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Television Communications Government Network The Almighty Buck United States

FCC Ends Decades-Old Rule Designed To Keep TV, Radio Under Local Control (variety.com) 223

The FCC on Tuesday voted to eliminate a rule that required broadcast station groups to maintain a physical presence in the community of their primary local coverage area, a move that critics say will help media companies further consolidate their operations and even be a boost to the ambitions of Sinclair Broadcast Group. Variety reports: But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the elimination of the rule has been a long time coming and will produce cost savings for stations. He said the "overwhelming majority" of public input favored the elimination of the rule, citing the support for such an action even from National Public Radio. "Continuing to require a main studio would detract from, rather than promote, a broadcaster's ability and incentive to keep people informed and serve the public interest," Pai said. The National Association of Broadcasters supports the rule's elimination, and has argued that it will free up funds for stations to spend on staff and programming. Commissioner Michael O'Rielly said the elimination reflects how the public currently interacts with local businesses -- not by visiting their facilities, but through telecommunications and social media. The rule dates to 1940. The two Democrats on the commission opposed the change. "There are many broadcasters who do an extraordinary job serving communities during disaster," said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. "But let's be honest -- they can only do so when they have a real presence in their area of license. That's not a retrograde notion -- it's a fact."
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FCC Ends Decades-Old Rule Designed To Keep TV, Radio Under Local Control

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  • An alarmist view (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dutchmaan ( 442553 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @07:49PM (#55427339) Homepage
    This is all about consolidation of our media to a more "centralized" structure. You know the precursor to the state run that we always point to about OTHER countries that lack our "freedoms" This administration is openly hostile to free press, so any move they make will be filtered through that lens.
    • by youngone ( 975102 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @07:56PM (#55427369)
      Except in the US it won't be State run media, because why would it be?
      Corporate interests already run the US government for their own benefit, why would they allow the state to take over?
      • Corporate interests already run the US government for their own benefit, why would they allow the state to take over?

        Because the broadcasters that won't play ball are going to be first up against the wall when the revolution comes. And by revolution I mean the same old shit coming around again.

      • Except in the US it won't be State run media, because why would it be? Corporate interests already run the US government for their own benefit, why would they allow the state to take over?

        I fail to see the difference.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @10:07PM (#55427743)

          The difference is libertarian idiots scream loudly whenever the government might tell them what to do, and are stunningly silent when a corporation has that same power or worse.

          • by Vermonter ( 2683811 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @05:53AM (#55428761)

            I didn't know there were companies in the US that had the power to imprison a person for not complying with them. Please enlighten me as to what companies have the same coercive power as a government (or, as you put it, "worse").

            Curiously, would you want to try to sue a corporation if you had to go through a special court owned and operated by said corporation? I'm guessing not. Yet if we sue the government, we are using a court system that is run under the same institution. Personally, I would rather not consolidate all the interested that could potentially act against me.

            It always amuses me when people distrust the people who run corporations while at the same time trust the people who run governments, as if the two are run by completely different kinds of people.

            • by link-error ( 143838 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @06:47AM (#55428901)

              The punishment for sharing a video can be worse than killing somebody.

                  That's directly from the media companies.

                 

              • The punishment for sharing a video can be worse than killing somebody.

                You make it sound so heartless. I have it on good authority that this imbalance will change once people are overtly the product. Then, the situation will reflect the good and fair society you expect.

              • No, that's the government acting on behalf of the media companies. So, yes, it is a problem when companies can buy laws to entrench their business methods. From what I can tell, Libertarian philosophy agrees with that and seeks to reduce/distribute the power of government so that it can't be abused like that as easily.

            • Voters have direct control over who is their Government. The only way to exercise that same control over the corporations is to have lots of money and buy the result you want. Corporations are more dangerous, because we have less control over them.
              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward

                If I as a voter have direct control over who is my government how did Obama ever become president? Or Trump for that matter?
                The fact is that individuals have very little control over who is their government.
                At least I can buy shares to a publicly owned company. If I can buy enough shares I have control of that company.
                Now you might not think that's fair, but I read somewhere that life is not fair.
                At least no corporation can send jack boot thugs into my home on its own and I have some chance that I can sue t

                • Talk to small business people that have to deal with BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC for music royalties or have been audited by BSA for software license compatibility before you think that private organizations don't hire jack booted thugs to come to your front door.

              • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

                > Voters have direct control over who is their Government. The only way to exercise that same control over the corporations is to have lots of money and buy the result you want. Corporations are more dangerous, because we have less control over them.

                That's funny?

                Are you a Trump supporter? If you aren't, then why are you posting this obviously absurd nonsense?

                At least in the market, I can find an alternative. There is no "alternative government". You're stuck with which ever one the morons that don't agre

            • I didn't know there were companies in the US that had the power to imprison a person for not complying with them.

              Happy to google it for you... first link clicked [washingtonpost.com] says

              On its website, CCA states that the company doesn’t lobby on policies that affect “the basis for or duration of an individual’s incarceration or detention.” Still, several reports have documented instances when private-prison companies have indirectly supported policies that put more Americans and immigrants behind bars – such as California’s three-strikes rule and Arizona’s highly controversial anti-illegal immigration law – by donating to politicians who support them, attending meetings with officials who back them, and lobbying for funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Showing just how important these policies are to the private prison industry, both GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America have warned shareholders that changes in these policies would hurt their bottom lines.

              !!

            • It always amuses me when people distrust the people who run corporations while at the same time trust the people who run governments, as if the two are run by completely different kinds of people.

              It always amuses me when people distrust the people who run government while at the same time trust the people who run corporations, as if the two are run by completely different kinds of people. You will trust someone who operates from a pure profit instead of someone who MIGHT have the common good in mind, why?

            • "Curiously, would you want to try to sue a corporation if you had to go through a special court owned and operated by said corporation? I'm guessing not. Yet if we sue the government, we are using a court system that is run under the same institution. Personally, I would rather not consolidate all the interested that could potentially act against me."

              Funny, that's EXACTLY what we have. See Mandatory Binding Arbitration. And yes, people don't trust it, because there isn't even the pretense of due process, yo

          • by guruevi ( 827432 )

            The corporations only take the freedom and money you allow them to take. If you donâ(TM)t let them, they will die.

            The government takes your freedom and money at gunpoint.

      • If the corporations and the State are in bed with each other, then what's the difference?
        Are you going to wait until there is precisely ONE corporation running all the AM and FM radio stations in the country before you wake up and see there's a problem?
      • Corporate interests don't run the government; an incompetent party which believes taking money from the consumer and letting it trickle back down runs the government. The GOP genuinely believes they're doing great work for the American people.

        Let that sink in.

        Clearly, we could do better [johnmoserforcongress.com] than the GOP tax plan; yet they believe it's the best. Does that not frighten a man to contemplate?

        I wanted to run because I want to pull the Democratic party back to a path of sanity--back to something like FDR showed

    • Bad subject (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @08:07PM (#55427417)

      I don't think it's right to call yourself "alarmist". I mean, whether it's state-run or just run directly by the corporations who control the politicians, it's definitely a move to centralize control in a few people's hands. That's just obvious.

      The very least we can do is call this "realistic", "forward looking" or "awake". To call it "alarmist" is to undercut how certain the outcome is.

    • You mean corporate monopolies. Oh wait, you're right, corporations are our governments now...

  • time to reel in the catch
  • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @07:52PM (#55427349)

    When was the last time you watched/listened to broadcast?

    The kids?

    Broadcast is already dead, it's just zombie media for now, same as dead tree.

    The RF spectrum still has value.

    • by TimSSG ( 1068536 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @07:56PM (#55427371)
      Yesterday, and get off my lawn. Tim S.

      When was the last time you watched/listened to broadcast?

      The kids?

      Broadcast is already dead, it's just zombie media for now, same as dead tree.

      The RF spectrum still has value.

      • Yes.

        Free-ish (and much fragmented) news outlets meddling with your belief set is still preferable than a mere handful of sources.

        On the fence? Consider, then, US; your two-party democracy.

        • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

          by HornWumpus ( 783565 )

          Ship has sailed. Broadcasters are 100% echo chambers.

          Multiple independent sources are important, but you won't find that on broadcast today or any time in the last 50 years.

          Strong crypto is our only hope at this point.

          • There remains some value in the diversity of the news reports you're using to glean an opinion from, as long as you understand each viewpoint has an agenda behind it.
            • Sure, but how many 'standard D party line' outlets are required? We've got CNN, makes ABC, CBS and NBC redundant. We've got MSNBC, makes NPR redundant.

              Maybe if economics forced them to have some diversity of opinion, but for now, they can die and nothing will be lost.

        • Yes.

          Free-ish (and much fragmented) news outlets meddling with your belief set is still preferable than a mere handful of sources.

          On the fence? Consider, then, US; your two-party democracy.

          In my area, there are only two corporations and a third group running every station. The third group is pseudo-non-profit religion outfits. You can tune across the band, and many of the stations are playing the exact same thing - pre recorded pop country, or pre recorded Pop Pop. On AM, it's crypto-conservatives and their conspiracy theories and fomenting revolution or just whining. I still listen to sports new, but that is becoming more advertisement than content.

          "He's dead Jim." Making it possible for

    • When was the last time you watched/listened to broadcast?

      The kids?

      Broadcast is already dead, it's just zombie media for now, same as dead tree.

      The RF spectrum still has value.

      Medium wave is virtually useless for anything we would think about using it for today. Short propagation during the day, and worldwide at night. Noisy as hell during the spring summer and fall as lightning strikes throw spikes all over the band.

    • Yesterday, on the local channel that caries NPR and BBC. They still carry interesting interviews and, when they can, relevant news. I'm quite impressed with them and regularly put in a small contribution, though under a name and with credentials that protect me from the deluge of fundraising requests.

    • When was the last time you watched/listened to broadcast?

      The kids?

      Broadcast is already dead, it's just zombie media for now, same as dead tree.

      The RF spectrum still has value.

      Antenna business is booming and an increasing number of people (myself included) are discovering how amazing broadcast TV is post ATSC and cable company price hikes.

    • For radio, just about every day.

    • Yesterday, and nearly every day before that. Lots of cord cutters in the same crowd.

      I have 22 channels to choose from, and they keep adding more. I can go the internet at will, but the local news is on at the time I expect. Why stream that when I can buffer something else instead?

    • When was the last time you watched/listened to broadcast?

      Last and every time I have to visit my baby boomer parents, with the volume turned up so loud I have to sit in a different room to not have it be painful.

    • > When was the last time you watched/listened to broadcast?

      Yesterday

      > same as dead tree.

      You mean the same dead trees that are springing up as free dailies? Or the supposedly dead print books that are experiencing a resurgence?

      I'd still rather have the option of listening to some local news rather than getting info from multinational conglomerates or paid Russian Facebook posts.

  • by dfn5 ( 524972 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @07:56PM (#55427367) Journal
    ... welcome our regulation free media overlords.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @07:57PM (#55427373)

    fuck that fucking fucker.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You are correct, but there must be more emphasis on what a cunt this cunt really is.

      I am truly upset and a bit teary. Mock me all you want.

  • by modmans2ndcoming ( 929661 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @08:06PM (#55427415)
    They are the US broadcast equivalent of Silvio Berlusconi's broadcast companies.
  • Oh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by XSportSeeker ( 4641865 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @08:30PM (#55427495)

    Color me surprised, yet another move from Ajit Pai against societies' best interest and for corporations and conglomerates to fill their pockets. Wow, who would've thought.
    And of course it comes right after a huge string of natural disasters that killed people all around and destroyed property everywhere, where the role of local media played an important role on informing people of what's happening.
    I'm sure nothing bad will come out of it, such as local broadcasting stations being sold left and right, closing doors and abandoning the communities they had a presence and important role as source of information. Nonono.

    • Could be an opportunity for communities to stand together and buy their local stations keep them out of the influence of corporate control permanently....?
      Money where our mouths are, etc...

  • by sandbagger ( 654585 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @08:33PM (#55427509)

    ...against these grand experiments.

    The USA got rid of the fairness doctrine that required standards in news gathering and broadcasting and look at the result. Now you'll have gated access to the internet so that news becomes even more corporatized and with no local coverage, you could have hurricanes ripping up the district before the studio a time zone or two away decides to see if they can get someone with a cell phone to do a live hit.

    Great.

    Your electorate will be less informed than ever.

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      Why should the electorate be informed? That would make it harder to get unqualified people elected. Such as why education funding keeps getting cut.

    • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

      It all started with Fox News winning cases for being an "entertainment" company as opposed to a news organization. It's pretty much all gone downhill from there.

  • What's "radio"? Is it that thing in my car that plays commercials when I turn it on?
    • It's the integral component to your cell phone, wi-fi, and your garage door opener. You really should know this unless you want to start running wires to all those things.
  • by eclectro ( 227083 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @08:37PM (#55427523)

    As a conservative, I think this decision is a horrid one that is made more out of ideology rather than good government. It follows from the incorrect conclusion that because companies can merge to form larger conglomerations, why can't radio stations do so too?

    Even though the FCC voted for this, ultimately the buck stops with congress and they are the ones that need to be held accountable. With republicans who don't understand the dangers, or with the Democrats who are so impotent because they are burdened down with social agendas to the point everybody who does not live on the east/west coast won't vote for them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It honestly does not make one bit of difference. They are already consolidated. They have been for years. NPR is just as bad. NPR is where I discovered this banana.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

      • It honestly does not make one bit of difference. They are already consolidated. They have been for years. NPR is just as bad. NPR is where I discovered this banana.

        Those links sums it up and destroys just about every argument posted so far.

        • 1-Corporations wouldn't be pushing for a rule change if they didn't think they could cut costs or increase income sufficient to pay for the effort several times over. 2-Government doesn't lift a finger unless pushed.
    • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @09:24PM (#55427649)

      As a conservative, I think this decision is a horrid one that is made more out of ideology rather than good government.

      Well, that's what passes for conservatism these days, Corporatism. There is money to be made on the way down.

      With republicans who don't understand the dangers, or with the Democrats who are so impotent because they are burdened down with social agendas to the point everybody who does not live on the east/west coast won't vote for them.

      Well then, we get corporatism, and let me know how that works out for the people who live in the middle. And you are wrong about Republicans in office not knowing the dangers. They do not give a flying fsck about the dangers. There's a lot of money to be made, so get out of the way.

      As long as they can get some poor sod to vote for them, they line their pockets with money from the corporations that they actually work for. They do not even hide that any more. If Joe six Pack will vote for people who are going to give themselves big tax breaks, and throw millions of them off of a admittedly flawed healthcare system with no replacement, and can do it by reusing the same old tropes, then those people do deserve to lose their money, and go bankrupt if they have a big healthcare bill. Good for them. Because that's what they voted for, and must be exactly what they want to happen to them.

      But seriously, Modern Republicans aren't conservatives, they are corporatists. There is a huge difference. I wish Barry Goldwater would ressurect from the grave and drive the corrupt out of the temple.

      • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

        This is what I've been saying for a while. The Repulican party hasn't been "Republican" for quite some time. It's now become some sort of far right wing corporatists/neo-fascist group hell bent and bending the nation over for their own profit.

        Seriously, can you imagine someone like Reagan being in the RINO party today? Do you think Reagan would support a man shaped turd like Trump? There's no way. There are maybe a handful of true Republicans left in congress, and they're under full attack by their own part

    • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @09:58PM (#55427725)

      With republicans who don't understand the dangers, or with the Democrats who are so impotent because they are burdened down with social agendas to the point everybody who does not live on the east/west coast won't vote for them.

      Holy false equivalence Batman. "Blame both of them, those horrible conman who got the job by offering to work for less than going rates, and the good employees who didn't underbid them"

      Or, more accurately, I blame conservatives. Those who are so horrified about some social agenda that they keep voting for the asshole who enable this in Congress.

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      Noticing a pattern here? Why is there no middle?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Fallen Kell ( 165468 )
      It is also the great contradiction that calls itself the GOP. They are all for local government, because local knows the issues better than the national government, but local business doesn't know better than national conglomerates...

      They are for keeping the government out of their homes, except they want it in their bedrooms and bathrooms checking the right people use the right toilet and sleep with the right sex.

      They want prayer in school, as long as it is not some other religion's prayer.

      They want les
    • Agreed. A Jit Pie is a corporatist through and through, which will only serve to make capitalism look bad, and convince impressionable millennials that socialism or even communism is better. Capitalism works the best, but only when it's tempered and balanced by a modicum of gov't oversight and regulation to prevent monopolies from forming or conspiracies/collusion from occuring. The tricky thing is where to draw the very fine line with the regulation: it's easy to do too little, and just as easy to do t

  • This sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @08:40PM (#55427525)

    Part of the social contract for being able to use precious spectrum exclusively (spectrum is considered a public resource) is to provide a public service. That service is inherently local by the nature of radio propagation. Removing the local requirement just turns stations into glorified corporate repeaters providing no service to the communities whose spectrum they occupy.

    This is yet another violation of the public commons by amoral corporate douchebags, same as endless copyrights.

  • Pandora (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @08:44PM (#55427533) Journal

    That's interesting, because just a couple days ago I noticed a small town near here with their own low-power radio station. When it gave station identification it was Pandora Media (I think the "Media" part was right) and it didn't have a human DJ - it was a male synthesized voice. With this ruling I think we'll see this sort of thing pop up everywhere - small low-power FM stations serving small areas that are 100% automated. That will be profitable because the FCC won't require staff in person at the stations.

  • Where it's at (Score:2, Informative)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

    Here's what this story is really about: The Sinclair Broadcast Group.

    https://www.salon.com/2017/10/... [salon.com]

  • He said the "overwhelming majority" of public input favored the elimination of the rule, ...

    I imagine that "public input" doesn't necessarily mean "the public".

  • iHeartMedia radio stations can finally close down the NAPA studios, the McDonald's Weather Center and the Dunham Sports Desk since they were such money pits and were so outdated.

    At least they'll recoup their huge losses over the decades by Selling the Kohl's Traffic Copter since the Ford Fusion Traffic Report is no more.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @09:23PM (#55427645) Journal

    If they'd just eliminate the rule that a single entity can't own broadcast stations in enough markets to have a potential audience of more than about a third of the population, it would be possible to buy up cheap or failing little UHF stations and create new networks.

    THAT rule is essentially anti-competitive anti-upstart protection for the old networks, which are primarily contracted programming services for a collection of separately-owned stations and groups of stations. It's why you don't see a lot of new network upstarts, and things like CNN and Fox News only/initially happened on cable - despite a vast underserved viewership.

    (In CNN's case it was people who wanted actual news reporting, after the major networks' news organizations decided the viewers really wanted news-like entertainment. In Fox News' case it was people who wanted to hear conservative viewpoints (conspicuous by their absence on mainstream media) once CNN had sold out to the left-leaning mainstream - first figuratively, then literally. There's been room for a new one since the lead-in to the 2012 presidential election, when Fox News went all-in for the neocon faction of the R side, abandoning the libertarian, paleo-conservatve, religious-right, and perhaps a few smaller, factions.)

    Such an effort doesn't need to be restricted to just the rich, by the way. Imagine crowd-funded news networks. B-)

  • Expense of physical infrastructure is already considerable compared to some AWS compute instances for Internet radio, who can afford payroll for every local station that people only listen to in the car? This way broadcast radio can be at least supported for a while longer. What we need is a good automated emergency broadcast system that authorities can use to provide information during natural disasters.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @11:45PM (#55428017)
    you need to take care of your working class. Otherwise folks like Trump will continue to take advantage of their desperation to get stuff like this through. Everytime a tech worker looked down on a blue collar guy for not 'updating' their skills you're playing right into the hands of the folks that made this happen. Congrats.
  • I for one welcome our new oligarchy overlords.

    (this post paid for Citizens for Oligarchy Council, Inc)

  • "The problem with the corporation is that they have neither souls to damn nor necks to hang"
    Allegedly Benjamin Franklin.
  • it will free up funds for stations to spend on staff and programming.

    You misspelled "owners", "hookers", and "blow".

  • Firing all the local staff and eliminating programming will free up funds for stations to spend on staff and programming as long as you ignore the part where they no longer need to do so and won't ever spend that money that way.

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