COVID-19 gives the FCC a platform to leverage educational programming

Months before COVID-19, the FCC voted to loosen broadcasters’ obligations to carry core “educational and informative” content across their networks. The National Association of Broadcasters thanked the FCC profusely, touting that obligations to carry “low-rated children’s programming” would have serious economic consequences when stations were already dealing with shrinking profits.

Little did they realize that in just a matter of months, schools across the country would morph into remote learning modalities, placing television and public airwaves in the role of providing educational content for many American families.

FCC commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks practically prophesized the grave risks of relaxing FCC children’s programming rules when they issued their dissenting statements back in July of 2019. Both commissioners championed the value of quality educational programming in a rapidly changing media landscape, where the digital divide was becoming more pervasive every day. Starks even went so far as to say that the FCC actually “has clear statutory authority to require broadcasters to limit commercialization on children’s television and ensure that programming is specifically made to serve children’s age-appropriate educational needs.”

It was only eight months later that COVID-19 pulled back the curtain even further, and public television shows stepped in to take action. Elmo began hosting virtual playdates, and Daniel Tiger produced a new COVID-19 special helping kids and families understand feelings of uncertainty and how to get through these disappointing times. Public media partnered with school districts across the nation, and for the first time in history, research-based, educational content was simulcast across multiple networks—public and private—including replays and streaming. Kids and families had equal access to relevant programming on multiple platforms, wherever they were, whenever they could watch, and without corporate concern for advertising dollars or ratings.

As a content creator and advocate for children’s and family programming, I

U.S. Supreme Court will consider FCC effort to loosen media ownership rules

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court said on Friday it will take up a long-running legal dispute over whether the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can loosen U.S. media ownership rules.

A lower court has thwarted the FCC’s efforts to revise the rules since 2003 in a series of decisions.

In 2017, the Republican-led FCC voted to eliminate a ban in place since 1975 on cross-ownership of a newspaper and TV station in a major market. It also voted to make it easier for media companies to buy additional TV stations in the same market, for local stations to jointly sell advertising time and for companies to buy additional radio stations in some markets.

The FCC said in 2003 “that the ownership rules should be substantially overhauled because they inhibit beneficial combinations between struggling traditional outlets and no longer reflect current market realities.”

The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year directed the FCC to take up the issue again, finding that the regulatory agency “did not adequately consider the effect its sweeping rule changes will have on ownership of broadcast media by women and racial minorities.”

FCC General Counsel Tom Johnson wrote on Twitter on Friday that the Supreme Court’s agreeing to hear the case “is great news for struggling local news outlets and American consumers.”

The National Association of Broadcasters industry group said the 3rd Circuit “has blocked common-sense changes to outdated broadcast ownership regulations to the detriment of local journalism. The time has come to allow the FCC to modernize its rules.”

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, a Democrat, said that court “was right” that the commission “has repeatedly failed to consider the effect of its ownership rulings on women and minorities, which has impeded greater broadcast diversity.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing

Supreme Court will consider FCC effort to loosen media ownership rules

FILE PHOTO: General view of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington
FILE PHOTO: General view of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court said on Friday it will take up a long-running legal dispute over whether the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can loosen U.S. media ownership rules.

A lower court has thwarted the FCC’s efforts to revise the rules since 2003 in a series of decisions.

In 2017, the Republican-led FCC voted to eliminate a ban in place since 1975 on cross-ownership of a newspaper and TV station in a major market. It also voted to make it easier for media companies to buy additional TV stations in the same market, for local stations to jointly sell advertising time and for companies to buy additional radio stations in some markets.

The FCC said in 2003 “that the ownership rules should be substantially overhauled because they inhibit beneficial combinations between struggling traditional outlets and no longer reflect current market realities.”

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The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year directed the FCC to take up the issue again, finding that the regulatory agency “did not adequately consider the effect its sweeping rule changes will have on ownership of broadcast media by women and racial minorities.”

FCC General Counsel Tom Johnson wrote on Twitter on Friday that the Supreme Court’s agreeing to hear the case “is great news for struggling local news outlets and American consumers.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Will Dunham)

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FCC Nixes Cable’s Programming Financial Interest Reporting Rule

WASHINGTON—The FCC is eliminating the requirement that cable operators maintain records in their online public inspection files related to their interests in video programming services and information regarding their carriage of these services on cable systems they own.

The FCC adopted these rules 25 years ago in an effort to police compliance with channel occupancy limits on programming where cable operators had a financial interest, the commission says. In 2001, the D.C. Circuit ended those limits and remanded them back to the FCC, which has determined no need to establish new limits.

“Given that these requirements no longer serve their intended purpose and the information covered by the rule can be obtained from sources other than public inspection files, the commission voted to remove this unnecessary and outdated regulatory burden on cable operators,” the FCC said in its announcement.

The decision came ahead of the FCC’s Sept. 30 open meeting, where the rule was on the docket. It has been removed from the agenda as a result.

According to TVT’s sister publication Multichannel News, cable operators have been split on the need for these requirements. ACA Connects has argued for the requirements to stay in place as enforcement for program access rules, while NCTA—The Internet & Television Association claimed that ACAC’s stance was self-serving, as the information is easily available.

This is the latest example of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s for media regulation modernization efforts—the 24th, according to the FCC.

Recently, departing FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly shared a blog post where he stresses the importance of modernizing media regulations for broadcast and cable operators.

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Energous Receives FCC Approval, Extending Charging Zone to Up to 1 Meter for Groundbreaking Over-the-Air, Power-at-a-Distance Wireless Charging

Class II permissive change allows for expansion of Energous’ new, non-beamforming wireless charging technology announced earlier this year

Today Energous Corporation (Nasdaq: WATT), the developer of WattUp®, a revolutionary wireless charging 2.0 technology, announced that it has received a Class II permissive change to the existing MS-550 FCC Grant, extending the charging zone up to one meter. This change, under the FCC’s Part 18 rules, allows Energous and its partners to develop and market wireless charging products that may be charged within one meter of the transmitter. It is believed to be the first time that a non-beamforming transmitter has been permitted under the FCC’s rules with a charging zone of up to one meter under the FCC’s Part 18 guidelines.

“We continue to make advances that will enable over-the air, wireless charging at-a-distance to become a reality. This permissive change from the FCC substantially expands the allowable non-beamforming footprint and broadens the wireless power transfer (WPT) applications that can be supported by this patent-pending technology. While beamforming remains a key Energous technology, having pioneered the industry’s first FCC part 18 certification, non-beamforming technology represents a less costly, less complicated path to commercialization which is being well received by our customers interested in implementing distance charging solutions,” said Stephen R. Rizzone, president and CEO of Energous Corporation. “As Energous continues to set in place the building blocks required to enable a global wireless power 2.0 solution, the ongoing pandemic has temporarily impacted our ability to put the necessary engineering and application resources on customer sites, slowing the advance of multiple product and sales cycles expected to generate revenues for the third quarter. Interest in WattUp technology remains very strong, but pandemic-related delays have had a meaningful impact causing third quarter revenues to fall significantly on a percentage basis below revenues