Washington Post

Yes, Donald Trump has been good for the media business

Here is an eye-popping figure: "CNN will make approximately $100 million in television and digital advertising revenues more than it would expect in the typical election year," according to NPR. Just to reiterate: That's not $100 million total; that's $100 million on top of the money CNN would have raked in anyway. As NPR's David Folkenflik wrote, "The network has turned a financial corner thanks to the painstaking initiatives of its chief, Jeff Zucker, and to the unpredictable words of another man not employed by CNN: Donald Trump."

Yes, Trump has been good for some in the media business. This has been obvious since the first debate of the Republican presidential primary, which smashed a cable TV viewership record with an audience of 24 million. Before the second debate, Advertising Age reported that CNN was charging 40 times its normal ad rate for the event.

US courts: Electronic surveillance up 500 percent in DC-area since 2011, almost all sealed cases

Secret law enforcement requests to conduct electronic surveillance in domestic criminal cases have surged in federal courts for Northern Virginia and the District, but only one in a thousand of the applications ever becomes public, newly released data show. The bare-bones release by the courts leaves unanswered how long, in what ways and for what crimes federal investigators tracked individuals’ data and whether long-running investigations result in charges. Yet the listings of how often law enforcement applied to judges to conduct covert electronic surveillance — a list that itself is usually sealed — underscore the exponential growth in the use of a 1986 law to collect data about users’ telephone, email and other Internet communications.

How conservative TV could change after Election Day

Donald Trump continued to feed speculation that he will start a television network after Election Day by debuting a nightly webcast on his Facebook page. Also conservative commentator Mark Levin announced his plan to launch Conservative Review TV in December. Meanwhile, the Right Side Broadcasting Network, which has built a loyal following by streaming Trump rallies on YouTube, hopes to add more original programming after the election to become something akin to Glenn Beck's TheBlaze, said the network's founder, Joe Seales. (Of course, Right Side will not be quite like TheBlaze. Seales is a Trump acolyte, but Beck is one of the Republican presidential nominee's harshest critics.)

Then there is post-Roger Ailes Fox News. Anchor Shepard Smith said that network owner Rupert Murdoch “wants to hire a lot more journalists” and build “a massive new newsroom.” “When the biggest boss, who controls everything, comes and says, 'That's what I want to do,' that's the greatest news I've heard in years,” Smith said. “And he didn't mention one thing about our opinion side.” When polls close Nov. 8, the conservative TV landscape could get crowded in a hurry — especially if Trump loses, which he is very likely to do

The lap dogs of democracy who didn’t bark at Trump

[Commentary] In an ordinary presidential campaign, press neutrality is essential. But in Donald Trump we have somebody who has threatened democracy by talking about banning an entire religion from entering the country; forcing Muslims in America to register with authorities; rewriting press laws and prosecuting his critics and political opponents; blacklisting news organizations he doesn’t like; ordering the military to do illegal things such as torture and targeting innocents; and much more.

In this case, attempting neutrality legitimized the illegitimate. It’s not just a concern of the “elites” — nor a dismissal of the real grievances of Trump’s followers — to condemn a candidate’s reluctance to accept a bedrock principle of democracy. There’s nothing “brilliant” about a campaign for the presidency that makes scapegoats of women, immigrants and racial and religious minorities. It’s not “impressive” to consort with white supremacists. It’s not “fair and even” to ignore that much of what Trump has done is a threat to democratic institutions. And it is absolutely appropriate to “take sides” in a contest between democracy and its alternative.

On freedom of the press, Donald Trump wants to make America like England again

Donald Trump's presidential campaign is all about American greatness — unless the subject is freedom of the press, in which case the Republican nominee thinks England is much more tremendous than the United States. Trump reiterated his desire to weaken First Amendment protections, a position he staked out in February when he pledged to “open up” libel laws so that public figures, such as himself, can sue and win cases against media companies more easily.

Trump described his vision in greater detail: "Well, in England they have a system where you can actually sue if someone says something wrong. Our press is allowed to say whatever they want and get away with it. And I think we should go to a system where if they do something wrong — I'm a big believer, tremendous believer, of the freedom of the press. Nobody believes it stronger than me, but if they make terrible, terrible mistakes and those mistakes are made on purpose to injure people — I'm not just talking about me; I'm talking anybody else then, yes, I think you should have the ability to sue them," Trump said. "So you'd like the laws to be closer to what they have in England?" he was asked. "Well, in England you have a good chance of winning. And deals are made and apologies are made. Over here, they don't have to apologize. They can say anything they want about you or me, and there doesn't have to be any apology. England has a system where if they are wrong, things happen," Trump said.

How the AT&T-Time Warner deal could escape deeper regulatory scrutiny

AT&T's $85.4 billion purchase of one of America's top media conglomerates could radically reshape the digital economy, making the deal's next step — regulatory review — hugely important to the way consumers access their media. But missing from the process could be the Federal Communications Commission, a key player in the battery of megadeals to hit the market recently.

The Justice Department is likely to analyze whether the transaction could hurt competition, and it could impose requirements on AT&T that might restrain anticompetitive practices stemming from the deal. The FCC, as the nation's top telecom, cable and broadband regulator, could seek to impose different — but no less important — conditions. But the FCC's involvement hinges on whether Time Warner sells certain assets to AT&T.

If the FCC is excluded from the process, it could weaken regulators' ability to prevent harm to competition, said Gene Kimmelman, a former Justice Department antitrust official who is now president of the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge. “The kinds of things I can think of that would potentially prevent anticompetitive behavior may include detailed regulatory oversight that DOJ is not inclined to engage in — and doesn't think it has the capacity to engage in,” he said. “They may be tools that are not available without the FCC being involved.”

The FCC generally has a say in acquisitions that involve the sale of assets regulated by the agency. This may include, for example, TV stations owned by one of the two companies. But in the deal involving AT&T and Time Warner, no such assets may change hands. Time Warner owns just one Atlanta-based TV station, and it has not announced whether the station will be sold to AT&T. The station could be spun off and excluded from the deal — which would also eliminate any reason for the FCC to become involved, said Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG

AT&T’s Time Warner deal looks like bad news for Verizon

AT&T's $85.4 billion megadeal to acquire Time Warner is an unprecedented bid to diversify the telecom giant as network operators nationwide scramble to marry their communications pipes with exclusive content. For many of these firms, it's no longer enough to be the conduit to TV shows, films and other creative media. A growing number of them want to be making money from the production and cross-promotion of content, too.

Against this backdrop is Verizon, AT&T's biggest rival in the wireless industry, which has made its own moves toward gaining access to content. But some analysts say the outlook for Verizon is beginning to look gloomier. “You've got the big-league players, and you've got the second-string players,” said Jeff Kagan, an independent telecom analyst. “Verizon — the moves they've made, they make it look more like a second-string player.”

Cyberattack that disrupted access to major websites is under investigation

Tens of millions of IP addresses were used to take down popular websites like Twitter and Netflix as part of a massive cyberattack on Oct 21.

Dyn, an Internet middleman company, was the target of the distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, attack that hit in three waves. Dyn directs traffic when people type a URL into a browser. So the attack on the company caused temporary outages at many of the internet's most widely-trafficked sites. Dyn revealed that a "sophisticated" attack involved "10s of millions of IP addresses." The outages were caused, at least in part, by malware sent by hackers to devices connected to the internet.

Dyn said that the cyberattack is under investigation, and that the company is looking out for other digital assaults. The attack, which Dyn said had been resolved, was notable because the firm says the attackers used an emerging form of malware called "Mirai" to hijack everyday items such as security cameras and DVRs that were connected to the Internet. The attack also highlighted how targeting just one company could create havoc across the Web. "The nature and source of the attack is under investigation, but it was a sophisticated attack across multiple attack vectors and Internet locations," said Kyle York, Dyn’s chief strategy officer. Dyn says it is monitoring for signs of additional attacks. It is still unknown who was behind the attack. The US government is also investigating the incident.

AT&T could soon own HBO, CNN and a huge list of other household names

On Oct 20, Bloomberg reported that AT&T is in “informal” talks to buy the media and entertainment giant Time Warner. Now the timeline appears to be accelerating: The two companies are apparently in “advanced” talks that could lead to a deal being hammered out over the weekend. A merger between AT&T and Time Warner would be a historic deal.

For starters, it could suddenly give AT&T control over a massive number of the world's most valuable media brands. It would complete the transformation by the wireless carrier — already the nation's second-largest — into a fully-fledged entertainment powerhouse, launching an entirely new chapter in the history of the telecommunications giant. And it would be no less monumental for the rest of the communications industry, a rapidly consolidating area of business in which Internet providers are increasingly playing a central role in how consumers work and play. The tie-up could see AT&T gain ownership over a dizzying array of household names. Time Warner — not to be confused with Time Warner Cable, which sold to Charter Communications earlier this year — owns HBO, meaning that AT&T could soon have the rights to “Game of Thrones,” “Westworld,” and “True Detective." It would control some of the most successful TV content in history, such as "The Sopranos" and "The Wire." It could also benefit from all the subscription revenue from HBO, the most profitable subscription business in history, whose 130 million subscribers on cable and on HBO's online streaming app pay about $15 a month.

Rep Duncan Hunter raises concern over potential use of Russian satellites for troops’ Internet service

In a letter to the Pentagon Oct 21, Rep Duncan Hunter (R-CA) said he was concerned a contract to provide Internet service to deployed soldiers could allow the use of Russian satellites, jeopardizing troops’ privacy and security.

Previous service at bases’ Internet cafes had “stringent security measures,” Rep Hunter wrote to Army Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, the head of the Defense Information Systems Agency. But he said he was worried the “contracting arrangement creates unnecessary security risks, given that our deployed warfighters could be exposed to transmitting their personal information over unprotected networks that are controlled by foreign and potentially hostile entities.” In an interview, Rep Hunter, who served three tours as Marine, said, “this is one of the dumbest things we could do. Why give the Russians the ability to basically spy on American military personnel when there are so many other options?” A DISA spokesperson said the agency could not discuss the provisions of the contract or which companies may have submitted offers.