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Posts Tagged ‘Tom Wheeler’

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

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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

Tom Wheeler Confirmed as Head of FCC

wheeler_usaTom Wheeler has been confirmed by the Senate as FCC Chairman.

According to The New York Times, “The vote came after Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, lifted a hold earlier in the day on the nomination of Tom Wheeler as chairman, with Mr. Cruz saying he had received assurances from him that the commission would not immediately pursue changes for political advertising on television.”

Along with Wheeler’s confirmation, the Senate OK’d President Obama’s nomination of Michael O’Reilly as FCC commissioner. The two seats had been vacant since previous chairman Julius Genachowski and commissioner Robert McDowell both stepped down in March.

Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn congratulated the two on their confirmation, “The FCC family enthusiastically welcomes both Tom and Michael. I look forward to working with them, along with my current colleagues at the Commission, to further communications policies that advance the public interest, bolster competition, empower consumers, and spur new waves of innovation that grow our economy and create jobs.”

President Obama Nominates Venture Capitalist as FCC Chairman

President Obama has nominated Tom Wheeler, a venture capitalist and former cable and wireless lobbyist, to head the Federal Communications Commission.

If confirmed by the Senate, Wheeler would succeed Julius Genachowski, who is exiting his post to join the Aspen Institute. Obama formally nominated Wheeler Tuesday afternoon, noting the FCC “sits at the center of a communications universe that is growing and changing faster than you can tweet.”

“Tom is the only member of both the cable television and the wireless industry hall of fame,” Obama said. “For more than 30 years, Tom’s been at the forefront of some of the very dramatic changes that we’ve seen in the way we communicate and how we live our lives.”

Wheeler has served as president of of the National Cable Television Association and the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association.