Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, January 22, 2010

FCC Announces Agenda For Media Ownership Workshop Jan. 27, 2010

From the FCC



The Media Bureau today announced the agenda for its January 27, 2010 media ownership workshop being held from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Commission meeting room.  Comprised of two panels, the forum will focus on how the FCC’s media ownership rules affect minority and female ownership and is part of the FCC’s 2010 quadrennial review process.



A   G   E   N   D   A


    9:00 a.m. Welcome and Introductory Remarks


9:15 a.m. Constitutional Issues in Advancing Minority Ownership Through the FCC’s Media Ownership Rules

    Jacob Lewis, Moderator and Acting Deputy General Counsel, Federal          Communications Commission

    Leonard Baynes, Professor of Law and Inaugural Director of the Center for          Civil Rights and Economic Development, St. John’s School of Law

    Carolyn Byerly, Associate Professor, Howard University

    Angela Campbell, Professor of Law and Director of the Institute for Public        Representation, Georgetown University

    Allen Hammond, Professor of Law, Santa Clara University

        LaVonda Reed-Huff, Associate Professor of Law, Syracuse University


10:45 a.m.    Break


11:00 a.m.    How the FCC’s Media Ownership Rules Affect Minority and Female Ownership

    Thomas Reed, Moderator and Director, Office of Communications Business            Opportunities, Federal Communications Commission

    Michael Roberts, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Roberts Broadcasting           Companies

    Sylvia Strobel, Interim President, American Women in Radio and Television

    David Honig, Executive Director, Minority Media and Telecommunications


    Faith Bautista, Executive Director, Mabuhay Alliance





    12:30 p.m.   Adjournment


    The forum will be open to the public.  Audio/video coverage will be broadcast live over the Internet from the FCC Live web page at  Questions can be submitted in person or via email to throughout the course of the workshop. 


    Open captioning will be provided.  Other reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request.  Include a description of the accommodation you will need.  Also include a way we can contact you if we need more information.  Last-minute

requests will be accepted, but may not be possible to fill.  Send an e-mail to or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (tty).


    For further information, contact Krista Witanowski, Media Bureau (202) 418-2449. 

January 22, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Broadband Services in the Market

Thomas W. Hazlette, George Mason University School of Law and Dennis Weisman, Kansas State University Department of Economics, have published "Market Power in U.S. Broadband Services," as George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 09-69. Here is the abstract.

The U.S. telecommunications industry has come under scrutiny amid concerns that regulatory policies have been too permissive. These concerns are perhaps most prominent in the residential broadband market where there is a perception that the “duopoly” between telephone carriers (DSL suppliers) and cable TV operators (cable modem services) has given rise to anti-competitive behavior. The presence of market power is a testable hypothesis that cannot be deduced solely from market shares or price-cost margins. We develop an economic analysis that incorporates both static and dynamic factors to examine the extant marketplace evidence. The data suggest that “duopoly” broadband providers do not generate supra-competitive returns. Public policies to regulate broadband providers should be informed by these market conditions.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

January 22, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

FCC Proposes Revisions To Telephone Consumer Protection Act Regs

Released by the FCC today:

The FCC has proposed revisions to its rules under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to further empower residential telephone subscribers to avoid unwanted telephone solicitations.  The proposals would require sellers and telemarketers to obtain written consent from recipients before making prerecorded telemarketing calls, commonly referred to as “robocalls,” even when the caller has an established business relationship with the consumer.  Additionally, the FCC proposes to make it easier to opt out of receiving robocalls. 


These new restrictions would harmonize the FCC’s rules with the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) recent amendments to its Telemarketing Sales Rule.  Because the majority of entities that use prerecorded telemarketing calls are subject to both agencies’ telemarketing regulations, most regulated entities must comply with the FTC’s current, more restrictive standards.  However, entities outside the FTC’s jurisdiction, such as telephone companies, airlines, banks, and insurance companies, are currently subject to less restrictive standards. 


    Key revisions proposed by the FCC today include:


1.   Requiring sellers and telemarketers to obtain telephone subscribers’ express written consent (including electronic methods of consent) to receive prerecorded telemarketing calls, even when there exists an established business relationship between  the caller and the consumer;

2.   Requiring that prerecorded telemarketing calls include an automated, interactive mechanism by which a consumer may “opt out” of receiving future prerecorded messages from a seller or telemarketer; and,

3.   Exempting certain federally regulated healthcare-related calls from the general prohibition on prerecorded telemarketing calls to residential telephone lines. (These calls are currently not specifically exempted from the prerecorded message rules.)


    The Commission asked for comments on whether these proposed revisions would benefit consumers and industry by creating greater symmetry between the FCC and FTC regulations and by extending the FTC’s standards to regulated entities that are not currently subject to FTC rules.

Commissioners Copps, Clyburn, Baker, and McDowell, and FCC Chair Genachowski released statements.


January 21, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NBC, Conan O'Brien Disagree Over Staff Severance, IP Issues

NBC and Conan O'Brien have apparently suspended their negotiations over payments to Mr. O'Brien's staff. The Tonight Show host wants more severance pay for his staff, which followed him from New York to L.A. when he took on the show. NBC takes the position that "[I]t was Conan's decision to leave NBC that resulted in nearly 200 of his staffers being out of work. We have already agreed to pay millions of dollars to compensate every one of them. This latest posturing is nothing more than a PR ploy." The two sides have reportedly not yet come to an agreement on rights to some of Mr. O'Brien's comedy bits, including the popular "Triumph the Insult Comic Dog" character. Read more here.

January 20, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Amazon Revamps Kindle Royalties Program

Amazon is restructuring its Kindle royalty program to make it more attractive to authors and publishers. Previously, authors received a little over $3 per title selling at $8.99; now they'll get $6.25. The new program launches in June. Read more here.

January 20, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Jack Straw Proposes Radical Cuts In Attorney Fees To Help Libel Law Overhaul

The British government proposes to cut libel lawyer fees 90 percent to help reforms. Read more here in a Guardian article.

January 20, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Fox v. the FCC: An Editorial From the Times


January 20, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Presto! Back To Work

The New York Times on the Cleveland Orchestra strike and other classical music labor troubles.

January 20, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Beaver Bites Back

Professor Bill Kovarik writes about a takedown order from a Canadian agency aimed at a Danish website that apparently published a hoax created by the comedy troupe Yes Men. The group made fun of Canada's environmental position and Environment Canada took offense. Here's more from the Yes Men's site.

You might remember the Yes Men from their U.S. Chamber of Commerce spoof last fall.

January 19, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Government Rights in Government Marks

Malla Pollack has published "Governmental Marks: What Souvenirs Say About Speech and Sovereignty." Here is the abstract.

“Governmental marks” are words or phrases which involve the identity of a social group that is partly defined in terms of its citizenship in a government-institution. The power to name a social group (especially one from which exit is difficult) confers enormous power over the group’s members. Legally classifying such words as trademarks commodifies them, increasing the namer’s power: both by giving the word monetary value and by providing the mark-holder with the legal right to prevent others from manipulating the word’s meaning.

Destination marketing employing governmental marks has become ubiquitous. The municipal governments of both New York City and Las Vegas used the courts to prevent local businesses from selling unlicensed souvenirs decorated with trademarks referring to their respective cities. The courts treated these disputes as no different from litigation over shoe-brands; even if the courts had classified the disputed marks as governmental, they could have ruled for the plaintiffs by invoking the doctrine of government speech.

This article argues against allowing mark-rights in governmental marks. It weaves together marketing literature, examples of recent marketing campaigns by various public-appearing entities, concepts from trademark law, free speech literature, and critiques of government accountability to illuminate the conceptual slippages demonstrated by these cases and by current marketing practices. First, most governmental marks lack a basic requirement for trademark-status; such marks generally do not signify one unique source. Furthermore, even if commercial practice led a substantial percentage of the public to perceive a unique source, legal recognition of such a source is incompatible with liberal, representative government. Additionally, the current practices in which governmental marks are embedded are counter-productive because they decrease citizen-control of government.


Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

January 19, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 18, 2010

PCC On Complaint Against Daily Mirror By Member of Parliament: No Breach

The Press Complaints Commission has ruled that the Daily Mirror reported accurately on Tory Member of Parliament Daniel Hannon's remarks concerning U.S. President Obama and reaction to them. Mr. Hannon had complained about the Mirror's characterization of his statements, saying they were a "gross distortion of his position" and that they violated the editors' code of practice.

The PCC has investigated and has ruled that

Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code of Practice makes clear that newspapers are entitled to be partisan. Editors may select and present material for publication accordingly.

The Commission first considered the complaint about how Mr Hannan's comments on people's views of President Obama's ethnicity had been reported. Given the delicate subject matter, and the fact that the remarks were open to some interpretation, the Commission was satisfied that the newspaper's reporting in this instance was well within the range of political partisanship permitted by the Code of Practice.

The reference to the complainant's admiration for Enoch Powell was arguably slightly misleading, as the context of his regard for Powell - which was not to do with immigration - was unclear. However, the Commission considered that the proposal to publish a letter from the complainant was a suitable response to this part of the complaint. It would have allowed him to clarify both the nature of his comments about Enoch Powell and his views on those who criticise President Obama.

Read the entire adjudication here.

January 18, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)