The broadcast industry lobby group told the U.S. Court of Appeals in DC that the FCC had no basis for deciding in March to block a station from selling ads for others in the same market. As a result it allegedly was “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion” as well as illegal. The 3-2 party line vote on Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal was predicated on a view that many, if not most, of these deals violate the public interest. Joint Sales Agreements “have been used to skirt existing [media ownership] rules to create market power that stacks the deck against small companies seeking to enter the broadcast business,” Wheeler said. The Justice Department also said that its investigations “have revealed that these ‘sidecars’ often exercise little or no competitive independence from the other station.”
The problem, according to the National Association of Broadcasters, is that regulators never defined the public interest. The FCC should have done that in a congressionally mandated quadrennial review of ownership rules that was supposed to have taken place in 2010, but didn’t. A ”fact-based examination of today’s marketplace would show that FCC ownership restrictions against free and local broadcasters are outdated in a world of national pay TV giants,” EVP Dennis Wharton says. “These rules – some of which have not been altered since 1975 – place broadcasters at a competitive disadvantage as we strive to continue delivering news, entertainment and lifeline … Read More »
In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom untangle the latest twists in the giant Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger proposal, as a Senate committee grills Comcast’s “Jedi Master” of a chief lobbyist and Charter prepares a challenge at the TWC annual meeting. The Davids also talk about the very different tone of two just-signed retransmission deals, at least compared to last year’s Time Warner Cable-CBS brawl; how IMAX reduced its stake in China while increasing its influence; and this week’s National Association of Broadcasters conference, where FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler urged broadcasters to think like “tech disruptors” and NAB chief Gordon Smith called for a federal plan for broadcasting.
Deadline Big Media podcast 80 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Big Media podcast 80 (.M4A version)
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National Association of Broadcasters CEO Gordon Smith offered a healthy plate of red meat to his constituents today as he urged officials to ensure that TV and radio have the same kinds of regulatory protections often provided for broadband and other media. “On one hand, government can treat us as if we are dinosaurs and does what it can to encourage TV stations to go out of business,” he told broadcasters at the kickoff of the annual NAB Show in Las Vegas. “On the other hand, the FCC says we are so important and powerful that two TV stations can’t share advertising in the same market, while it’s OK for multiple cable, satellite and telecommunications operators to do so. Which is it? Too powerful or irrelevant? It can’t be both.” He says it’s only fair to develop coordinated policies to give the industry as much support as the government offers for cable and wireless providers. ”Why doesn’t the FCC have a National Broadcast Plan?” he says.“Why is there no focus to foster innovation and investment in broadcasting to ensure our business continues to be a world leader alongside our broadband industries? Where is the FCC’s gusto and determination to embrace broadcasting’s values and public service responsibilities?” Read More »
The FCC enacted the rules in 1975 to help broadcasters and the NFL: Regulators say that if a sports league requires a TV station to black out a game – usually a football match that isn’t sold out — then cable and satellite distributors can’t offer it in the community either. But that may not serve the public interest “at a time when high ticket prices and the economy make it difficult for many sports fans to attend games,” Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn says today to explain why she circulated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to possibly scrap the rules. How much impact would that have? Possibly little. It wouldn’t prevent sports leagues, broadcasters and pay TV providers from “privately negotiating agreements to black out certain sports events,” she says. Indeed, the FCC notes on its website that the rules are “rarely involved in the sports blackouts you may have experienced” because they’re almost all due to contract terms between sports leagues and distributors.
Related: NFL Forcing Orlando TV Viewers To Watch Losing Jaguars
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Movie and cable lobbyists say that they ““welcome further examination of the reasons behind societal violence” – the rationale behind the bill to be marked up at the Senate Commerce Committee today that would require the National Academy of Sciences to study the impact that violent videos and games have on kids. The bill from committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. VA) is a response to last year’s Sandy Hook school shootings. But the MPAA and National Cable & Telecommunications Association pointedly note that while they will be “productive partners in the conversation about culture in America,” they already try to help parents to make “appropriate family viewing and entertainment decisions.” The trade groups cite their work with TV and film ratings and public service announcements. Today’s statement seems more defensive than the National Association of Broadcasters was when it said that it “supports” the bill, in part because it might make sense of the current “conflicting scientific data” about the connection between media and violence. The NAB says it hopes that “greater civility can be restored to society and that incidences of societal violence can be reduced.” Rockefeller says that he’ll also ask the FCC and FTC to take a fresh look at media violence. “Major corporations, … Read More »
NAB chief Gordon Smith told station owners today that they must redouble their efforts to persuade tech companies to build TV and radio receivers into smartphones and other mobile devices. Internet streaming services “will never have what we have — the ability to deliver our high quality content reliably,” Smith said in his keynote speech at the NAB confab in Las Vegas. But he adds that broadcasters who want to beam signals directly to mobile devices ”must continue to rise up to meet consumer’s desire for more live, local TV content.” He added that stations should “seriously consider the challenges and opportunities of moving to a new standard” that would enable them to “compete in a mobile world, and find new revenue streams.” Hurricane Sandy helped to make a case for adding radio to mobile devices. “Up and down the Eastern seaboard, we heard stories of cell networks and broadband connections being down for days, even weeks. But radio was always on.” Even so, Smith says that radio stations “can’t take their place in the [automobile] dashboard for granted. We must continue to innovate and provide the content listeners want on many different platforms.”
Parents who hoped that entertainment companies would reduce the violent imagery that they pump into the popular culture following the Newtown school shootings are out of luck. The MPAA and virtually every other major entertainment industry lobby group announced today that they will “make a positive contribution to the national conversation on violent behavior” by launching campaigns to promote “readily available and easy-to-use” techniques parents can use to control kids’ exposure to gruesome movies and TV shows. The initiative includes PSAs, boosted websites, in-theater ads and other platforms to push existing ratings systems, parental controls and informational resources — including many that were available long before Newtown.
Related: Showbiz Groups Pledge “To Seek Meaningful Solutions” On Gun Violence Read More »
A coalition of broadcasters, wireless providers, and chip makers Thursday urged the FCC to adopt guidelines to minimize potential conflict between broadcasters and wireless companies as the agency strives to cope with rising stress on bandwidth. Because of ever-increasing demand for mobile devices, the FCC proposed in September that broadcasters voluntarily give up some of their allotted bandwidth in exchange for a share of the proceeds when that bandwidth is auctioned to wireless broadband providers. The National Association of Broadcasters initially worried that broadcasters in smaller markets would be more likely to give up spectrum than those in urban markets. But it has turned out that a number of broadcasters in larger markets are willing to sell spectrum rights. Coalition goals cover a range of technical issues that are intended to protect TV and wireless signals against interference from each other and for minimum and maximum size specifications for individual segments of spectrum. The coalition also specifically calls for the FCC to expedite spectrum coordination with Canada and Mexico. In addition to NAB coalition members include Intel, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Qualcomm. You can read a copy of the coalition letter here.
Broadcasters are not happy with today’s FCC passage of a rule that will force stations to put their political advertising information — like who is buying what time and for how much — online. Stations already have to compile and make available the information as public entities, but they were against putting things like ad rates online that could more easily be seen by marketplace rivals. Now the top 50 markets must post their data to an open FCC database this year — during the lucrative presidential election season — and all stations must comply by 2014. “By forcing broadcasters to be the only medium to disclose on the Internet our political advertising rates, the FCC jeopardizes the competitive standing of stations that provide local news, entertainment, sports and life-saving weather information free of charge to tens of millions of Americans daily,” the National Association of Broadcasters said in response to the vote, adding “we will be seeking guidance from our Board of Directors regarding our options.”
Related: TV Station Political Ad Data Will Be Available Online, One Way Or Another
They must have known it was coming, though. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski used his keynote speech earlier this month in the broadcasters’ backyard, the NAB Show, to say opposition to the proposal was “against technology, against transparency and against journalism.” Public interest groups agreed today. ”We’re pleased that the FCC has ignored the overheated rhetoric … Read More »
When Netflix gets around to filming new episodes of Arrested Development — show creator Mitch Hurwitz says production will begin this summer — the streaming video service will release all 10 new segments at once, according to a report on Mashable. The new episodes will be released “sometime next year,” Netflix said last night at NAB in Las Vegas. The service is bringing back the Fox-Imagine series that was canceled in 2006 because of poor ratings, but the intense loyalty of the show’s fans convinced Hurwitz and Netflix it was worth another shot. New episodes will focus on a single individual character, Hurwitz told the audience, and would be similar to those from the past. He didn’t offer specifics about storyline. Netflix originally planned to present the show to subscribers during the first half of 2013. The timing is less certain now. Hurwitz also expressed hope it might be possible to produce an additional season if those initial 10 new segs prove successful. Netflix previously released all eight episodes of Lilyhammer, the company’s initial push into original programming and plans to bring it back for a second season.
Related: Arrested Development Actors To Reunite At NAB Session
UPDATED: FCC chairman Julius Genachowski waded into political season during his keynote today at the NAB Show, the annual content confab that hit full speed today with speeches from key broadcast players. Genachowski said that opposition to a proposal that would require stations to post online how much candidates spend on ads is “against technology, against transparency and against journalism.” The FCC will vote on the matter April 27. Such information has long been available to any citizen who takes the time to go down to a station and look through records in person. However, many NAB members worry that putting the hard numbers online could risk giving away individual station ad rates to local and regional rivals, especially in the highly competitive local news market. In his speech today, the FCC chief estimated that total political ad spending could be as high as $3B this election year. Read More »
National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith told the industry crowd at the NAB Show in Las Vegas today to beware of broadcasters’ wireless rivals while touting the lobbying group’s legislative victories over the past year. Smith, giving the State of the Industry address this morning, warned that telecommunications companies who have been grabbing spectrum for mobile TV services will be seeking more. “They want us out of this game,” he said in his prepared remarks. “We can’t let down our guard.” In another major part of Smith’s keynote, he cited NAB’s efforts to help knock down the Performance Rights Act and shape spectrum laws that benefited broadcasters, calling the wins “game-changers” that “elevated the stature of NAB in Washington.” Said Smith: “We averted a spectrum grab from misguided friends who would have you believe that broadcasting is yesterday’s technology.” Read More »
Who’d have thought that TV broadcasters would be so bent out of shape by a proposal to let Web users see political ad sales information that stations already provide on paper to people who visit a station? But they are, and they’re leaving little to chance as the FCC heads toward an April 27 meeting where commissioners are due to vote on a measure that would require stations to feed their info to an FCC database. NAB chief Gordon Smith met yesterday with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski saying that stations shouldn’t be required to change. Among his reasons: Broadcasters fear that they’ll lose bargaining leverage with advertisers. If buyers can go online and see how much a station charged for specific political ads, the thinking goes, then they’d know how low a station’s willing to go. Federal law enables candidates to pay the lowest rates a station provides to its most favored commercial advertisers. Smith talked about a possible compromise that would only require stations to feed the FCC info about total charges for political ads — requiring those interested in specific invoices to visit the stations. Read More »
You have to hand it to Pro Publica for coming up with a creative work-around to one of the weirdest disputes at the FCC — the debate over whether to make local TV station data about political advertising available online. The public interest journalism group has begun to enlist people to visit local TV stations and copy the info about political ads that they’re already required to make public on paper. Reporters will put the files online for everyone to see. “These paper files contain detailed data on all political ads that run on the channel, such as when they aired, who bought the time and how much they paid,” Pro Publica says. ”It’s a transparency gold mine, allowing the public to see how campaigns and outside groups are influencing elections.” The FCC seems to share that desire to make the info easy for people to find. It’s weighing a proposal that would require stations to put their reports online. Public interest groups love the idea. The deans or directors of 12 major college journalism programs also told the FCC that the files include “vital information about the American political system.” Read More »