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Archive for July, 2010

Boucher and Stearns introduce Voluntary Incentive Auctions Act

Friday, July 30th, 2010

From Press Release

Yesterday, July 29th, U.S. Representatives Rick Boucher (D-VA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, and Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, introduced the Voluntary Incentive Auctions Act of 2010. The legislation will help ensure that new spectrum can be made available for commercial wireless services by permitting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct incentive-based spectrum auctions in which a spectrum holder voluntarily relinquishes its spectrum in return for a portion of the auction proceeds. “Each year, millions of users graduate from basic cell phones to smart phones that employ a range of data services requiring far greater bandwidth than traditional cell phones. At the same time, smart phone applications are becoming more elaborate. The combination is placing unprecedented demands on our limited wireless spectrum availability. To meet these growing demands, the FCC’s National Broadband Plan calls for making 500 MHz of spectrum newly available for broadband use within the next 10 years. That is a worthy goal, and one that our legislation will assist in achieving,” Boucher said. “We are facing a looming spectrum crisis. It’s very clear that the U.S. will need additional spectrum to meet the growing demand for wireless broadband. Wireless providers have used spectrum to provide U.S. consumers with innovative voice and data services. The number of mobile broadband customers has increased exponentially over the past several years. As customers increase the amount of time they spend on their mobile devices talking, emailing, and surfing the Internet, cell sites become constrained for capacity. In order to remain the world’s leader in innovation, we need to make more spectrum available,” Stearns said. The National Broadband Plan also suggests that the Federal Communications Commission initiate a rulemaking to reallocate some spectrum currently in the hands of television stations from television broadcast to wireless broadband use. The Plan suggests that the Commission, among other things, determine rules for auctioning broadcast spectrum reclaimed through voluntary channel sharing or channel surrender, including a way for stations to receive a share of the proceeds for spectrum they contribute to the auction. The National Broadband Plan’s recommendation concerning incentive-based auctions, with broadcasters sharing in the proceeds from the auction of spectrum they voluntarily return to the Federal Communications Commission, requires legislation. Boucher and Stearns today are introducing the requisite legislative measure. Under the legislation, only in instances in which television broadcasters or other spectrum holders willingly enter into agreements with the FCC for the surrender of their spectrum in return for a portion of the auction revenues would the transaction be deemed to be voluntary. And “truly voluntary” means neither directly nor constructively involuntary. “Our goal is to ensure that any incentive auctions the Federal Communications Commission conducts are truly voluntary,” Boucher noted. “The Voluntary Incentive Auctions Act takes the right approach to incentive-based spectrum auctions—enter into conversations with broadcasters and others about surrendering a portion of their spectrum on a voluntary basis, determine rules for incentive-based auctions that are truly voluntary and conduct the auctions in accordance with the agreement,” Boucher said. “The Voluntary Incentive Auctions Act of 2010 is a positive step toward this goal. It is important to stress that any incentive auctions conducted by the FCC are truly voluntary. No spectrum licensee, whether a broadcaster or wireless provider, should be forced to give up the spectrum they currently hold,” Stearns concluded.

Congressman Stearns

Congressman Boucher

DISCLOSE Act won’t come to vote in Senate

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

From RadioInk.com

July 27, 2010: The DISCLOSE campaign-finance bill has fallen short in the Senate, with a vote of 57-41 against cloture, or ending debate and allowing the bill itself to come to a vote. No Republicans signed on to support the controversial bill, which added substantial disclaimer requirements to campaign advertising, including requirements that an organization’s top five donors appear in TV ads.

The House earlier passed its own version of the bill, which would also have changed campaign laws for certain corporations and interest groups, in some cases blocking campaign spending entirely. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) made some changes in the Senate version of the bill, exempting radio from some disclosure requirements that could have taken a disproportionate amount of airtime.

Cloture requires 60 votes, and the vote Tuesday was 57-41, with two senators absent and no Republican voting in favor. Democratic leaders say they may bring the bill up again, but they would need at least one Republican to vote with them in order to bring the bill itself to a vote.

The bill was created in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which struck down some provisions of the earlier McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill.

Monday, July 26th, 2010

From RadioInk.com

July 23, 2010: Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has filed a new version of the controversial campaign-finance reform bill known as the DISCLOSE Act, removing several provisions and amendments that were in the version passed by the house, the Hill reports.

Among the changes Schumer made was to modify a provision that require businesses and groups to state their geographic locations in disclaimers. TV ads would still be required to include the information on screen, but because of the time needed to voice the long disclaimers, radio would be exempted.

Additionally, Schumer took out a provision negotiated with unions that exempted down from disclosing fund transfers to, from, or among affiliates of $50,000 or more, and removed an amendment that would have barred certain oil and gas companies from spending money on political advertising, but he broadened a requirement forcing all groups to disclose funds transfers.

The changes were made in hopes of attracting some Republican support for the bill, particularly focusing on Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. The DISCLOSE Act was introduce in the hope of offsetting some effects of a Supreme Court decision that struck down some parts of the earlier McCain-Feingold campaign-finance bill.

MBA awards 2010 scholarships

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Medford, MA – The Massachusetts Broadcasters Association is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2010-2011 Student Broadcaster Scholarships.  Awarded annually in the amount of $2,000, the scholarships are given to students pursuing a career in over-the-air broadcasting and are enrolled in a broadcast program at a two or four-year accredited school. This year, five Bay State residents were selected from over 100 applicants.  Winners were chosen based on financial need, academic achievement, extracurricular and community involvement and an essay about their interest in broadcasting. 

The following recipients and their families were part of a brief presentation at WCVB TV on July 20th. WCVB Vice President of Programming, Liz Cheng handed out scholarships to two-time scholarship winner Jason Audette of Rehoboth, MA, attending the New England School of Communication, Laura Knapik from Northbridge attending Bridgewater State College and Charles Haddad of Brockton, a student at Suffolk University.

From L-R: MBA Executive Director Jordan Walton, scholarship winners Jason Audette, Laura Knapik, Anthony Howard and WCVB-TV VP and Director of Programming Liz Cheng

Receiving their awards at WWLP TV in Springfield, MA on July 22nd from MBA Vice-Chair of Television and WWLP TV General Manager Bill Pepin were Aaron Carr from Athol, attending Penn State University and two-time scholarship winner Evan Charles Valenti, a student at Syracuse University from Dalton, MA.

From L-R: scholarship winner Aaron Carr, MBA Vice-Chair of TV and WWLP-TV GM Bill Pepin, winner Evan Valenti and MBA Executive Director Jordan Walton

For the second year, an additional scholarship fund was given in memory of the late Al Sprague, former president of the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association. Awarded in the amount of $2,500, this scholarship was presented to Anthony Howard of Taunton, a senior at Emerson College.

The Massachusetts Broadcasters Association (MBA) is the only voluntary, statewide trade organization serving the Bay State’s over-the-air radio and television stations. The Association’s key responsibilities include assisting its members with general and broadcast-specific business challenges and assisting in the networking of fellow broadcasters. The MBA aims to promote broadcasting as a viable and exciting career choice by offering annual scholarships and maintaining an online database of available jobs for individuals searching for a career in radio or television, as well as the opportunity to post a resume online. Please visit www.massbroadcasters.org for more information.

Broadcasters seek conditions on spectrum auction

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

From Reuters.com

July 20 (Reuters) – U.S. broadcasters told the Obama administration they might sign on to the government’s voluntary program to reallocate their highly-prized airwaves to wireless companies, as long as certain conditions are met.

The National Association of Broadcasters sent a letter to the White House on Monday to lay down conditions to protect broadcasters, in a sign that progress is being made on a plan to refocus spectrum use.

Broadcasters, fearing the program could come with harsher regulations, sought assurances that the government would not limit their signal strength or slap them with more fees.

The Obama administration and the Federal Communications Commission have urged broadcasters to voluntarily give up a swath of airwaves in exchange for proceeds from auctions.

The program is aimed at helping wireless companies deal with a looming spectrum crunch as more consumers turn to mobile devices to surf the Web.

The spectrum reallocation plan is part of the FCC’s larger National Broadband Plan, which seeks to give more Americans access to high-speed Internet and wireless services.

AT&T Inc (T.N), Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, the U.S. unit of Deutsche Telekom AG (DTEGn.DE) are among wireless companies seeking more spectrum. Verizon Wireless is a venture between Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L).

NAB represents 7,500 local radio and TV stations including the big networks CBS Corp (CBS.N), Walt Disney Co’s (DIS.N) ABC, News Corp’s (NWSA.O) Fox, and NBC, which is majority-owned by General Electric Co (GE.N).

“Our goal is simple: to work collaboratively on a two-track strategy that accomplishes the administration’s goals without compromising America’s robust and reliable digital television service that remains free, local and ubiquitous,” NAB President Gordon Smith wrote in a letter to National Economic Council Director Larry Summers.

In the letter Smith said he wants to ensure that broadcasters not interested in the voluntary program will not be subject to signal strength limitations or onerous new taxes for using current spectrum.

He added that broadcasters should also have the ability to provide viewers with mobile digital television programming.

The NAB letter comes as two senators introduced legislation that would give the FCC and the Commerce Department the authority to auction off spectrum and give some of the proceeds back to the license holders.

The FCC needs Congress to give it new authority before it can move forward with this type of auction.

In a move to prod broadcasters to relinquish some spectrum, the bill also includes a provision that would allow the FCC to assess an annual fee for spectrum holders.

The FCC regulates commercial spectrum and the Commerce Department oversees spectrum used by government agencies. Both are examining how spectrum is being utilized.

“We can and should know how our spectrum is being used and do more to encourage more efficient and productive use,” said Democratic Senator John Kerry, who along with Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, offered a spectrum reform bill.

There is no companion legislation in the House of Representatives. (Reporting by John Poirier; Editing by Richard Chang)

Senator Kerry introduces spectrum reform.

Monday, July 19th, 2010

From Kerry press release.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) today introduced the Spectrum Measurement and Policy Reform Act, comprehensive spectrum reform legislation to modernize the nation’s radio spectrum planning, management, and coordination activities.

“This legislation will lay the groundwork to develop a strong and effective 21st century comprehensive spectrum policy that will provide consumers with additional choices, greater innovation, lower prices and more reliable services,” said Senator Snowe. “Our nation’s competitiveness, economic growth, and national security demand that we allocate the necessary attention to current policy shortcomings, and enactment of this vital legislation will help avert the looming spectrum crisis and allow us to continue to enjoy the boundless benefits of spectrum-based services.”

“Our nation’s airwaves are finite resources, and we need to use them as efficiently as possible,” Senator Kerry said. “This analysis will help us empower innovation, encourage competition, and lower prices for emerging technologies nationwide. Steps like this are essential to expanding broadband internet access while providing a platform where entrepreneurs can create new services and generate jobs. We can and should know how our spectrum is being used and do more to encourage more efficient and productive use.  We look forward to working with the Administration and the communications community to move forward with this important legislation.”

Senators Snowe and Kerry, senior members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and longtime champions of spectrum reform, designed the bipartisan measure to complement the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) National Broadband Plan in promoting more efficient use of spectrum and ensuring that the proper framework is in place to meet the future telecommunications needs of the nation.  Specifically, the Spectrum Measurement and Policy Reform Act tasks the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to perform much needed spectrum measurements to determine actual usage and occupancy rates.  This data will assist policymakers and the public in making informed decisions about future spectrum uses.  In addition, the bill requires greater collaboration between the FCC and NTIA on spectrum policy and management related issues, implementation of spectrum sharing and reuse programs, as well as more market-based incentives to promote efficient spectrum use; and, sets a deadline for the creation of the National Strategic Spectrum Plan, which will provide a long-term vision for domestic spectrum use and strategies to meet those needs.

LocalBroadcastSales.com for week of 7/19

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Kick off your weekly sales meeting with 10-minutes of training from LocalBroadcastSales.com.  Here are some ideas for this week:

Remember the Customer

1) Link Features to Outcomes – Sales Communications with David Topus

http://www.localbroadcastsales.com/pages/articles-items/9.-sales-communications-link-features-to-outcomes189.php?p=6&g=24

2) Recognizing Your Customer’s Style – Selling by Personality with Gary Moore

http://www.localbroadcastsales.com/pages/articles-items/3.-selling-by-personality-style-recognizing-your-customer-s-style136.php?g=23

3) Focus on the Listener – Radio Copywriting with Dan O’Day

http://www.localbroadcastsales.com/pages/articles-items/8.-focus-on-the-listener227.php?p=6&g=76

And don’t forget about tomorrow’s webinar at 1PM:

Broadcasters Online: A Legal Guide to the Cyber-Jungle with David Oxenford

Learn more at:  http://www.localbroadcastsales.com/pages/v2webinarleft.php?targetfun=whatsnextbro

Email jordan@massbroadcasters.org for your LBS access code and remember that all webinars are archived by close of business on the day they air.

Wall Street reform bill passes in Senate

Friday, July 16th, 2010

From the NAB

By a vote of 60 to 39, the Senate today passed H.R. 4173, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, a Wall Street reform bill which has some implications for broadcasters.  During the debate over this legislation, broadcasters were successful in modifying language in the bill that could have been used to hold a broadcaster liable for engaging in an unfair, deceptive or abusive act or practice because it carried an advertisement for a product or service that was found to violate the new law. Language included in the bill that passed today contains two changes that help guard against charging broadcasters for a violation.

1)    The first change clarifies that the media is not a service provider to someone who violates the law solely because it offers a person or entity time or space for an advertisement for a consumer financial product or service through print, newspaper or electronic media, and

2)   The second protection gives the media an exemption, clarifying that the media will not be held in violation solely because it provided or sold time or space to a person or entity placing an advertisement.

Conversely, if the media were found to “knowingly or recklessly provide substantial assistance” to another person or entity, though the chances are remote, the media could potentially be held in violation of the law. Broadcasters were successful in narrowing the scope of the bill to apply only to financial services advertisements.

Clear Channel selling Springfield AM

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

From RBR.com

Clear Channel just filed to give away four AM stations to a noncommercial entity. In this deal, a noncom figures once again, but this time, the station recipient will be paying for a Clear Channel AM spin-off. The station is WNNZ-AM, serving Westfield MA from its city of license of Westfield MA.
The buyer is the WFCR Fountation Inc., headed by Marc Berman. The Foundation is associated with the University of Massachusetts.

The price is $525K, which will be paid in cash with $52.5K being plunked down into an escrow account. According to the contract, the parties will enter into an LMA prior to closing. They will also apply to relicense the station for noncommercial operation.

In its other recent dealings with the non-profit world, Clear Channel donated four AMs in four different locations to the Media Minority and Telecommunications Council for use in training female and minority citizens for careers in the broadcasting field.

Senator Brown opposes DISCLOSE Act

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

From scottbrown.senate.gov


WASHINGTON, DC – On July 14th,  U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) sent the following letter to the five organizations that recently urged him to support the DISCLOSE Act, the campaign finance bill which recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives:

Dear Members of the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Democracy 21, League of Women Voters, and Public Citizen:

Thank you for your letter in which you urge me to support the DISCLOSE Act.  As stated in your letter, my election to the U.S. Senate sent a message that the American people are tired of the politics-as-usual mentality, and want to restore real checks and balances in Washington.  Unfortunately, the DISCLOSE Act does not do enough to require transparency, accountability and fair play. Therefore, I cannot support the DISCLOSE Act.

Rather than reform our campaign finance laws and provide increased transparency, the DISCLOSE Act advances the political agenda of the majority party and special interests in an effort to gain a tactical and political advantage little more than 100 days before an election.  No matter how one feels about McCain-Feingold, at least that was an honest attempt to reform campaign finance laws that would not have gone into effect until after the next election cycle.  The DISCLOSE Act does the opposite – it changes the rules in the middle of the game to provide a tactical advantage to the majority party.

Even more astonishing, this bill does not treat all organizations equally and does not apply to everyone.  For example, not all the disclosure requirements apply to labor unions and other special interest groups – despite these groups being among the most active political organizations.  Labor unions and their political action committees spent more than $450 million to help their allies in 2008, and they have already pledged to spend upwards of $100 million in the midterms.  Yet they would be carved out of this legislation and not face the same regulations that would apply to everyone else.

A genuine campaign finance reform effort would include increased transparency, accountability and would provide a level playing field to everyone.

Furthermore, this bill is being pushed when our country has almost double digit unemployment.  We must return our focus to job creation.

I understand that your five groups support this legislation, and I respect your opinion, but more than 450 other groups from across the political spectrum – ranging from such ideological opposites as the National Right to Life Committee and the ACLU – oppose this bill. They recognize that it is based on partisan politics instead of sound policy.  I could not agree more.  When dealing with rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, we should look to adopt a higher standard than the one in this bill.  The American people expect and deserve better.

Respectfully,

U.S. Senator Scott Brown

U.S. Senator Scott Brown