Free, over-the-air television and radio; community-based, low-power FM radio stations; public radio and television; and the obligations of licensees to serve the public interest. A key principle of federal communications law is that in exchange for free use of the public airwaves broadcasters agree to take actions to benefit the public. These principles are enshrined in the Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934 in the mandate that "broadcasting serve the public interest, convenience and necessity."
The Federal Communications Commission voted to modernize its broadcast ownership rules and to help promote ownership diversity in the broadcast industry. The Order on Reconsideration:
[Commentary] Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is setting a record pace for deregulating the communications industries. Believe it or not, things are about to get worse in Nov. Starting with the FCC’s open meeting on Nov 16, the agency is poised to approve or propose no fewer than four decisions that will deregulate consolidated industries, remove consumer protections, and widen the digital divide:
Senators Call for Impartial Investigation into Potential Quid Pro Quo between Chairman Ajit Pai, Trump Administration, and Sinclair Broadcasting
Sens Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tom Udall (D-NM), and 13 of their Senate colleagues are requesting the inspector general of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) open an investigation into the objectivity and impartiality of the FCC’s review of the proposed merger of Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune Media.
[Commentary] As the son of a broadcast pioneer who got his license from the Department of Commerce in 1923 and as a former broadcaster myself, I read with great sadness “FCC to Lift Limits on Media Deals.” Although Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai justifies his proposal by saying it will lead to more news gathering locally and more news for consumers, my experience tells me it will be the opposite. First, viewers and listeners don’t need more news, they need better news.
Radio and television stations’ local content – particularly news – provides great value for audiences on the major technology platforms. However, broadcasters are not fairly compensated for this valuable content because of the way the markets currently operate. The reason for that is simple – these tech platforms have substantial market power in their provision of services, and they use that power for advancing their own growth and benefit to the detriment of local broadcast journalism.
Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced that the items below are tentatively on the agenda for the April Open Commission Meeting scheduled for Thursday, April 22, 2021:
The US Supreme Court let the Federal Communications Commission ease limits on the ownership of local television and radio stations, siding with the broadcast industry and Trump-era regulators in a long-running fight. The Justices unanimously overturned an appeals court ruling that had required the FCC to first study the potential impact on female and minority ownership in the media industry. Republicans and the broadcast industry have been seeking to relax the ownership limits for decades, saying the restrictions are badly outdated.
Broadcasters want to get a cut of those billions of dollars in the Federal Communications Commission's Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. The National Association of Broadcasters is telling the FCC that TV and radio advertising is particularly effective both because they are ubiquitous and because over-the-air broadcasting over-indexes for the eligible population--households with incomes below $50,000.
The Supreme Court waded into a two-decade long debate over the extent to which the Federal Communications Commission can relax media ownership rules. At stake are recent FCC moves toward deregulation, allowing the common ownership of a newspaper and broadcast stations in the same market, as well as giving more leeway for media companies to own more than one TV and radio outlet in the same city.
As the nation grapples with the violent insurrection fueled by President Trump’s lies and divisive rhetoric, as well as a surging pandemic and economic upheaval, the local broadcast media’s job of providing communities with reliable news and information has never been more important. Communities deserve a diverse array of voices and perspectives in the media on critical issues such as economic and racial justice and investigative reporting that holds power accountable. Who owns and presents the media matters.