With billions of political ad dollars on the line, broadcasters are working hard to make sure a new Federal Communications Commission ruling does not take even a little bite out of their share of that likely record political pie. Broadcasters want the FCC to loosen up when it comes to the reporting requirements for political ads — rules they say could lead to them having to turn down political ad dollars. The reporting obligation stems from the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, but the FCC has discretion in how it interprets the requirements in its rules implementing that law.
Chairman Ajit Pai and the rest of the Federal Communications Commission took hits from both sides of the aisle in a House Communications Subcommittee oversight hearing Dec 5. Democratic Reps were particularly pointed in their criticisms of the FCC over broadband mapping, internet deregulation, merger approvals, and the funding cap on the Universal Service Fund, among other issues.
The US House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to approve the bipartisan Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED Act), a Senate bill (S. 151) that would crack down on unwanted robocalls. The vote was 417-3. The bill has already passed the Senate so it now heads to the President's desk. Among other things, the bill would give the Federal Communications Commission civil fining authority of up to $20,000 per call for those who "intentionally flout" telemarketing restrictions.
Don’t be surprised if the Federal Communications Commission and National Association of Broadcasters ask the US Supreme Court to weigh in on broadcast ownership deregulation. That comes after the full 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals refused to hear the FCC’s appeal, supported by NAB as an intervenor, of a lower court decision to throw out most of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's deregulation order. That order included eliminating the newspaper-broadcast and radio-TV cross-ownership rules.
US Chief Technology Office Michael Kratsios has tapped Federal Communications Commission veteran Eric Burger to a top network security post.
The House Commerce Committee approved a handful of bipartisan broadband and tech-related bills on a variety of topics, from broadband mapping and network security to freeing up spectrum. “Bills being favorably reported for a vote in the full House were:
The House Small Business Committee took its turn at running Big Tech through another Hill gauntlet at a hearing titled "A Fair Playing Field? Investigating Big Tech’s Impact on Small Business." Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) started the hearing by praising Amazon and Google for agreeing to send witnesses, and pointing to the two empty chairs for no-shows Facebook and Apple.
The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications and Technology advanced nine bills in a markup session Nov 14. Eight of the bills moved with little controversey:
The House Antitrust Subcommittee heard from two major players in the government's review of Big Tech and whether the antitrust laws have kept up with their exponential growth, but not before the legislators had staked out their own positions. Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D-RI) pulled no punches, saying that the extreme concentration of online platforms may have some benefits, but they were clearly using their power to set market terms that enrich themselves and make it impossible to compete. He also commented on Google and Fitbit.
The Federal Communications Commission has upheld an AT&T complaint against a number of TV station groups for failure to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith, a move pay-TV operators are hoping adds fuel to their argument for renewal of the satellite compulsory license law that includes that good faith mandate. The FCC didn't fine the stations, but left that big stick in sight, saying it reserved the right to take future enforcement actions, including potential fines or forfeitures (likely levied if the stations did not negotiate in good faith going forward). The complaints wer