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Sinclair Agrees To Buy Bonten Media After FCC Eases TV Station Mergers

Sinclair Broadcast Group was poised to act yesterday after the FCC cleared the way for some TV station mergers by restoring the so-called UHF discount. The broadcaster announced this morning a two-part deal valued at $240.0 million. Sinclair picked up Bonten Media Group Holdings, which owns 14 television stations in 8 markets. In addition, Cunningham Broadcasting — controlled by trusts for the children of Sinclair founder Julian Smith — will pick up the membership… Read

Business

FCC Revives Rule That Could Make It Easier For TV Station Groups To Merge

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made good today on his vow to reinstate a rule that makes it easier for big TV station owners to grow bigger. In a 2-to-1 party line vote, the regulatory agency revived the so-called UHF discount. It enables station owners to just count half of the viewers reached by UHF stations in the calculation to determine when they hit the ceiling that limits them to reaching 39% of all households. In August, the FCC, under former Chairman Tom Wheeler, voted to… Read

Business

Brillstein Boss Jon Liebman & Ex-FCC Chair Tom Wheeler Join National Archives Foundation Board

Tom Wheeler Jon Liebman

Former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and Brillstein Entertainment Partners chairman and CEO Jon Liebman have been elected to the board of directors at the National Archives Foundation, the nonprofit partner of the federal National Archives and Records Administration. Wheeler, a former foundation board member, exited as head of the FCC in January as part of the shift to the new Trump Administration. Liebman oversees the management and production businesses at Brillstein, and is… Read

Business

FCC Approves Time Warner TV Station Sale, Likely Helping AT&T Deal

The FCC probably will be able to avoid making a judgment on AT&T’s $85 billion agreement to buy Time Warner following its approval today of the entertainment giant’s deal to sell its single TV station — Atlanta’s WPCH — to Meredith Corp. for $70 million. Regulators noted that the application to transfer the license was “granted” but made no additional comment. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has said that if AT&T’s deal with Time Warner doesn’t involve a broadcast license, then… Read

Business

T-Mobile, Dish Network, And Comcast Won Spectrum In FCC Auction

T-Mobile, Dish Network, Comcast, and US Cellular are among the biggest winners of spectrum from the government auction of airwaves currently being used by broadcasters, the FCC said today in a report that officially wraps up the sale process. “There are three big surprises here,” says MoffettNathanson Research’s Craig Moffett. “Comcast bought less than expected, Dish Network bought more, and Verizon bought nothing at all.” T-Mobile spent $8.0 billion followed by Dish… Read

Business

Internet Companies Tell FCC They’re United Against Net Neutrality Rule Change

Internet companies are arming for a “bloody, high profile battle” to protect current net neutrality rules, Cowen and Co.’s Paul Gallant says, based on notes made public today from a meeting that company representatives had yesterday with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. The ex parte filing from the Internet Association — whose members include Amazon, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, and Uber — says reps told Pai that it “continues its vigorous support” for… Read

Business

China Will Probably Raise Film Quota, Analyst Says

U.S. trade talks with China should pay off for Hollywood, a think tank analyst told the South China Morning Post in a report today. Under an agreement set in 2012, the quota on imported films in China is set at a floor of 34. Researcher Mei Xinyu of the Ministry of Commerce's Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation suggested today that is likely to rise following President Trump's Florida meeting last week with China's President Xi Jinping. Last… Read

Business

Twitter Challenges Trump Administration Summons To Reveal Tweeting Critics

Twitter — owner of the president’s favorite communications platform — is fighting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other federal officials who it alleges in a suit today are trying to “unmask” a user who has been critical of the Donald Trump administration. “The rights of free speech afforded Twitter’s users and Twitter itself under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution include a right to disseminate such anonymous or pseudonymous political speech,”… Read

Business

President Trump Signs Law Scrapping FCC Broadband Privacy Rule – Update

2ND UPDATE, 5:29 PM: President Donald Trump has signed into law Senate Joint Resolution 34, which “nullifies the Federal Communications Commission's rule on privacy of customers of broadband and other telecommunications services.” The move was expected after the Senate and the House passed bills scrapping an Obama administration rule requiring ISPs to secure consumers' permission before using or selling data about their Internet use. Opponents for the most part complained… Read

Business

FCC Reverses “Overbuild” Condition On Charter-TWC Merger

The FCC today said it will reverse a requirement of last year’s Charter Communications-Time Warner Cable merger that would have seen Charter build out 1 million broadband deployments into locations already serviced by another provider. The “overbuild” requirement was instituted by Obama administration FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to encourage more competition in the high-speed Internet game, and was part of an agreement to build out access to 2 million new customers overall… Read

Business

Steve Mnuchin Tells Ethics Officials He Shouldn’t Have Talked Up ‘Lego Batman’

Steve Mnuchin didn’t mean to promote The Lego Batman Movie — which he executive produced —  when he told an interviewer last week that "you should send all your kids to Lego Batman," the Treasury Secretary told the Office of Government Ethics today in a mea culpa letter. The answer created a minor stir. Government rules proscribe officials from using their position to enrich themselves. Mnuchin acknowledged as much last week when he preceded his answer to a question about… Read

Business

FCC Chairman Proposes To Restore Rule To Ease TV Station Mergers

Stock prices for TV station group owners are up today as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai signaled his willingness to make it easier for big players to become bigger. The agency’s April 20 meeting will include a plan to reinstate the so-called UHF discount used to calculate when a company hits the FCC’s ceiling on the number of stations it can own. “I'm proposing that we hit the reset button, returning the rule to the way it was up until last fall” when the FCC abolished the… Read