monopoly power. Maneuvers like Giphy’s make policing deals all the more challenging at a time when authorities are being called on to take more aggressive steps to curb the growth of dominant companies, especially in the technology industry.

‘The Young And The Restless’ Showrunner Accused Of Sexually Harassing Actress

Anthony Morina , the executive producer of The Young and the Restless allegedly made repeated advances toward actress Briana Thomas, commented on her body, offered her a “private acting lesson” and had her fired when she rebuffed him, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday against Morina and Sony Pictures Television.

FTC Bulks Up Antitrust Complaint Against Facebook

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday filed a revised, and significantly lengthier, antitrust complaint against Facebook, in an attempt to persuade a federal judge to allow the prosecution to proceed. Facebook “unlawfully acquired innovative competitors with popular mobile features that succeeded where Facebook’s own offerings fell flat or fell apart,” the agency stated Thursday in a post summarizing its new complaint.

Ex-Netflix Employees Accused Of $3.1 Million Insider Trading Scheme

Five people, including three former Netflix employees, used confidential subscriber growth information to illegally trade in Netflix stock, netting $3.1 million, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint filed on Wednesday.

Exploring Bills To Revive Tax Certificates To Foster Diversity In Station Ownership

The minority tax certificate is back in the news with revised bills being introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The tax certificate offers perhaps the most meaningful route to increasing diversity in broadcast ownership. While the certificate was abolished by Congress over 25 years ago, these new bills signaling the potential for its revival merits another examination of what this policy did and why it was effective, and what is now being proposed.

FTC Expected To Reveal New Strategy In Facebook Antitrust Fight

The Federal Trade Commission this week is expected to lay out its new legal strategy in an ongoing antitrust battle with Facebook that will also reveal how FTC chief Lina Khan plans to take on the market power of U.S. tech giants. The FTC has until Thursday to disclose whether it plans to proceed with the case after a major courtroom setback earlier this year. The agency is largely expected to move forward, and is likely to do so by filing an amended complaint.

Appeals Court Affirms MSNBC Win In ‘Russian Propaganda’ Suit

MSNBC and Rachel Maddow have again prevailed in a libel suit brought by Herring Networks, the owner of One America News Network (OAN). On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s ruling that Maddow’s statement about the Trump-friendly network isn’t actionable.

Court Dismisses Avenatti Defamation Suit Against Fox News

A judge has ruled in favor of Fox News in rejecting a defamation suit by attorney Michael Avenatti, granting Fox’s request that the suit be dismissed. The suit was dismissed without prejudice, meaning Avenatti could refile the suit.

Discovery Vows To Keep Polish Media Company

A Discovery Inc. executive said Friday that the U.S.-owned company will fight hard to keep control of a television network it owns in Poland, a $3 billion investment that is threatened by a new media bill that passed in parliament this week.

TVN’S FRONT OFFICE BY MARY COLLINS

No ‘30-Second Rule’: Does Your Company Take Copyright Issues Seriously?

Between confusing copyright laws and the ability to easily lift and use video, audio and photographs for their own purposes, many companies in the media industry either don’t understand or don’t take seriously enough the risks of repurposing creative materials. Here are the top copyright pitfalls you should make sure your company understands, and avoids.