Lawmakers Say Apple Exploits Loopholes To Avoid Paying $10B A Year In U.S. Taxes

By | Monday May 20, 2013 @ 3:26pm PDT

Apple CEO Tim Cook can expect a tough grilling about his company’s tax practices tomorrow when he appears before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing on “Offshore Profit Shifting and the U.S. Tax Code.” An 18-month bipartisan investigation — whose findings were summarized in a memo released today – charges that Apple’s offshore subsidiary, Apple Operations International, reported net income of $30B from 2009 to 2012 but “declined to declare any tax residence, filed no corporate income tax return, and paid no corporate income taxes to any national government for five years.” In addition, Ireland-based Apple Sales International generated $74B in sales income over four years but allegedly “paid taxes on only a tiny fraction of that income” after the company negotiated a deal with the government that enabled Apple to pay a tax rate of less than 2% vs the statutory rate of 12%. Read More »

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Ashley Judd Not Running For Senate

By | Wednesday March 27, 2013 @ 2:28pm PDT

Ashley Judd announced today “after serious and thorough contemplation” that she will not be running for the U.S. Senate. This comes after weeks of speculation that the Democrat supporting actress would challenge Republican Read More »

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Lawmakers Ponder: Are Big Media Companies Too Powerful?

That wasn’t the precise topic of the Senate Commerce Committee hearing today. (It had the boring title: “The Cable Act at 20.”) But the question — as well as ones about whether the federal government over-regulates media — bubbled underneath the discussion of problems including higher-than-inflation annual pay TV price hikes, and contract disputes that sometimes result in blackouts of consumers’ favorite channels. Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W Va.) says that there’s too little competition in a system where pay TV customers “are still forced to pick larger and larger packages of channels no matter how few they watch.” His view resonated with Colleen Abdoulah, a witness who chairs the American Cable Association which primarily represents small and mid-sized cable operators. She says that broadcasters make “crazy payments for sports (rights) because they can be forced onto consumers…This abuse of power should be outlawed.” Mark Cooper of the Consumers Federation of America also called for changes that would enable pay TV customers to just buy the channels they want. “The only way to break the market power (of major networks and programmers) is to ensure consumers have choices.” Read More »

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Verizon And Comcast Emerge Unscathed From Inquiry Into Spectrum And Co-Op Pact

By | Wednesday March 21, 2012 @ 1:57pm PDT

Members of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee didn’t seem to have the technical knowledge, the time, or perhaps the will to pin down Verizon and Comcast execs who testified at today’s hearing about the controversial partnership arrangement the companies created in December. Verizon agreed to pay $3.6B for wireless spectrum that several cable giants control, and both camps agreed to cross promote each other’s products in markets where they don’t compete head-to-head. The deal is under review at the Justice Department and FCC. Verizon says that the collaboration won’t affect its efforts to roll out FiOS video and broadband service. It “has always been intended to reach a relatively small” part of the country, the company’s General Counsel Randal Milch said. He added that “Wall Street punished us for the massive investment we made in FiOS…We owe it to our shareholders to give them a return.” Comcast EVP David Cohen echoed the theme that “there’s nothing in these transactions that will stop us from trying to beat the brains out of FiOS.” Read More »

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FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules Survive Senate Vote Following Veto Threat

By | Thursday November 10, 2011 @ 11:07am PST

A Republican effort to overturn the FCC’s net neutrality rules in the Senate was shot down today, two days after President Obama vowed to veto any such override. The regulations are set to take effect on November 20. Senate … Read More »

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Senate Panel OKs Felony Streaming Act

By | Thursday June 16, 2011 @ 11:38am PDT

Three weeks after signing off on the PROTECT IP Act, the Senate Judiciary Committee today approved the Commercial Felony Streaming Act, which classifies illegal online streaming of copyrighted content a felony. The bill essentially cleans up the language to make illegal streaming the same level of crime as illegal peer-to-peer downloading, which is already a felony. The move was praised by the Hollywood creative community, which is backing the tougher law. “The illegal streaming of motion pictures and television programming is as financially devastating for our industry as is illegal downloading,” said Jean Prewitt, president and CEO of the IFTA, which is part of an industry coalition that includes the MPAA and NATO. “Stealing is stealing, regardless of the means in which the product is being received. This legislation is a critical step forward in the piracy fight and, we commend the Committee for their support.” Said a joint statement from AFTRA, the DGA, IATSE, SAG, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the American Federation of Musicians: Read More »

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U.S. Senators Introduce Anti-Piracy Law To Fight Foreign Websites That Steal Content

Under normal circumstances in these trying times in Hollywood, the indies feel frozen out by the majors, and the exhibitors have big beefs with the studios, too. Yet here they are today united because of proposed federal legislation. A bipartisan coalition of several U.S. Senators — Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin), Chris Coons (D-Delaware) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) — introduced and/or are sponsoring the Protect IP Bill, which aims to fight online infringement and counterfeiting by deterring, preventing, and rooting out websites that profit from trafficking in stolen content. Uniting in support of the bill are the major studios’ lobbying group the MPAA, The Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).

According to the MPAA, the PROTECT IP Act targets foreign websites:

Formerly operating outside the realm of U.S. law, they would no longer be allowed to exploit U.S. registrars, registries, Internet service providers, payment processors, search engines and ad placement services to sustain their illicit online businesses. Internet sites that steal and distribute American intellectual property are often foreign-owned and operated, or reside at domain names that are not registered through a U.S.-based registry or registrar, setting them outside the scope of U.S. law enforcement.

Read More »

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Ban On Movie Futures Trading Passes Congress & Awaits Obama’s Signature

The U.S. Senate today approved financial reform legislation that includes a ban on futures trading on motion picture box office results. Since the bill was already approved by the U.S. House Of Representatives, it now is on its way to the White House for President Obama’s signature. Bob Pisano, Interim … Read More »

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Oprah Winfrey Eyed For U.S. Senate Seat

By | Monday June 28, 2010 @ 10:27am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Rod Blagojevich was considering appointing Oprah Winfrey to the Illinois Senate seat to replace Barack Obama, according to a wiretap played today at the former Illinois governor’s corruption trial. Per news reports, on the tape recorded on Dec. 2 Blagojevich and his former chief of staff John Harris go over … Read More »

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