I’ll believe it when my phone stops filling up with these relentless scam voice mails…
US telecom providers will now be required to block millions of illegal robocalls a day advertising extended vehicle warranties, the Federal Communications Commission said Thursday, taking aim at a group of individuals accused of sending more than 8 billion such messages since 2018.
Thursday’s order by the FCC requires voice providers to stop carrying calls the agency has linked to 13 individuals and six companies, mostly based in Texas and California but also in such far-flung places as Hungary.
The robocalls produced by the group typically begin with recorded lines such as, “We’ve been trying to reach you concerning your car’s extended warranty,” the FCC order said.
Such calls represented the single largest source of consumer complaints to the FCC in each of the past two years, adding up to thousands of complaints a year.
Kevin Crull, chief operating officer at Sprint, envisions a world in the coming years where his phone is able to automatically book an Uber ride from an airport based on a calendar reminder that he created about an upcoming flight. The calendar reminder feeds real-time travel stats to his device and then recommends a meal for his Uber driver to pick up on the way based on what items he has previously ordered through Uber Eats.
“I can see in the future where it brings in information from other devices and third-party services to get much more predictive and successful in how we’re targeting people,” he said.
Crull’s futuristic scenario isn’t just wishful (or hungry) thinking. It’s the product of 5G technology that constantly pings data back and forth between smartphones and connected devices, making it possible for devices to essentially predict what actions a consumer takes. At its core, the widespread rollout of 5G promises to increase connection speeds by up to 10 times while cutting latency by a factor of five, he said. Videos—and commercials—powered with 5G will stream faster and look crisper on smartphones. And with more data flowing quickly between networks and devices, the so-called Internet of Things will take a bit more shape for marketers who have long strived to ping a user’s smartphone with a relevant message as he passes a billboard or store.
Here’s the nub: 5 G as a technology is not necessarily better for average users, but it sure is for the industries that want to monetize your information and sell it, and you, to corporations.
Jogging After the End of Times
For instance: Augmented Reality, and self-driving cars – with television screens…
By the middle of next year, Sprint plans to have 5G up and running “in many markets,” while AT&T plans to equip 12 markets including Atlanta and Dallas with mobile 5G this year. T-Mobile says that it’s on track to have 5G rolled out to 30 cities such as New York and Los Angeles in 2018, and Verizon is also enabling five markets including Sacramento, Calif., with the technology.
For advertisers, 5G opens up new video opportunities with formats like virtual reality and interactive clips that require hefty amounts of data to view today. Sprint’s Crull said he also expects for advertisers to play with dynamic creative and video lengths that are customized to users depending on how much content they typically watch on their phone.
And as Apple, Facebook and Snapchat invest in augmented reality, expect for 5G to open up more detailed AR experiences for marketers to experiment with, said Malmad.
“In a world of 5G, you aren’t going to be constrained by [bandwidth]—you can showcase whatever you like and have a rich, deep experience, so I do believe that augmented reality will benefit greatly from 5G,” he said.
Malmad said that 5G will also make it easier for marketers to target ads to connected cars, particularly once autonomous driving becomes more mainstream. For example, self-driving cars are expected to free up people’s time and attention so that they can watch TV or stream programs, meaning that automakers may build screens into seats.
No wonder telecoms are forcing municipalities to install 5G towers, whether or not communities want them, with the help of the Republican FCC chairman, Ajit Pai.
Come Rain Come Shine
The NYT reported a few months ago:
The future of cellular service is coming to a neighborhood near you.
But who gets to decide when, where and how it gets delivered is still a heated fight.
The new technology, known as 5G, delivers wireless internet at far faster speeds than existing cellular connections. But it also requires different hardware to deliver the signals.
Instead of relying on large towers placed far apart, the new signals will come from smaller equipment placed an average of 500 feet apart in neighborhoods and business districts. Much of the equipment will be on streetlights or utility poles, often accompanied by containers the size of refrigerators on the ground. More than 300,000 cell stations now provide wireless connections, and 5G will bring hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — more.
The prospect of their installation has many communities and their officials, from Woodbury, N.Y., to Olympia, Wash., insisting that local governments control the placement and look of the new equipment. They say that the cell stations could clutter neighborhoods with eyesores and cost the communities a lot of potential revenue. “Residents across the country are just now beginning to understand the harms that hasty and insensitive small cell deployments can inflict on their communities,” said Jim Baller, the president of Baller Stokes & Lide, a law firm in Washington that represents municipalities on communications issues.
But telecommunications companies — hoping to cash in on what is predicted to be $250 billion in annual service revenue from 5G by 2025 — are pushing to build the system as quickly and cheaply as possible. And they have the federal government on their side.
Some states have preemptively stopped municipalities from having a say in the matter, or in receiving fees for these 5G poles:
And the F.C.C., under the leadership of Ajit Pai, its Republican chairman, has strongly encouraged weakening regulations to accelerate the deployment of new 5G technology — including reducing the role of local governments.
Texas cities can’t negotiate rates. Last year, the State Legislature passed a law pushed by AT&T that allows cities to charge carriers no more than $250 per pole each year. Before the law, cities often charged $1,500 to $2,500 a year per pole, and the change will cost Texas cities as much as $1 billion over eight years, the Texas Municipal League estimated.
A group of Texas cities led by the city of McAllen, near the Mexico border, filed a lawsuit last year against the state, arguing that the new cell-site law violated the state Constitution, which prohibits the Legislature from forcing cities to grant something of value to corporations.
Geoff Duncan of TidBITS wrote a fascinating, depressing article about Net Neutrality:
As anticipated, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted late last year to scrap net neutrality regulations that required ISPs and telecommunications companies to treat all traffic equally (see “FCC to End Net Neutrality,” 28 November 2017), However, the battle for net neutrality is still raging in the United States, with many individual states both suing the federal government over the new regulatory framework and moving ahead with their own state-specific net neutrality legislation. Washington State — home to high-tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft — is the first out the door with new net neutrality laws.
Do these strategies stand a chance? Don’t federal regulations pre-empt state authority? Or are these lawsuits and state regulations essentially stall tactics, hoping to muddy the waters long enough for a possible shift in the balance of Congress or perhaps even a new presidential administration?
Huh. Well, at first blush, this seems like good news…
High-speed internet service can be defined as a utility, a federal court has ruled, a decision clearing the way for more rigorous policing of broadband providers and greater protections for web users.
The decision from a three-judge panel at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday comes in a case about rules applying to a doctrine known as net neutrality, which prohibit broadband companies from blocking or slowing the delivery of internet content to consumers.
Those rules, created by the Federal Communications Commission in early 2015, started a huge legal battle as cable, telecom and wireless internet providers sued to overturn regulations that they said went far beyond the F.C.C.’s authority and would hurt their businesses.
The court’s decision upholds the F.C.C. on the declaration of broadband as a utility, the most significant aspect of the rules. That has broad-reaching implications for web and telecommunications companies and signals a shift in the government’s view of broadband as a service that should be equally accessible to all Americans, rather than a luxury that does not need close government supervision.
While everyone was on vacation, or thinking about vacation, the FCC quietly (re)proposed some anti-consumer changes to local media rules that will reduce the diversity of news for most of the country. Fox News already got a special exception in New York City, now the FCC wants this model to expand elsewhere. The corporate lackeys at the FCC tried this once before, in 2007, remember?
The Federal Communications Commission is preparing to relax a longstanding rule that limits the ability of companies to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same local market.
The proposal, which was challenged in court the last time it came up, was the most contentious piece of an updating of the nation’s media ownership rules. Congress requires the F.C.C. to review the rules every four years.
Public interest groups and a departing member of the commission, Michael J. Copps, expressed concerns that the newspaper-broadcast rule change could cause more consolidation in the media industry, in which round after round of stations have been sold to bigger companies.
“In the vast majority of cases, I do not believe that newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership advances the public interest,” Mr. Copps, a Democrat, said in a statement. “It means fewer voices in the community, less localism in the industry and steep transactional costs that all too often lead to down-sized or shuttered newsrooms and fired journalists. Our media, and our public policy, need to head in a different direction.”
The proposed rules would keep in place the loosening of the ban on cross-ownership proposed by former Chairman Kevin Martin, allowing companies to own both a newspaper and TV station in the top 20 markets. The proposal would essentially codify newspaper-TV combos held by companies such as Tribune and News Corp. The FCC is proposing no change to the current TV duopoly rules, which permit companies to own only two stations in a market as long as both stations are among the top four, or the radio ownership rules.
Public interest groups, which have challenged loosening the ban on cross ownership in court came out swinging. “It appears that the FCC is proposing to adopt the same loophole-ridden scheme that the Bush Administration FCC had tried to push through. The public understands that excessive concentration of media ownership is bad for democracy, so we expect to convince the FCC to take a stronger position in the end,” said Andy Schwartzman, svp, Media Access Project.
Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:
“The FCC must be having a Yogi Berra moment, because it’s déjà vu all over again on the failed policies of the previous administration. Those policies were resoundingly rejected by the public, Congress and the courts. The FCC should focus on remedying the mistakes of past administrations — not repeating them.
“This action not only flies in the face of promises made by the president on the campaign trail but will also make it much harder for local and diverse owners to secure a piece of the public airwaves. Instead, the already dwindling number of smaller and independent media owners will be swallowed up by the same media giants that have crushed local journalism, killed local radio and left us with the same cookie-cutter content from coast to coast.
“Especially appalling is the FCC’s failure — once again — to meaningfully address the issue of ownership diversity. A federal court has twice rebuked the FCC for failing to consider rules that would increase ownership opportunities for women and people of color, yet today’s item punts on the issue yet again. The evidence shows that media consolidation hinders opportunities for women and people of color to create and sustain broadcast businesses. If the FCC is serious about addressing the diversity problem, it needs to tighten its rules, not relax them.
“However, we do commend the FCC for raising the important issue of covert consolidation. The FCC must address the proliferation of secret deals to combine local newsroom operations in violation of the agency’s rules. Some broadcasters now control two, three or even four stations in one market, giving a handful of companies extraordinary influence over local debates, issues and news. Now is the time for the FCC to close the legal loopholes and rein in these so-called shared services agreements. Otherwise broadcasters will continue to undermine competition, destroy news diversity and cut jobs in local communities.
“Fortunately, the rules proposed today are not final. The FCC can still reverse course, reject the disastrous approach of its predecessors and refocus on policies that will benefit the public instead of just boosting the bottom line of a few giant media conglomerates.”
Television stations make a ton of money, and if this change goes through, in five years, most cities in America will have just one newspaper that parrots the corporate behemoth that owns it. Sort of like what already exists, but with fewer parent companies, and thus less diversity of opinion. And then in twenty more years, the corporate media giants will merge, and most people will get all of their news from Rupert Murdoch’s cloned head…
Both verb and noun, infix and interjection, “fuck,” like many chimerical beasts, is of ill repute and unknown genesis. The American Heritage Dictionary, similar to its tweedier brother, the Oxford English Dictionary, is unable to divine the exact etymology of “fuck,” however it does provide information about its first known publication. Specifically, the word initially appeared in a satirical poem composed sometime around 1500 that takes aim at the Carmelite friars of Cambridge. Although the letters F, U, C, and K do not appear in their recognizable, rancorous order, they are expressed in a simple code that “is easily broken by simply substituting the preceding letter in the alphabet, keeping in mind differences in the alphabet and in spelling between then and now,” according to the dictionary. Drained of its cryptic Latin and less cryptic cryptology, “non sunt in coeli, quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk” begets “they are not in heaven because they fuck wives of Ely [a town near Cambridge].” For what it’s worth, the Online Dictionary of Etymology surmises that “fuck” has roots in the Middle English “fyke,” meaning to “move restlessly.” “Fyke” had sexual connotations, too; it suggested fidgeting as well as flirting, as the wives of Ely might attest.
Hundreds of years later, James Joyce was not as covert in his use of the word. The 1921 publication of the complete Ulysses was met with book banning and book burning. A New York court ruled the work obscene, even though the word “fuck” appeared just twice—once as noun, once as verb—in 265,000 words. Other classics infamous for their embrace of the word include The Catcher in the Rye and Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Norman Mailer substituted “fug” for “fuck” in The Naked and the Dead, from which the band the Fugs would later take its name. (One of the group’s founding members, Tuli Kupferberg, passed away yesterday.) “Fug,” a cacophonous cousin, is still an undeserving member of the vernacular. Alternative progeny also include “fink,” “freak,” “feck,” “frack,” and “frig,” the latter regretfully embalmed for pop-culture immortality with the 2004 film Napoleon Dynamite. The Wire eschewed euphemisms altogether, embracing the guttural, satisfying “fuck” a total of 38 times in a single scene.
Like Steve Earle sang, Fuck the FCC. Aren’t we modern enough not to worry what words are excitedly uttered over the airwaves? If the FCC wants to regulate filth, why is Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck still on the air? If the American Christian Taliban weren’t so powerful, this wouldn’t even be worthy of discussion.
A United States appeals court tossed out the indecency policy of the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday, calling it a violation of the First Amendment.
An appeals panel said the F.C.C. policy was “unconstitutionally vague, creating a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here.”
The ruling was immediately characterized as a victory for big broadcasters like ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, which have been fighting the indecency policy for years.
Tuesday’s ruling vacates a 2004 decision by the Bush administration F.C.C. to step up enforcement of the indecency policy on the broadcast airwaves. Earlier that year, the singer Janet Jackson’s breast was bared during the Super Bowl halftime show on CBS, reigniting a decades-old debate about broadcast standards.
But Tuesday’s ruling deals more specifically with the F.C.C. policy toward so-called fleeting expletives. After several curse words were uttered during awards shows in 2002 and 2003, the F.C.C. concluded that a single use of an expletive “could be actionably indecent,” triggering fines against broadcasters.
Two F.C.C. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Julius Genachowski, the F.C.C. chairman, will announce Thursday that the commission considers broadband service a sort of hybrid between an information service and a utility and that it has sufficient power to regulate Internet traffic under existing law.
The F.C.C. decision is likely to be seen as a victory for content companies like Amazon.com and Google, the owner of YouTube, which do not want Internet service providers to have the power to charge them for access to customers or for faster download speeds.
The phone and cable companies that provide Internet service have said they have no plans to do so, but that could change.
I wouldn’t be surprised if a telecom corporation decided to step up their plans to charge Google or similar heavy consumers of bandwidth extra. Why not test it out before the FCC says they cannot do so? Plus once such a tiered setup exists, there would be some inertia against changing it.
On Thursday, Mr. Genachowski is expected to assert that the agency, under its powers to regulate phone service, is permitted to require broadband service providers to follow certain transmission guidelines, including safeguarding privacy, not discriminating against certain types of content providers, offering service to rural customers at the same rate as urban customers and providing access to people with disabilities.
His decision would appear to have the backing of some important lawmakers.
On Wednesday Representative Henry A. Waxman and Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the chairmen of the House and Senate committees that oversee the F.C.C. wrote to him saying, “it is essential for the commission to have oversight over these aspects of broadband policy” and that they were prepared to consider legislation to provide it. The F.C.C. apparently will not seek to enforce the vast authority it has over telephone utilities in which it can regulate rates.
Consumer groups hailed the F.C.C.’s intentions after word of Mr. Genachowski’s planned announcement leaked Wednesday.
Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, which promotes open Internet policies, called it “a welcome announcement” that would help protect consumers and expand broadband access and adoption in the United States.
Even after the F.C.C. lays out its authority, there are still potential speed bumps in carrying out its policy. The five-member commission must vote on the approach, which will be put out for public comment and revision before final rules are set. The process could take months and may be subject to legal challenges.
Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake and the infamous Nipple That Destroyed America
[click to embiggen, iffen ya dare]
Thank the pasta lords, now I can sleep at night without worrying that a giant nipple is going to destroy America. I have no sympathy for the dingleberries who own/run CBS, but the FCC is even less sympathetic a beast,
In a decision that clears CBS of any wrongdoing for airing the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show that featured Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction,” a federal appeals court overturned the $550,000 fine that the Federal Communications Commission levied against the station, calling the fine arbitrary and capricious.
The decision was handed down early Monday by a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that the fine was unfair because the commission, in imposing it, deliberately strayed from its practice of exempting fleeting indecency in broadcast programming from punishment. The commission also erred, the judges ruled, by holding CBS responsible for the actions of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, who were characterized by the judges as “independent contractors hired for the limited purposed of the Halftime Show.”
and because the FCC acted in poor faith, deciding which incidents were worth going after.
The court, in its ruling, said the FCC would have had a stronger case against CBS had the performance been pre-recorded. But because it was aired live, and there was no solid evidence that CBS had advance knowledge that Timberlake was going to tear at Jackson’s bustier, the station did not appear to have acted recklessly by broadcasting the show.
In fact, the court said, CBS had implemented an audio delay and other measures to help censor any unexpected profanity, and numerous “script reviews” and “wardrobe checks” before the show did not reveal any problems.
“CBS rejected other potentially-controversial performers who had previously engaged in offensive on-air conduct in favor of Jackson and Timberlake, with the NFL ultimately approving the selections,” the court wrote. “Timberlake in particular, CBS asserts, had on several prior occasions performed ‘Rock Your Body’ live on national television without incident.”
Any student of American language and culture should have a moment of silence for the passing of one of the greats, George Carlin.
George Carlin, the Grammy-Award winning standup comedian and actor who was hailed for his irreverent social commentary, poignant observations of the absurdities of everyday life and language, and groundbreaking routines like “Seven Words You Can Never Use on Television,” died in Los Angeles on Sunday, according to his publicist, Jeff Abraham. He was 71.
The cause of death was heart failure, according to Mr. Abraham.
In 1970, Mr. Carlin discarded his suit, tie, and clean-cut image as well as the relatively conventional material that had catapulted him to the top. Mr. Carlin reinvented himself, emerging with a beard, long hair, jeans and a routine that, according to one critic, was steeped in “drugs and bawdy language.” There was an immediate backlash. The Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas terminated his three-year contract, and, months later, he was advised to leave town when an angry mob threatened him at the Lake Geneva Playboy Club. Afterward, he temporarily abandoned the nightclub circuit and began appearing at coffee houses, folk clubs and colleges where he found a younger, hipper audience that was more attuned to both his new image and his material.
By 1972, when he released his second album, ”FM & AM,” his star was again on the rise. The album, which won a Grammy Award as best comedy recording, combined older material on the “AM” side with bolder, more acerbic routines on the “FM” side. Among the more controversial cuts was a routine euphemistically entitled “Shoot,” in which Mr. Carlin explored the etymology and common usage of the popular idiom for excrement. The bit was part of the comic’s longer routine “Seven Words That Can Never Be Said on Television,” which appeared on his third album “Class Clown,” also released in 1972.
“There are some words you can say part of the time. Most of the time ‘ass’ is all right on television,” Mr. Carlin noted in his introduction to the then controversial monologue. “You can say, well, ‘You’ve made a perfect ass of yourself tonight.’ You can use ass in a religious sense, if you happen to be the redeemer riding into town on one — perfectly all right.”
The material seems innocuous by today’s standards, but it caused an uproar when broadcast on the New York radio station WBAI in the early seventies. The station was censured and fined by the FCC. And in 1978, their ruling was supported by the Supreme Court, which Time magazine reported, “upheld an FCC ban on ’offensive material’ during hours when children are in the audience.” Mr. Carlin, refused to drop the bit and was arrested several times after reciting it on stage.
Irony Alert1 : Fox News was instrumental in placing George Bush and his faux-Christian moralism in power, and thus Republican Christian Taliban warriors were placed at the FCC. Now, the public scolds at the FCC have been set loose to bring shame upon the often sleazy Fox Network. Ha.
Fox Television said it won’t pay its part of a $91,000 indecency fine levied recently by the Federal Communications Commission for a 2003 episode of a reality TV show that featured strippers and whipped cream.
Fox said in a statement that it won’t pay the fine imposed against five of its stations because it believes the FCC’s decision that the show in question was indecent was “arbitrary and capricious, inconsistent with precedent, and patently unconstitutional.” The network said it will appeal the FCC’s decision and proposed fine on behalf of 13 stations — Fox’s own, several stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group and some owned by other smaller broadcasters — that were targeted by the agency for airing the show.
Although the fine isn’t very large, Fox’s decision to oppose the agency suggests that the major broadcast networks including ABC and CBS aren’t backing down from their fight against the FCC’s indecency enforcement, which has been more aggressive since President Bush took office and resulted in more and larger fines. FCC officials have said the fines are appropriate and they’re responding to an increased number of complaints about coarseness on the airwaves.
“We believe in enforcing indecency standards, especially when children are watching,” said Mary Diamond, an FCC spokeswoman.
Fox’s decision to challenge the FCC’s fine comes just a week after the agency scored a victory when the Supreme Court announced it will take up a challenge of the agency’s indecency authority this fall. It’s the first time in 30 years that the nation’s highest court has waded into the contentious issue of broadcast indecency enforcement. In that case, Fox and other broadcasters argued that the FCC’s new policy on fining broadcasters for airing “fleeting expletives,” or the inadvertent or unscripted airing of a profanity, was inconsistent with previous decisions and violated free-speech principles.
Fox’s decision Monday to fight the FCC’s latest fine didn’t involve dirty words, but when and how it’s appropriate to show sexual activity.
Last month, the FCC decided to fine Fox for an April 2003 episode of the short-lived reality show “Married by America.” A pile of complaints have backed up at the agency, which often takes a few years to settle cases. The episode featured scenes of contestants licking whipped cream off strippers whose body parts had been digitally obscured. The FCC originally proposed fining every station that aired the show $7,000 — which would have amounted to a $1.1 million fine — but backed down and decided to fine only 13 stations that had actual complaints lodged against them. In the past, broadcasters believed that digitally obscuring parts of performers’ bodies or bleeping out dirty words would protect them from FCC fines.
His Royal Highness, Bushy, of course. There aren’t many government officials who can keep their jobs when they are unpopular with the Congress, with the citizenry, and with the industry being regulated.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission is set to ram through two measures likely to roil the media and telecommunications industries and deepen political dissatisfaction with the agency’s chairman.
Kevin Martin, a 41-year-old Republican, has already drawn heavy criticism with his determination to pass a rule making it easier for media companies to own both newspapers and television stations in the top 20 markets. The five-member commission is expected to pass that rule and another saying that no single cable company can serve more than 30% of the nation’s cable subscribers. [snip] In a highly partisan capital, Mr. Martin is unusual in that he is coming under attack by members of both parties and several industries. The cable restriction, for instance, has stoked the anger of an industry that expected an orthodox laissez-faire Republican as chairman, only to find an aggressive regulator. [From Industry Seethes as FCC Sets Curbs]
Mr. Martin’s only government experience seems to be his work on the Shrub’s 2000 Presidential Campaign, and on Kenneth Star’s impeachment theater.
Mr. Martin worked as a telecommunications lawyer in private practice and briefly assisted independent counsel Kenneth Starr in 1997 during the Whitewater probe. Later, he left Washington for Austin, Texas, joining then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s presidential campaign. Mr. Martin’s wife, Cathie, whom he met at Harvard Law School, also worked on the campaign.
In 2001, the newly elected Mr. Bush appointed Mr. Martin as an FCC commissioner. His wife worked for Vice President Dick Cheney for several years before moving to the White House’s communications office.
Despite what Amy Schatz asserts in the article, there aren’t many consumer groups who think Mr. Martin’s tenure is worth celebration. There might be some consumer groups who are members of the Christian-Taliban who celebrate Martin’s quest to “clean the smut out of the airways”, and protect our precious ears from dangerous words like fuck and shit, but these consumer groups don’t have the support of most of the nation. The only group who would praise Mr. Martin on the record is Consumer Union’s Gene Kimmelman, for some reason:
Consumer groups are among those who offer kind words for Mr. Martin. “He’s been as accessible as any chairman in the past 25 years to consumer interests. He’s reached out for input,” says Gene Kimmelman, vice president for federal and international affairs at Consumers Union.
Is indecency on cable really what is important?
Soon Mr. Martin’s concerns about indecency on television began to steer him into conflict with the cable and broadcast-TV industries. His staff proposed record fines against broadcast networks for showing racy programming. Mr. Martin suggested that the FCC should fine broadcasters for each instance of a profanity used during a show, instead of just one fine per broadcast.
Mr. Martin pushed for a fine in cases of inadvertent broadcast of profanities, such as an incident involving U2 singer Bono during a live broadcast of the Golden Globes awards. This summer, a federal appeals court sided with the broadcasters and tossed out the agency’s decision.
Mr. Martin has suggested that indecency laws should apply to cable programming, prompting an outcry about free speech. Profit-spinning cable shows such as “The Sopranos” and “Real Sex” on HBO are rich in profanity and sexual images.
Note that Mr. Martin doesn’t have much support:
Intense lobbying in Congress, the FCC and the White House paid off, as a stream of lawmakers began calling the FCC and sending letters decrying Mr. Martin’s plan. Internally, several FCC commissioners complained about the data Mr. Martin’s staff relied on in the report. Ultimately, Mr. Martin was forced to drop his proposal.
“Because we didn’t agree to [a-la-carte pricing] early in his tenure, I believe, and I believe the evidence is overwhelming, that he embarked on a punitive regulatory regime on the industry,” says Mr. McSlarrow, the cable association president. He says private enterprise is “more likely to get it right than someone who’s never been in the business world.”
The media-ownership rules up for a vote today have also sparked a backlash, this time in Congress as legislators complain Mr. Martin is rushing the issue onto the agenda. Yesterday, a bipartisan group of 25 senators warned in a letter to Mr. Martin that they will pursue legislation to block his plan if the FCC adopts it today.
On Friday, former and current Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Barack Obama threatened to block FCC funding to implement the new media-ownership rules. Veteran Michigan congressman John Dingell, head of the House committee that oversees the FCC, said he is “rapidly losing confidence” and recently opened a broad investigation into Mr. Martin’s management of the agency.
Seems only the White House is Mr. Martin’s supporter. Remind you of anyone? (Digg-enabled full access to the complete article here)
John Nichols of the Nation writes:
The Federal Communications Commission has, as expected, voted along party lines to approve the demand of Rupert Murdoch and other communications-industry moguls for a loosening of limits on media monopolies in American cities.
Now, the real fight begins.
There was never any doubt that FCC chair Kevin Martin, a Bush-Cheney administration appointee and acolyte, would lead the two other Republican members of the commission to a 3-2 endorsement of a move to begin dismantling the historic “newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership” ban which has long served as the only barrier to the buying by one powerful individual or corporation of newspapers, television and radio stations and other media outlets in a community. [Click to read more FCC Votes for Monopoly, Congress Must Vote for Democracy]