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Posts Tagged ‘FCC’

Why the Fight Over Washington NFL Team’s Name May Affect LA Stations

LA_wikipediaVariety reports FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently told reporters he is considering a petition to sanction broadcast stations who use the term Redskins when referring to the Washington, D.C. NFL team.

The FCC is getting in on the fight after George Washington law professor John Banzhaf filed a petition with the commission to pull the license of the radio station owned by the same man who owns the NFL team.

Now it looks like the naming battle may come to the West Coast after Banzhaf revealed he intends to challenge the license renewals of the Los Angeles ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX owned stations because they use the name during broadcasts.

Banzhaf told The Hollywood Reporter he will target markets with large Native American populations like Oklahoma, South Dakota and North Dakota, but said one of the reasons he chose Los Angeles first was because the station licenses are up for renewal on December 1.

Banzhaf is in talks with several Indian groups (he would not name names) about supporting his effort. He can’t personally petition an L.A. station. It has to be done by a resident of the station’s viewing area.

A petition would trigger a process that would require the station to respond, after which Banzhaf’s side would also respond to that response. “The FCC moves like molasses,” said Banzhaf. “Meanwhile the stations do not have their license renewed and that may have consequences for them.” Read more

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FCC Looking to Woo Broadcasters to Participate in Spectrum Auction

fcc sealThe Wall Street Journal reports the Federal Communications Commission wants more broadcasters to participate in the upcoming spectrum auction.

The auction is meant to meet growing demand by wireless carriers for more spectrum. Broadcasters who auction off their airwaves will either go dark or be moved to a new channel.

The broadcasters have thrown up roadblocks throughout the process and are currently challenging aspects of the FCC’s order in court, though they say they are fine with the auction as long as it remains voluntary.

To win them over, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is making the case that the auction is a unique opportunity for TV broadcasters and has hired an investment bank, Greenhill & Co., to prepare a pitch document that it will send to every eligible TV station in the country. The document attempts to spell out how broadcasters stand to benefit from participating in the auction—including dollar estimates in every market.

“What we’ve been saying is, you know what, there might just be a higher and better use for that spectrum that will put more money in your pocket,” Mr. Wheeler said in a phone interview.

The auction represents in many ways an existential threat to the broadcasting industry, as it could result in dozens of stations going off the air. The latest information from the FCC indicates the auction could affect more stations and markets than initially thought, partly because of the high projected prices stations can expect to receive for their spectrum in large urban and suburban markets.

GAO Says FCC Needs More Data Before Regulating Shared Service Agreements

FCC_304The U.S. Government Accountability Office published a report saying the FCC doesn’t have enough information to regulate shared service agreements.

In its report, the GAO wrote, “FCC does not collect data and has not completed a review on the prevalence of agreements, how they are used, or their effects on its policy goals and media ownership rules.”

The report said the agreements pit cable and satellite providers and consumer groups against station group owners, with cable and satellite providers saying the deals contribute to higher rates for consumers while consumer groups say shared services agreements dilute the quality of news in local markets.

The GAO said reports were mixed on the actual effects of the agreements “because the [retrans] negotiations are subject to nondisclosure agreements, and there is no data source identifying which stations participate in agreements.”

The report concludes by telling the FCC it “should determine whether it needs to collect additional data to understand the prevalence and context of broadcast agreements and whether broadcaster agreements affect its media policy goals of competition, localism, and diversity.”

Deadline Hollywood

Congress Looking at FCC Ownership Rules

FCC_304A subcommittee of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce meets today in a session called “Media Ownership in the 21st Century.”

On its website, the committee said it’s meeting to “discuss the FCC’s inaction on the statutorily required 2010 quadrennial review of the media ownership rules as well as the continued relevance of the media ownership regulatory framework in general.”

The subcommittee will also talk about the FCC’s decision to “forge ahead with new rules on joint sales agreements (JSAs) and other media ownership changes without the completed quadrennial review.”

In other words, lawmakers will talk about whether the FCC’s ownership rules are still relevant and whether lawmakers agree with the FCC’s decision to limit JSAs.

“The question is are the media ownership rules today even credible in today’s technological society?” Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) told The Hill. “Hopefully we flesh that out, make that case. Because if you stay under the same rules, there’s a chance you make it more difficult for the local purveyors of news and information to survive.”

Republicans have criticized the regulations and lambasted the FCC for moving forward with additional restrictions to broadcasters operating in the same media market. Under a proposal approved by the FCC in March, broadcast companies would be effectively banned from sharing more than 15 percent of their advertising resources, a practice that broadcasters say is necessary for them to operate. Read more

Sinclair Intends to Pull the Plug on Three ABC Affiliates As Part of Allbritton Deal

sinclair_304Sinclair Broadcast Group has told the FCC it intends to surrender the licenses of the ABC affiliates in Charleston, SC, and Birmingham, AL, because of the FCC’s recent restrictions on joint sales agreements.

Sinclair intends to surrender the licenses of WCFT and WJSU in Birmingham and ABC affiliate WCIV in Charleston. The three stations are currently owned by Allbritton.

Sinclair has been trying to sell the licenses to comply with the FCC’s ruling against joint sales agreements.

According to the filing, Sinclair wants to move the ABC programming and syndicated shows of the stations to its MyNetworkTV affiliates WABM in Birmingham and WMMP in Charleston. Read more

Lawmakers Look for Ways to Let Viewers in Southwest Colorado Watch Colorado Stations

FCC_304Colorado Senator Mark Udall (D) and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel met Wednesday in Durango, CO, to figure out how to let residents in the southwest part of the state watch Denver TV.

The Durango Herald reports right now, some residents of La Plata and Montezuma Counties in Colorado can only watch Albuquerque stations.

La Plata County residents long have complained they get what one attendee at Wednesday’s forum described as “if it bleeds, it leads” journalism from Albuquerque-based TV news stations.

Among the roadblocks to Denver TV are resistance from New Mexico broadcasters, who don’t want to lose viewers in Southwest Colorado who support advertising revenue, and The Nielsen Co., the private New York-based company that determines TV market areas. Read more

FCC Commissioner Wants to Give Small Business a Break in Proposed SSA Ban

FCC_304FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said she wants to protect small businesses from the agency’s attempt to ban station groups’ use of shared services agreements.

Clyburn told Bloomberg section 257 of the Communications Act of 1934 calls for the “FCC to identify and eliminate, through regulatory action, market entry barriers for entrepreneurs and other small businesses.”

She said “she wants ‘the ability to uphold those standards and those goals,’” and added, “This is an item that is still very fluid and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with my colleagues because we all in the end I believe want the same thing: to achieve balance.”

Clyburn today said there “will be a pathway for waivers if something does not neatly fit in the decision which we lay out.” The commission is trying to work out “ways that we can make that clearer and more efficient” before the vote. Read more

FCC Expected to Vote on Shared Service Agreement Ban

FCC_304Federal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to ask the FCC to vote on a ban of some shared-service agreements in the commissions next meeting.

The proposal is also expected to ban local stations from teaming up in retransmission negotiations.

Bloomberg reports Sinclair Broadcasting, along with several other station groups including Nexstar and LIN Media would be forced to give up some stations if the proposal passes.

Sinclair’s revenue last year from the type of arrangement the officials said Wheeler is most directly targeting amounted to $36 million, according to the filing. Sinclair reported $1.36 billion in revenue last year.

Sinclair fell 1.9 percent to $29.51 at 10:12 a.m. New York time. Nexstar lost 1.7 percent to $42.84, while Lin Media declined less than 1 percent to $23.09.

Wheeler needs to win a vote to pass the change at the FCC, where he is part of the three-member Democratic majority. The agency’s next meeting is March 31 in Washington. Read more

Two Los Angeles Stations Agree to Test Channel-Sharing

FCC_304Two Los Angeles broadcast stations will offer themselves up as subjects in an experiment to see if they can seamlessly share a broadcast channel in hopes of eventually freeing up spectrum for the wireless industry.

The two stations, public broadcaster KLCS and Spanish language station KJLA, will participate in the experiment thought up by the wireless communications industry trade association CTIA.

The object of the experiment is to jam two stations together on the same spectrum and hope viewers can’t see the difference at home. If it works it will mean more spectrum can be sold off to wireless carriers who say they need the added spectrum.

According to Wireless Week, “If the FCC approves the pilot, KLCS will host KJLA throughout the first quarter of 2014. At the conclusion of the test, CTIA and the TV stations will submit a report to the FCC on the viability of channel sharing.”

“We hope that the pilot program will provide broadcasters around the country with ‘real world’ data to evaluate the opportunity to channel share in the upcoming spectrum auction,” Alan Popkin, KLCS director of engineering, said in a statement.

GOP Lawmakers Call FCC Study Attempt to Make FCC ‘News Police’

FCC_304An FCC study looking into how news stories are chosen and reported has caught the eye of  Republican members of the Commerce Committee who fear it may be an attempt to revive the Fairness Doctrine.

The 16 lawmakers told the commission in a letter that by looking into how how editorial decisions are made by local news outlets, the FCC is threatening the First Amendment.

In the letter, Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and 15 other lawmakers asked the FCC to stop the study saying, “It is wrong, it is unconstitutional, and we urge you to put a stop to this most recent attempt to engage the FCC as the ‘news police.”

The study, called the “Multi-Market Study of Critical Needs” plans to look at how broadcast, print, radio and internet news stories are selected, prioritized and produced. On its website, the FCC said the study looks at the information needs of the American public, with “special emphasis on vulnerable/disadvantaged populations.”

The leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee along with every Republican member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee also wrote, “The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the beacon of freedom that makes the United States unique among the world’s nations.  We urge you to take immediate steps to suspend this effort and find ways that are consistent with the Communications Act and the Constitution to serve the commission’s statutory responsibilities.”

The Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to give equal time to both sides of  present controversial issues of public importance in an honest, equitable and balanced way, exposing viewers to a diversity of viewpoints, was officially taken off the books in 2011.

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