October 27, 2017 (FCC's November Agenda)


A peak at next week’s agenda https://www.benton.org/calendar/2017-10-29--P1W

   An Energetic November - FCC Chairman Pai press release
   Pai Lifeline Proposal is Sad for Anyone Who Believes in Truly Universal Service - Benton press release
   Benton Asks FCC to Walk the First Amendment Talk When Considering Broadcast Ownership Rules - press release

   GAO to investigate Trump's voter fraud commission [links to Hill, The]
   Twitter Overstated Number of Users for Three Years
   Russia threatens retaliation after Twitter bans adverts from RT and Sputnik news outlets [links to Benton summary]
   How Facebook, Google and Twitter 'embeds' helped Trump in 2016
   Cambridge Analytica used data from Facebook and Politico to help Trump
   What Did Cambridge Analytica Really Do for Trump's Campaign? [links to Wired]

   Fix this democracy — now - WaPo op-eds
   House Speaker Ryan: FBI will hand over documents related to Trump-Russia dossier [links to Benton summary]

   Can the media survive on this path? - op-ed
   Op-Ed: Why We Need ‘Pull-No-Punches Reporting’ That Holds Big Corporations And Moneyed Interests Accountable [links to Huffington Post]
   Press Groups Seek Investigation of St Louis Police Treatment of Journalists [links to Benton summary]
   No network has interviewed President Trump more than Fox. Here’s what they’ve asked him. [links to Benton summary]
   CNN Anchor Don Lemon Files Police Report Over ‘Threatening and Anti-Black Messages’ [links to Wrap, The]

   House Judiciary Committee to hold Nov 1 hearing on net neutrality, antitrust issues [links to Benton summary]

   McAfee says it no longer will permit government source code reviews [links to Reuters]

   FirstNet faces pushback from some states as deadline looms [links to Benton summary]
   House Communications Subcommittee Has Rescheduled FirstNet Oversight hearing for Nov 1 [links to Broadcasting&Cable]
   Hurricane Maria Communications Status Report for Oct. 26 [links to Federal Communications Commission]

   Rep Maxine Waters demands info on Russia-linked Twitter accounts she says targeted her [links to Benton summary]
   Reddit Bans Nazi Groups and Others in Crackdown on Violent Content [links to New York Times]

   Remarks Of FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr At Competitive Carriers Association's 25th Annual Convention - speech [links to Benton summary]

   Public Knowledge Joins Conservative Groups Against AT&T-Time Warner Merger in DOJ Letter [links to Benton summary]

   Larry Magid: libraries remain a vital part of our communities [links to San Jose Mercury News]

   Op-Ed: Technology Is Key to Local Citizen Engagement [links to Government Technology]

   Facebook Steps Up Efforts to Sway Lawmakers [links to Benton summary]

   Google Parent Alphabet’s Revenue Climbs to $27.77 Billion in Third Quarter; Profit to $6.73 Billion [links to Wall Street Journal]
   Amazon Revenue Rises to $43.74 billion in Third Quarter [links to Wall Street Journal]
   Microsoft’s cloud-computing operations Azure and Office 365 saw revenue soar in fiscal first quarter [links to Wall Street Journal]
   Comcast: Loss of cable television subscribers accelerates [links to USAToday]
   NBC's Mark Halperin accused of sexual harassment by five women [links to Benton summary]

   How Europe fights fake news - CJR op-ed [links to Benton summary]
   WhatsApp faces EU taskforce over sharing user data with Facebook [links to Guardian, The]
   Spain Looks to Seize Catalonia Radio and TV as Crisis Mounts [links to New York Times]
   Mexican TV Mogul Steps Down as CEO Amid Programming Struggles [links to Wall Street Journal]
   Opinion: The Question More Indians Ask — ‘Is My Phone Tapped?’ [links to New York Times]

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[SOURCE: Federal Communications Commission, AUTHOR: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai]
At our November open meeting, we'll be tackling top priorities: curtailing unlawful robocalls, unleashing 5G wireless connectivity, enabling the next generation of broadcast television, speeding infrastructure deployment, and modernizing our media ownership rules.
Lifeline: Speaking of bridging the digital divide, the Lifeline program is an important component of the Commission's efforts to bring digital opportunity to low-income Americans. But when I testified on Capitol Hill last month, I heard loud and clear from Democratic and Republican Senators alike that the program is in need of serious reform. For starters, we need to crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse. And we will. For instance, right now, Lifeline recipients in cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Reno, Nevada receive an enhanced Tribal subsidy, intended for rural Tribal lands, of $34.25 a month, while those in other cities receive the standard $9.25 subsidy. Giving residents of Tulsa and Reno an extra $25 per month subsidy is a waste of money given that the cost of providing service in those cities is far lower there than it is in poorer, rural areas. Therefore, at our November meeting, the Commission will aim to close this loophole and limit the enhanced Tribal subsidy to those actually living on Tribal lands in rural areas. We'll also vote to solicit public input on how to effectively and efficiently direct Lifeline funds to the areas where they are most needed and to do so consistent with the FCC's legal authority. And we'll give Lifeline recipients better service and more choices–such as by eliminating a current prohibition on Lifeline broadband beneficiaries changing service providers for an entire year.
Media Ownership: We will be voting on modernizing our media ownership rules to reflect the marketplace of the present, not the past. President Clinton's first FCC Chairman stated, "Under current conditions, the FCC's [newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership] rule is perverse." In 2017, the FCC is poised to finally bring our media ownership rules into the digital age. If this proposed Order is adopted, the FCC would make five significant nods to reality. First, we would once and for all eliminate the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule. In this day and age, if you want to buy a newspaper, you deserve a roadmap, not a roadblock. Second, we would eliminate the radio/television cross-ownership rule, which is unnecessary in today's marketplace given the Commission's separate local radio and local television ownership rules. Third, we would revise the local television ownership rule to eliminate the eight-voices test and incorporate a case-by-case review into the top-four restriction. This would better reflect the competitive conditions in local markets. Fourth, we would eliminate the attribution rule for television joint sales agreements, finding that JSAs serve the public interest by allowing broadcasters to better serve their local markets. And fifth, we would finally establish an incubator program to encourage greater diversity in and new entry into the media business and seek comment on what the details of that program should be.
benton.org/headlines/energetic-november | Federal Communications Commission
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[SOURCE: Benton Foundation, AUTHOR: Adrianne Furniss]
Intended initially as a mechanism to reduce the cost of phone service for low-income customers, the bipartisan Lifeline program has worked in lockstep with telephone providers and consumers to increase the uptake in phone service throughout the country and has kept pace with changes in technology as the U.S. moved from a wireline world to one where the number of mobile devices and services now exceeds the population to a recognition that broadband internet is an essential communications service. Unfortunately, Chairman Pai’s proposal turns America’s back on our commitment, enshrined in law, to make sure world-class telecommunications are available and affordable for all. By nick and hack, Pai is gutting the only Universal Service Fund program that directly benefits consumers instead of carriers. His changes will mean fewer low-income households are served by fewer competitive options. At the very least, we hope that the FCC will take the time to do an economic analysis around the impact of the proposed changes. Many, many Lifeline recipients are U.S. veterans who fought for our flag. Chairman Pai appears to be waiving the white flag of surrender for their connected future. This is a sad day for anyone who believes in truly universal service.
benton.org/headlines/pai-lifeline-proposal-sad-anyone-who-believes-truly-universal-service | Benton Foundation
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[SOURCE: Benton Foundation, AUTHOR: Adrianne Furniss]
From the earliest days of broadcasting, federal regulation has sought to foster the provision of programming that meets local communities' needs and interests. The FCC’s rules have been rooted in the core values of localism, competition, and diversity. Any changes in FCC rules should be aimed at expanding the multiplicity of voices and choices that support our marketplace of ideas and that sustain American democracy and creativity. Instead of the proposal before us now, the FCC should be considering policies that encourage:
Viewpoint diversity to ensure that the public has access to “a wide range of diverse and antagonistic opinions and interpretations.” FCC rules should facilitate opportunities for varied groups, entities, and individuals to participate in the different phases of the broadcast industry;
Outlet diversity, opening control of media outlets to a variety of independent owners;
Source diversity so the public has access to information and programming from multiple content providers; and
Program diversity so broadcasting delivers a variety of programming formats and content.
benton.org/headlines/benton-asks-fcc-walk-first-amendment-talk-when-considering-broadcast-ownership-rules | Benton Foundation
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[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal, AUTHOR: Georgia Wells]
Twitter said it overstated its number of users for the past three years and committed to take advertising off its site from two Russian media outlets, even as it reported modest user growth for the third quarter. Twitter said it will no longer accept advertising from all accounts owned by Russian-backed news outlets RT and Sputnik. Federal intelligence officials say RT is “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.“ Twitter’s decision marks a stark change to its previous stance of accepting advertising from these groups. The RT editor in chief said in a tweet on Oct 26 that Twitter approached RT ahead of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election to pitch ways RT could advertise on Twitter during this period.
benton.org/headlines/twitter-overstated-number-users-three-years | Wall Street Journal
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[SOURCE: Politico, AUTHOR: Nancy Scola]
Facebook, Twitter and Google played a far deeper role in Donald Trump's presidential campaign than has previously been disclosed, with company employees taking on the kind of political strategizing that campaigns typically entrust to their own staff or paid consultants, according to a new study released Oct 26. The peer-reviewed paper, based on more than a dozen interviews with both tech company staffers who worked inside several 2016 presidential campaigns and campaign officials, sheds new light on Silicon Valley's assistance to Trump before his surprise win last November. While the companies call it standard practice to work hand-in-hand with high-spending advertisers like political campaigns, the new research details how the staffers assigned to the 2016 candidates frequently acted more like political operatives, doing things like suggesting methods to target difficult-to-reach voters online, helping to tee up responses to likely lines of attack during debates, and scanning candidate calendars to recommend ad pushes around upcoming speeches. Such support was critical for the Trump campaign, which didn’t invest heavily in its own digital operations during the primary season and made extensive use of Facebook, Twitter and Google "embeds" for the general election, says the study, conducted by communications professors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Utah.
benton.org/headlines/how-facebook-google-and-twitter-embeds-helped-trump-2016 | Politico | read the study
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[SOURCE: The Guardian, AUTHOR:Stephanie Kirchgaessner]
Cambridge Analytica used its own database and voter information collected from Facebook and news publishers in its effort to help elect Donald Trump, despite a claim by a top campaign official who has downplayed the company’s role in the election. The data analysis company, which uses a massive database of consumer and demographic information to profile and target voters, has come under the scrutiny of congressional investigators who are examining the Trump campaign. This week, the group became the focus of a new controversy after the Daily Beast reported that the company’s chief executive, Alexander Nix, had contacted Julian Assange in 2016. Nix allegedly asked the WikiLeaks founder whether he could assist in releasing thousands of e-mails that had gone missing on a private server that had been used by Hillary Clinton. Assange confirmed the contact but said the offer was rejected. The news prompted a top former campaign official, Michael Glassner, who was executive director of the Trump election campaign, to minimise the role Cambridge Analytica played in electing Trump, despite the fact that it paid Cambridge Analytica millions of dollars in fees. In a statement on Oct 25, Glassner said that the Trump campaign relied on voter data owned by the Republican National Committee to help elect the president. “Any claims that voter data from any other source played a key role in the victory are false,” he said. But that claim is contradicted by a detailed description of the company’s role in the 2016 election given in May by a senior Cambridge Analytica executive.
benton.org/headlines/cambridge-analytica-used-data-facebook-and-politico-help-trump | Guardian, The
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[SOURCE: Washington Post, AUTHOR: ]
In so many ways, the underlying conditions of US democracy need repair. Among American citizens, ideological and philosophical divisions seem insurmountably sharp; among their representatives in Washington, compromise appears impossible. Whatever side you were on in last year’s election, it’s clear that the campaign brought these problems dramatically to the surface of our national life; it’s also clear that these challenges would have been with us, in equal measure, no matter who won. And so, as we approach the one-year anniversary of the election, we asked dozens of writers and artists to look beyond the day-to-day upheavals of the news cycle and propose one idea that could help fix the long-term problems bedeviling American democracy. The result: 38 conservative, liberal, practical, creative, broad, specific, technocratic, provocative solutions for an unsettled country.
benton.org/headlines/fix-democracy-now | Washington Post
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[SOURCE: Washington Post, AUTHOR: Gary Abernathy]
[Commentary] It struck me after a number of casual conversations with local Republicans over the past few weeks that they seldom mentioned the Democrats when discussing President Trump’s adversaries. Almost all conversations about roadblocks President Trump faces or opposition to his initiatives centered on what was perceived as the media’s biased portrayal of him and his administration. Republicans and conservatives have grumbled about unfair coverage from the “mainstream media” for decades. But the Trump era has brought us to a new plateau, one where the media has moved from adversarial to oppositional. Many observers, on both right and left, have come to see the media as the leader of the resistance. If you care about journalism, it’s a disturbing trend. Many in the media would undoubtedly lay much of the blame on Trump’s “fake news” attacks. But peruse the pages or websites of most of our nation’s leading news providers, and it’s easy to understand why such a perception has taken hold, apart from Trump’s claims. We are at a dangerous precipice in how Americans receive and digest information and, ultimately, form opinions. The influence of social-media feeds, which — through user choice or outside meddling — provide only a narrow flow of information, makes the credibility of news organizations more imperative than ever. President Trump and the Republicans will survive the media’s resistance, and perhaps even flourish. The bigger question is, can the media survive on this path? Perhaps, but not in its traditional role. Instead, it will be viewed as just another partisan special interest.
[Gary Abernathy is publisher and editor of the (Hillsboro, Ohio) Times-Gazette.]
benton.org/headlines/can-media-survive-path | Washington Post
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