In exchange for obtaining a valuable license to operate a broadcast station using the public airwaves, each radio and television licensee is required by law to operate its station in the “public interest, convenience and necessity.” This means that it must air programming that is responsive to the needs and problems of its local community of license. In addition, how other media facilitate community discussions.
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.
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.
Seattle is one of the most “connected” cities in the country. 95% of Seattle households have internet access in the place where they live. But internet adoption is lacking in specific geographic areas and is driven primarily by the affordability of broadband service. Despite an extensive and robust broadband infrastructure, unfortunately, there is still a 5% gap in internet adoption for Seattle residents. This gap is concentrated geographically in certain areas of the City.
Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, is currently experiencing firsthand the consequences of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC's) 2018 preemption of local governments’ authority to regulate 5G infrastructure in their cities.
Four Indiana cities, including Indianapolis, have jointly filed suit in a local state court, seeking to collect “franchise fees” usually charged to cable operators from Netflix and several other video operators, none of which are cable providers. Defendants also include Disney Plus and Hulu, as well as satellite TV companies DirecTV and Dish Network.
Los Angeles, Boston, and other cities and counties have asked a federal court to block the Federal Communications Commission from overruling their authority to stop cell tower upgrades. The local governments, in a petition for review filed before the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, argue that the FCC exceeded its statutory authority and acted arbitrarily and capriciously in violation of federal law.
Solutions to having good, ubiquitous broadband are very different for each community. Some communities do not have enough broadband providers; others have plenty of providers but pockets of areas that are underserved; still others have so many providers that they are concerned about running out of rights of way, particularly as fiber for 5G and small cells densities. This article discusses a process that can help address all these circumstances: broadband master planning.
Native American communities should have the same access to the opportunities of the digital age as other Americans. Yet, internet access in Indian Country remains stubbornly and persistently low. Addressing this problem requires smart policy and a scarce resource regulated by the Federal Communications Commission known as wireless spectrum. For the first time, tribal communities have an opportunity to obtain wireless spectrum to expand broadband access on their lands—but the challenges of COVID-19 threaten to diminish its potential. The FCC can and should fix that.
Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr announced that the FCC, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO) have reached an agreement that will support wireless infrastructure builds while continuing to protect historic properties. It does so by amending the Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas (Collocation NPA) that the FCC, ACHP, and NCSHPO entered into in 2001.