An Energetic November

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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.

An Energetic November FCC Tentative Agenda for November Open Meeting (Tentative Agenda) Pai Proposes Own Lifeline Revamp (B&C)