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Posts Tagged ‘Tom Wheeler’

Group Fights KTTV License Renewal Over Use of Word ‘Redskins’

fcc redskinsThree Native Americans have filed a petition with the FCC to protest the license renewal of Los Angeles FOX owned station KTTV over the use of the word Redskins.

KTTV broadcasts the NFL’s National Football Conference. The Washington Redskins play in the NFC Eastern Division.

Last month, George Washington University professor John Banzhaf said he would target local TV stations in areas with large populations of Native Americans to stop the use of the word. He also said he would go after Los Angeles stations since their licenses are up for renewal at the end of the year. KTTV’s license is up for renewal December 1.

UPDATE: A spokesperson for FOX Television Stations declined to comment on the matter.

All the petitioners argue that the respective stations have not met their legal obligation to operate in the public interest, because repeatedly and unnecessarily using a highly derogatory word – which has been found in several legal proceedings, as well as in dictionaries, to be a racial slur – when children are in the audience is clearly contrary to the public interest.

“No station which repeatedly and unnecessarily used the word “N*ggers” on the air would ever have its license renewed, and Native American leaders all say that the R-word is as much a racial slur to them as the N-word is to African Americans,” says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who filed the original petition against the renewal the license of WWXX-FM. Read more

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FCC May Give New Life to Aereo

fcc logoFederal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler says he wants to include internet video in the definition of a multichannel programming provider to “boost competition with cable and satellite services.”

In a blog post, Wheeler said he wants to “modernize” how the commission defines a multichannel video programming distributor by making it “technology neutral.” Doing so would give internet based providers “the same access to programming owned by cable operators and the same ability to negotiate to carry broadcast TV stations that Congress gave to satellite systems in order to ensure competitive video markets.”

Variety reports the move could breathe new life into Aereo:

Such a move also could give new life to Aereo, which has sought to be defined as a multichannel distributor following its defeat in the Supreme Court over its carriage of local TV stations over the Internet. A federal judge recently rejected Aereo’s latest effort to be defined like a cable service, but Wheeler noted in a blog post that the company had recently visited the FCC to make the point that updating the definition of a multichannel distributor would expand choice and “perhaps consumers will not be forced to pay for channels they never watch.” Nevertheless, Aereo would have to alter its economic model, as it would most likely not be able to obtain broadcast streaming rights for free. Read more

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

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.

Gray Finds Diverse Buyers for Six Stations

New_Gray_304Gray Television announced today it has found buyers for six full power TV stations that may have disappeared otherwise.

In June, Gray said it was transferring the programming of the six stations it operated under shared service agreements and also had the option to buy, to stations it owned in the same market. Rather than surrendering the licenses of the now program-less stations, it hired the brokerage arm of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council to find new owners for the stations.

When it hired MMTC, Gray stipulated the buyers had to be “socially disadvantaged enterprises, such as businesses controlled by women, minorities, or innovative new entrants, or non-profit entities such as a school or religious institution.”

The six stations are KXJB in Fargo, ND, KJCT in Grand Junction, CO, KHAS in Hastings-Lincoln, NE, KAQY in Monroe, LA, KNDX in Bismarck, ND, and KXND in Minot. Read more

FCC Votes to Restrict Joint Service Agreements

fcc logoThe FCC voted today to tighten media ownership rules by cracking down on joint service agreements, The Hill reports:

Under Monday’s 3-2 vote, a broadcast company that sells 15 percent or more of a station’s advertising will be considered as owning that station. “What we’re doing is closing off what has been a growing end-run around [the FCC’s ownership] rules,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Monday.

“JSAs have been used, skirting the existing rules, to create market power that stacks the deck against small companies seeking to enter the broadcast business,” he said. The order allows broadcast stations using JSAs to apply for an exemption to the new ownership rules and requires the agency to reply to a station’s request within 90 days.

“We make it clear that JSAs are appropriate when they further those statutory goals of competition, diversity and localism,” Wheeler said. Republicans on the FCC slammed the agency’s move to constrain cooperation between broadcasters. Commissioner Ajit Pai called it “the most problematic item I’ve encountered” during his time at the agency.

FCC Votes to Prevent Joint Retransmission Negotiations

fcc sealThe FCC has voted to bar broadcasters from negotiating retransmission deals for multiple television stations in the same market, TVNewsCheck reports:

Under the new regulation adopted, two or more separately owned Top-4 broadcasters in the same market would be prohibited from negotiating retrans deals altogether.

During the meeting, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that Congress gave broadcasters the right to charge for their programming and that’s not changing. “All we’re doing today,” he said, “is leveling the negotiating table.”

On a related action, the FCC also proposed a further notice of rulemaking seeking comment on whether to eliminate the agency’s network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity rules, regulations that make it easier for stations to protect the exclusivity of their programming in their markets.

Statements from the American Television Alliance and the American Cable Association are after the jump. 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

ACA Asks FCC to Change How it Grants Licenses, Supports SSA Study

aca_304The American Cable Association is asking FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to change the way the FCC approves station licenses.

In its letter, the ACA asked the FCC to review station deals in front of the entire commission or “en banc,” when the deal involves a shared service agreement rather than letting the Media Bureau handle it. Said the ACA, “Only by doing so can the Commission ensure that the public values of competition, localism and diversity are fully served by its reviews of transactions involving U.S. broadcast licenses.”

>RELATED: Sinclair Hires Former FCC Media Bureau Adviser for Washington Office

In past filings with the FCC, the ACA has voiced its concern that companies using service agreements to own multiple stations in a single market could band together to squeeze more retransmission money out of cable operators.

The ACA also voiced its support of Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) who recently asked the commission to hold off on granting anymore licenses until the effect of shared and joint service agreements can be studied. Read more

Senator Asks FCC to Consider Effects of Service Agreements Before Approving Deals

FCC_304Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV has asked FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to delay ruling on upcoming station group mergers until the Government Accountability Office can complete its report on shared service agreements.

The request covers recent Sinclair and Nexstar purchases as well as the merger between Gannett and Belo.

TVNewsCheck reports the Democratic senator from West Virginia wrote, “Given the current questions about the impact of SSAs on the broadcast landscape the FCC should approach each of the pending transactions cautiously. While I am not taking a position on any particular transaction, I believe that the FCC should collect all information necessary to understand the scope and effect of the SSAs envisioned by the deals.” Read more

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