Broadcasting

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."

Rep Hagedorn, Radio DJ Interview Payola Deal Could Draw FCC Inquiry

Rep Jim Hagedorn (R-MN) and KTOE DJ Al Travis Thielfoldt face further questions about the nature of their working relationship as documents raise questions over whether Rep Hagedorn’s campaign paid Thielfoldt for radio interviews. The Free Press recently obtained a series of invoices written by Thielfoldt in his work as a paid advertising consultant to the campaign covering Sept 2019 and the first five months of 2020. In those monthly invoices, Thielfoldt lists dates of interviews he or others conducted with Rep Hagedorn on KTOE as well as interview blocks of time.

FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for October 2020 Open Meeting

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the items below are tentatively on the agenda for the October Open Commission Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, October 27, 2020:

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting Joins Public Media Partner PBS in Celebrating 50 Years of Service to the American People

PBS, the nonprofit member organization and public media program distributor, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. PBS, with 330 member stations serving all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa, provides more than 1,200 hours a year of children's, primetime, educational, and cultural programming.

Supreme Court to Review FCC Push to Undo Media Ownership Restrictions

The Supreme Court will review a decades-old legal battle over whether the Federal Communications Commission can make media ownership rules less restrictive. In particular, the court will review a ban that has been in place since 1975, barring cross-ownership of TV stations and newspapers in major American cities (although some exceptions have been made). The ban has gained renewed interest from the FCC in recent years. In October 2017, the FCC voted to remove the ban, along with restrictions on local media advertising.

House Democrats’ Updated Version of The Heroes Act

House Democrats unvieled an updated version of the Heroes Act as a way to revitalize stalled talks over another COVID-19 pandemic relief measure. The $2.2 trillion bill would provide:

Strategic Improvements to Media Regulations

Deregulation of broadcast television station owners has also helped highlight just how backward and outdated certain aspects of our media regulation regime really are, and therefore, how much work remains to be done. To facilitate this process, I would humbly submit a few more ideas that the Federal Communications Commission could quickly implement to improve the plight of America’s struggling broadcasters and support local journalism:

Scripps Goes National By Buying Ion for $2.65 Billion

Local TV broadcast station owner EW Scripps is jumping into the national television business by buying Ion Media for $2.65 billion in a deal backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire Hathaway is investing $600 million in Scripps to help pay for Ion and make a bet on free over-the-air television. Scripps already had a national presence with Katz Networks, which runs channels like Bounce and Court TV. Ion reaches 96% of US homes with stations in 62 markets and 124 affiliated stations.

"What We've Got Here Is Failure To Communicate"

One might be excused for thinking that by now, more than 200 years after the first disputed presidential election, our forebears or ourselves would have stepped up to the issue and put in place the mechanics necessary to allow a democratic nation to hold a democratic election.

Activist Trian Fund Management Takes Stake in Comcast

Trian Fund Management LP, a hedge fund known for pushing big companies to make operational and other changes, has launched an activist campaign against Comcast in a bet that the cable-TV and entertainment giant’s stock is undervalued. Trian has accumulated about 20 million shares in Comcast, for a roughly $900 million stake or about 0.4% of the company. Comcast’s market value is about $200 billion. Executives at Trian -- which was founded by Nelson Peltz, Ed Garden, and Peter May -- recently began conversations with Comcast management.

Sumner Redstone Built Media Empire and Long Reigned Over It

Sumner M. Redstone, the billionaire entrepreneur who saw business as combat and his advancing years as no obstacle in building a media empire that encompassed CBS and Viacom, died at his home in Los Angeles. He was 97. Beginning with a modest chain of drive-in movie theaters, Redstone negotiated, sued and otherwise fought to amass holdings that over time included CBS, the Paramount film and television studios, the publisher Simon & Schuster, the video retail giant Blockbuster and a host of cable channels, including MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.