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Issue Watch

2012 Issue Watch

ITU Chief Says WCIT-12 Is Not About Freedom of Expression

The delegates at a plenary session of the International Telecommunications Union's WCIT-12 telecom treaty conference in Dubai on Tuesday voted "overwhelmingly" to support the UN's universal declaration of human rights, affirming freedom of opinion and expression through "any medium."  That was an effort to allay fears that the conference would be about giving those countries more control over Internet conference. Tunisia also introduced a proposal to explicitly extend that to online in the treaties by adding language that says "the same rights that people have offline mustalso be protected online."

But according to a spokesperson for ITU following a press conference at which Secretary General Hamadoun Touré took no questions, thedelegates did not agree to the U.S. and Canada request that the conference first deal with proposals to change the definition of telecommunications or who the treaties apply to before getting down to the details of any revisions of the treaties. "I don't believe that was the case," he said in response to whether the definitional changes.

Touré did say that discussion had begun on who the treaties apply to, but that that would continue.  According to an attendee at the conference, on Monday the European nations joined the U.S. and Canada in that call for dealing with definitions first.  » Read More

Critic Takes Aim at FCC Staff's Defense of Ownership Change

Free Press policy director Matt Wood took issue Monday with FCC Media Bureau chief Bill Lake's defense of his chairman's media ownership item.

"[B]ased on what we do know, it is flat-out wrong to suggest that the top four ranking exemption would prevent ownership of a top TV station and a major newspaper in the same market," he said. In a statement  Monday (Dec. 3), Lake had said that suggestions the item would make it easier to own a top TV station and a major newspaper were off base.

"Reports that the order would make it easier to own a top TV station and a major newspaper in a market are wrong," he said. "In fact, the order would strengthen the current rule by creating an express presumption against a waiver of the cross-ownership ban to allow such a combination." 

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is proposing to loosen the ban on newspaper/TV cross-ownership in the top 20 markets, but a combo among the top four TV stations and a "major" newspaper would be presumed not in the public interest. In addition, said Lake, "the proposed order preserves the existing TV duopoly rule, which forbids ownership of more than one of the top four TV stations in any market."

Wood said the FCC may be trying to put a damper on News Corp. buying the L.A. Times or Chicago Tribune, but even that "misses the mark," he said, since the Fox stations in L.A. and Chicago often are not in the top four in their markets due to the strength of the Univision stations there. "So, [News Corp. chairman] Rupert Murdoch could still target those flagship newspapers thanks to the rule change this chairman is proposing," he said.  » Read More

Genachowski: Cybersecurity Should Not Be Part of ITU Treaties

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined various ways the U.S. government, particularly his commission, was combating cyberattacks, but that does not include a coordinated global effort if it means adding cybersecurity provisions to international telecommunication regulations.

He was echoing Ambassador Terry Kramer, who was tapped by President Obama to lead the U.S. delegation to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT 12) in Dubai next month, and who raised similar concerns in an American Enterprise Institute speech and panel discussion earlier this week.

Genachowski and Kramer's concerns, shared by a bipartisan -- for once -- Congress are that adding cybersecurity to the ITU to-do list is part of an effort to expand current  treaties on ITRS (International Telecommunications Regulations) into the Internet space, and give governments like China, Russia and some Arab states an avenue for control of content and its free flow. » Read More

FCC Proposes Loosening TV/Newspaper Cross-Ownership Ban ... Again

According to commission sources, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has circulated a media ownership order that loosens the newspaper/TV cross-ownership ban in the top 20 markets and gets rid of the ban on radio/TV cross-ownership and radio/newspaper cross-ownership.

The FCC will loosen the newspaper-TV cross-ownership ban by finding that cross-ownerships in the top 20 markets are presumptively in the public interest, along the lines of changes made by the FCC under former chairman Kevin Martin in 2007.

Broadcasters had been pushing the FCC to scrap the ban, rather than just loosen it, and to provide some relief from local market ownership caps. » Read More

Kramer: WCIT Conference Must Steer Clear of Internet

The U.S. is nonnegotiable on the point that international telecom treaties not be expanded to include the Internet, and Ambassador Terry Kramer, tapped by President Obama to lead the U.S. delegation to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT 12) in Dubai next month, said as much so Tuesday in no uncertain terms.

At an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) event in Washington on Tuesday, he signaled that the U.S. could walk if the conference morphed into an effort to extend the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) treaties on traditional telecom into Internet governance and content control, which he pointed could come via innocuous-sounding changes. FCC commissioner Robert McDowell, who was also a speaker, seconded that motion. » Read More

A Facebook court battle: Is ‘liking’ something protected free speech?

Daniel Ray Carter Jr. logged on to Facebook and did what millions do each day: He “liked” a page by clicking the site’s thumbs up icon.  The problem was that the page was for a candidate who was challenging his boss, the sheriff of Hampton, Va.

That simple mouse click, Carter says, caused the sheriff to fire him from his job as a deputy and put him at the center of an emerging First Amendment debate over the ubiquitous digital seal of approval: Is liking something on Facebook protected free speech?

Carter filed a lawsuit claiming that his First Amendment rights had been violated, and his case has reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.  This week, Facebook and the ACLU filed briefs supporting what they say is Carter’s constitutional right to express his opinion, signaling the case’s potentially precedent-setting nature.

The interest was sparked by a lower court’s ruling that “liking” a page does not warrant protection because it does not involve “actual statements.”  If the ruling is upheld, the ACLU and others worry, a host of Web-based, mouse-click actions, such as re-tweeting (hitting a button to post someone else’s tweet on your Twitter account), won’t be protected as free speech.  » Read More

FCC Denies Stay of Online Public File Rule Change

The FCC has denied NAB's request that the agency stay the effectuation of the new online public file rules for television stations.  The rules are due to take effect Aug. 2. The commission has planned a demo next Tuesday, July 17, of the interface that broadcasters would use to upload their files to the agency's new online public file database, we've reported.

NAB had also filed a Petition for Review at a federal appeals court. This week, anticipating the FCC's rejection, NAB filed a separate motion asking the appeals court to stay the activation of the rules while the court considers the trade group's petition.  NAB has called the new requirement arbitrary and capricious, and says requiring TV stations to place their public inspection files online puts them at a disadvantage. That's because the files would also include political files, including the price of political advertising — a requirement their satellite and cable competitors do not have, NAB argues.

The FCC, which is also considering applying the new requirement to radio, says the rules will make stations' public documents easier for the public to find.  In the agency's decision, the commission says NAB failed to show the new rules would cause stations irreparable harm and that the NAB is likely to prevail on the merits of its claims. NAB has also failed to show that other parties would not be harmed if a stay is granted or that a stay would serve the public interest, said the FCC.  » Read More

Supreme Court: Lying About Military Medals Is Protected by Constitution

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a federal law that made it a crime to falsely claim being awarded a top military honor, saying the law smacked of an Orwellian Truth Ministry and threatened free speech.  The court invalidated the Stolen Valor Act, under which a California man, Xavier Alvarez, 54, was convicted for claiming falsely in 2007 that he had been awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor.  But Alvarez’s attorneys convinced a lower court that his untruths were protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. And Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed in a 6 to 3 decision.

“Lying was his habit,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote of Alvarez.  He “lied when he said that he played hockey for the Detroit Red Wings and that he once married a starlet from Mexico.”  And he lied “in announcing he held the ... Medal of Honor,” Kennedy wrote.  “None of this was true.  For all the record shows ... [the] statements were but a pathetic attempt to gain respect that eluded him.”  But they are not illegal, he concluded.  » Read More

OMB Approves Online Political File Paperwork Collection

According to the Sunlight Foundation, which has been pushing for TV station online political file posting, the Office of Management and Budget late last week informed the FCC it had approved the paperwork-collection requirements of the FCC's online political file posting order.  OMB has to approve any new regs that impose new paperwork collection requirements.  A National Association of Broadcasters spokesperson also said the rules had been approved. An FCC spokesperson was not available for comment.  The rules, which were approved in April, have not yet been published in the Federal Register. The new requirement does not become effective until 30 days afterthat.  The FCC is requiring the top four network affiliated TV stations in the top 50 markets to send the FCC their political files, which include spot prices, for posting in a database administered by the FCC.  The balance of TV stations will follow suit within two years, though the FCC will seek comment after ayear on how the initial requirement is impacting those first 200 stations.  » Read More

Supreme Court Says FCC Indecency Policy, as Applied, Was Too Vague

The Supreme Court Thursday vacated a Second Circuit decision that the FCC's indecency enforcement regime as applied to swearing and nudity on Fox and ABC TV stations was unconstitutional, but concluded that the FCC did not give broadcasters sufficient notice.

It is a victory for Fox and ABC, who were the subjects of the complaints at issue -- and in ABC's case a fine -- but not for First Amendment attorneys hoping for the Court to rule on the constitutionality of the overarching policy. It also leaves the FCC's indecency enforcement policy in limbo, and likely means the FCC will not be handing out fines or findings anytime soon.

We're pleased with the decision of the Supreme Court regarding the episode of NYPD Blue, and we are reviewing the entire ruling carefully,"  said ABC in a statement.

The Court did not reach the constitutionality of the FCC indecency enforcement policy, but instead said that "because the Commission failed to give Fox or ABC fair notice prior to the broadcasts inquestion that fleeting expletives and momentary nudity could be found actionably indecent, the Commission's standards as applied to these broadcasts were vague."

The decision was unanimous -- Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor did not participate -- and the Court went out of its way to point out how narrow the ruling was.  » Read More

Broadcast Groups Petition FCC To Reconsider Political File Posting Decision

Major broadcast groups have asked the FCC to reconsider its requirement that they put sensitive political information online "immediately and for everybody to see," offering an opt-in alternative for broadcasters they say would expand the reporting requirement without diminishing their ability to compete in the marketplace.  In a petition filed on Monday, the deadline for filing for reconsideration of the FCC's April vote requiring the posting of TV stationpublic files online, the broadcasters against pressed for a compromise of posting aggregate political spot figures.  Broadcasters signing on to the petition are Barrington, Belo, Cox, Scripps, Hearst, Gannett, LIN, Meredith, Post-Newsweek, Raycom and Schurz.  
» Read More

Labor Department backs off plan forcing reporters to use government-issued computers

The Labor Department has backed off a plan to force news agencies to use government-issued computers and other equipment to report on jobless reports and other key economic data, following a GOP-led House hearing this week, according to several published reports.

Agency officials have said they want reporters who analyze, then write about economic reports inside their so-called “lock up” room to use U.S. computers, software and Internet lines so the government can further protect against such potential security breaches as hacking.

But the plan also resulted in cries about potential free-speech violations and the government now having computer access to news agencies.

“This proposal threatens the First Amendment,” Bloomberg News Executive Editor Dan Moss said during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. “The government would literally open the reporters’ notebooks.”

Carl Fillichio, a Labor Department communications specialist, told committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., at the close of the hearing Wednesday that he would provide some flexibility on the June 15 deadline.  » Read More

Media Execs In Dispute With Labor Department Cite Progress

Media organization executives are citing progress in their dispute with the Labor Department over its proposal to require news organizations to use government computers to file stories on jobs data.  Testifying to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, Reuters and Bloomberg News officials revealed little detail about the movement they said occurred in talks with administration officials.  Dow Jones and The Associated Press have also participated.  The news organizations have fought the proposal to use government equipment.  Until now, data are given to reporters in a department "lock up" room minutes before the official release so they can prepare their stories and then file them when the information is publicly released. The department had originally proposed requiring reporters to use government computers, not their own equipment. » Read More

1st Amendment Fight Pits Media, Labor Department Over Jobs Data Rules

As if there weren't reason enough to be nervous on jobs day. News reports on future government employment figures could be riddled with errors, while the government tramples the First Amendment rights of the reporters themselves.

[Read about the latest troubling federal debt figures.]

That was what representatives from the journalism industry said at a Wednesday House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing that addressed new Labor Department protocol for how the monthly employment report is released.

"Under the DOL proposal, the government would own and control the reporters' notebook. This is an unheard of intrusion of government into one of [our] most cherished freedoms," said Daniel Moss, executive editor for economy and international government at Bloomberg News, in his testimony before the committee….  » Read More

New Rules on Labor Data Risk Market Turmoil: Sen. Blunt

The Department of Labor’s move to restrict how journalists transmit market-sensitive economic data risks disrupting financial markets, Senator Roy Blunt said.  In a letter to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Blunt, a Missouri Republican, objected to the agency’s plan to have media organizations remove from the department computer software, hardware and communications lines used to transmit news on data such as the unemployment rate and consumer prices.  “Given the market-moving impact of these numbers and the largely automated processes of today’s market institutions, even a minor flaw in the timing or accuracy of this data could result in a destructive impact on global markets,” Blunt wrote in his letter, dated today. » Read More

DOL Still Mum on Data Lockup Decision

Officials are not instituting major changes to their "lockup" process for releasing new jobless and unemployment data to selected media outlets because of two apparent violations by participating journalists in recent years, according to a knowledgable Labor Department official.  The changes include forcing participating journalists to use government-provided computers, software and hardware instead of their own during the 30 minutes prior to general release of the data when they get the new numbers and write their initial news stories and analyses about them.  Interested media organizations are also being required to re-apply for credentials, with the understanding that there are a limited number of seats available in the secured "lockdown" room, and that no one will be guaranteed access without clearing the new credentially process. » Read More

FCC Votes To Post TV Station Political Files Online

The FCC voted Friday to require TV stations to publish their public files online. Those are the files that contain information about, among other things, their compliance with kids TV programming minimums, EEO files, joint sales agreements and files on political ad buys.

The commission will initially require the online political posting from TV stations affiliated with the Big Four networks in the top 50 markets -- within 30 days after the rules take effect -- then the rest of the stations two years after that. The other public files must be posted by all stations within six months after the rules go into effect. It will not require posting existing political file information (it must be kept for two years), only new information going forward.

The commission will examine the impact of the political file online posting after a year, before it applies to all stations….  » Read More

Statement by FCC Comm. Robert McDowell

ATSC's Richer Named Chairman of Future of Broadcast Television Initiative

The Future of Broadcast Television (FoBTV) initiative has announced that Mark Richer, who is president of Advanced Television Systems Committee, has been elected FoBTV chairman and that Phil Laven, chairman of the Digital Video Broadcasting Project (DVB) has been named FoBTV vice chairman.  

In addition, Wenjun Zhang of NERC-DTV was named its first chairman of the FoBTV Technical Committee.

The formation of the group was announced last week at NAB, when a number of major broadcasters, standards organizations, research groups and industry associations come together in an effort to develop more standardized technologies for the next generation of terrestrial broadcasting.  The effort, if successful, would mark a major shift from the traditional broadcast landscape, where broadcasters have traditionally adopted different standards in different regions of the world….  » Read More

NRB: DeMint/Scalise Bill Could Be 'Fatal' To Religious Stations

National Religious Broadcasters President Frank Wright sent letters to Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) Monday telling them their Next Generation Television Marketplace Act could be "fatal" to religious broadcasters.

The legislators introduced Senate and House versions of that deregulatory chain saw last fall, aimed at clearing out "decades-old" regs they argue represent the government inappropriately picking winners and losers in the marketplace.

The bill would scrap the must-carry mandate, repeal retransmission consent provisions and compulsory licenses, and get rid of ownership rules.

It is extremely unlikely to pass, but that did not stop Wright from warning its sponsors that getting rid of must-carry rules "may harm the ability of millions of Americans to continue accessing the religious programming on which they rely." » Read More

High Court fails to signal position on ownership

The Supreme Court last week did not issue an up or down vote on broadcasters’ challenge to the FCC’s media ownership rules. That leaves the status of media ownership rules in about the same place they have been for almost a decade—essentially unresolved, and with broadcasters still lacking the regulatory certainty to chart an otherwise challenging future. 

The Court took no action after reportedly conferencing on three broadcaster appeals to the 3rd Circuit Court decision vacating the newspaper/broadcast crossownership changes and upholding the FCC’s 2007 decision—one reinforced by the present commission—not to loosen duopoly rules. As it stands, neither the FCC nor broadcasters know whether the Court will hear the appeals, which means the FCC cannot proceed unimpeded with its proposed rule modifications since they could wind up being mooted…. » Read More

NCTA: Time To Ditch Dual Carriage

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association is ready for the FCC to stop requiring it to carry TV stations in both analog and digital versions, arguing the dual carriage mandate is consumer unfriendly, unwieldy, no longer justifiable in a fiercely competitive marketplace, and unconstitutional.

The commission last month had suggested that the three-year requirement that cable operators carry must carry stations in both formats as part of the 2009 DTV transition should be extended another three years.  While cable operators belonging to NCTA voluntarily agreed to the initial three-year carriage, even saying they would do so whether or not there was a mandate, they are ready to free up that bandwidth for the demands of an HD-filled, over-the-top delivered world.  Cable ops are also required to deliver must-carry stations in HD if that is how they are delivered over-the-air.  

The FCC voted in September 2007 to mandate dual-carriage for three years beyond the DTV switchover date of Feb. 17, 2009.  The FCC last month asked for comment on whether to extend the mandate, clarifying that when the DTV date was moved to June 12, so was the three-year end date, which gives the FCC until June 12 of this year to extend the requirement or let it sunset. » Full Story

NAB Supports Extending Cable Carriage Mandate

Not surprisingly, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) wants the FCC to retain its cable analog carriage mandate for another three years. NAB also supports small cable operators' bid to retain their waiver of the HD carriage mandate for another three years.  "The Viewability Rule has worked well to minimize the disruption of the digital transition to cable subscribers with analog receivers," NAB said.  "Since there remain millions of analog receivers served by cable systems, the Commissionshould extend the Viewability Rule to ensure compliance with the Communications Act's command that must carry signals be provided to and viewable by all subscribers to a cable system."

The commission last month asked whether it should extend the mandate that cableoperators deliver all TV stations' digital signals in analog format to analog customers or, alternatively, make sure all its customers have the equipment to view a digital signal. » Full Story

Industry Reacts to FCC's Proposed 
Changes to Media Ownership Rules

The industry had varied reactions to the FCC's proposed modifications to its media ownership rules.  NAB, Gray Television, NAA support repeal of the cross-ownership ban, while Free Press and ATVA oppose relaxation of therules.  The following arereactions from various media companies and organizations.

NAB: FCC Should Allow More Duopolies in More Markets
Association says the newspaper-broadcasting cross-ownership rules should be scrapped More

Free Press Opposes FCC Proposal to Relax Ownership Rules
Says broadcasters are skirting the rules, should be treated like duopoly More

ATVA Members: FCC Should Tighten Ownership Regs On Broadcasters
Want the FCC to prohibit stations in the same market from coordinating retransmission consent negotiations More

NAA: FCC Retention of Cross-Ownership Ban Would Violate Administrative Procedures Act
Newspaper association says repealing ban would boost investment in TV stations, newspapers More

Gray Television Asks FCC to Repeal TV Duopoly Rule
Used recent coverage of deadly twisters to argue that "innovative cost-sharing and services arrangements" would help provide even more such life-saving coverage More

» Full Story

Megaupload users' data may get zapped this week

Federal prosecutors say Megaupload users' data could be deleted as soon as Thursday (Feb. 2).  U.S. prosecutors blocked access to the electronic file-sharing service Jan. 19 and charged seven men, saying the company facilitated millions of illegal downloads of movies, music and other content.  The company says its users, who it claimed numbers 50 million a day, stored their own data, including family photographs and personal documents, through its service.  Users haven't been able to see their data since the government shutdown, but there has been hope they would be able to get it back.  Megaupload contracted outside companies to store the data, but company attorney Ira Rothken said Sunday that the government has frozen the company's money. A letter filed in the case Friday by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said Dulles-based Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications Group, which is based in the District, may begin deleting files Thursday….  » Full Story

PIPA Senate vote to be delayed, Reid announces

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced Friday he would delay consideration of measure to combat online piracy, bowing to pressure from a coalition of Internet companies, including Google and Wikipedia, that rallied consumers to their side by saying the legislation could lead to the censorship of popular sites.  In a statement, Reid said he would delay the vote scheduled for Tuesday to begin consideration until the Senate Judiciary Committee could make more progress.  “We made good progress through the discussions we’ve held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks,” Reid said.  The announcement by Reid comes two days after Wikipedia, Reddit and other prominent Web sites protested the planned vote by blacking out their sites -- a move that drew widespread attention and spurred a swift reaction from many lawmakers who had previously been supportive of or ambivalent toward the anti-piracy measures.
» Full Story

Website Megaupload shuttered on piracy charges

Federal authorities shut down one of the Web’s most popular sites Thursday on charges that it illegally shared movies, television shows and e-books, prompting hackers to retaliate by blocking access to several Web sites, including those of the Justice Department and Universal Music.  The shutdown of Megaupload was part of a federal indictment accusing the company of running an international criminal organization that allowed consumers to easily watch or share pirated content.  The site’s offerings were a virtual bazaar of what the Internet has to offer, including pornography and illegally copied video games, federal officials said.  In some cases, people could see movies before they were released in theaters.  » Full  Story

Issa Introduces OPEN Act as Alternative to SOPA

Rep. Darrell Issa Wednesday officially introduced H.R. 3782, the OPEN (Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade) Act, which is being shopped by critics of the Stop OnlineProtection Act (SOPA) as a more 'net-friendly alternative to combat online piracy.  The bill gives the International Trade Commission the charge of investigating the importation of digital content by foreign rogue Websites, just as it does for the importation of illegally imported hard goods.  It also targets the funding of proved infringers.  Issa said the bill "delivers stronger intellectual property rights for American artists and innovators while protecting the open, accessible Internet Americans deserve."  The bill has also been introduced in the Senate by Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).  The pair of legislators circulated a draft of the bill last month.  The studios and major publishers and unions backing SOPA and PROTECT IP have dismissed the bill.  The Copyright Alliance, for example, has said that the bill offers no relief to independent content creators battling online piracy from foreign Web sites.  The alliance, which includes NBCUniversal, the National Association of Broadcasters, Viacom, Disney, Time Warner, Sony, News Corp., various guilds and a host of other publishers and artist associations, was blunt in its critique.  It said the bill was impractical for artists, had ineffective penalties, provided an insurmountable burden of proof of infringement, gave the ITC inefficient resources, and had no Justice Department enforcement. » Full Story

The Google+ Antitrust Smoking Gun

Usually one of the hardest things to prove in an antitrust case is anti-competitive intent and motive, but Google's new CEO Larry Page has made that much easier for antitrust authorities by unabashedly tying and leveraging Google's search dominance with Google+ in a myriad of overt and covert ways. Upon becoming CEO last April, Mr. Page instituted a new "grand plan" to remake Google with social as the new integrating principle for Google's soon-to-be, fully-integrated web platform, branded simply as Google+; and then Mr. Page underscored the central importance of this business transformation to Google by officially tying all Google "employees' bonuses to the success of Google's social strategy." In a company-wide memo, Google CEO Larry Page mandated that 25% of all Google employees' 2011 bonuses would be tied to the success of its social effort, Google+. » Full Story

Supreme Court Case Tests FCC’s Power To Police TV Indecency 

Researchers at the Parents Television Council have helpful drop-down menus on their computers loaded with just about every profanity and dirty slang term imaginable.  They are handy shortcuts – there are additional ones for violent and sexual content – as the nonprofit group’s headphone-wearing analysts monitor every network prime-time entertainment broadcast for offensive language, bleeped profanity, flashes of nudity, threesomes and gore.  The council documents the increasing coarseness of television broadcasts to rate shows and pressure advertisers and provides a one-click process for supporters to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.  More than 1.4 million complaints are pending.  But the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Tuesday about whether the FCC should still have a role in policing the nation’s airwaves or whether its indecency regulations violate guarantees of free speech and due process.  The networks have argued successfully in lower courts that in a revolutionized world in which they exist “side by side” with cable channels that are beyond the FCC’s regulation, singling them out is not only nonsensical but unconstitutional….  » Full Story

AP, NYTimes, McClatchy, others launch NewsRight online rights clearinghouse

The Associated Press and 28 news organizations, including The New York Times Co. and The Washington Post Co., are launching a company that will measure the unpaid online use of their original reporting and seek to convert unauthorized websites, blogs and other newsgathering services into paying customers.  The company, called NewsRight, brings together efforts started by the AP and its partners in October 2010 to track the use of stories on websites, blogs and other Internet forums through what it calls the News Registry.  The company said Thursday that it is open for business.  The organization is led by former ABC News president David Westin.  NewsRight encodes original stories with hidden data that includes the writer's name and when it was published.  The encoded stories send back reports to the registry that describe where a story is being used and who is reading it.  The technology can even locate stories that have been cut and pasted in whole or in part….  » Full Story

FCC seeks to change regulation of corporate interests disclosures on TV news

TV newscasts are increasingly seeded with corporate advertising masquerading as news - and the federal government wants to do something about it.  Concerned that subtle “pay-for-play” marketing ploys are seeping into the news, the Federal Communications Commission has proposed a regulation that would require the nation’s 1,500 commercial TV stations to disclose online the corporate interests behind the news.  The proposal, which could take months to be enacted, has drawn praise from media watchdogs and consumer groups that have criticized the current system, which requires broadcasters to disclose that an advertiser paid for a mention on the news only in the closing credits of a broadcast…. » Full Story