Oct 26, 2017

FCC will vote next month on media deregulation proposal

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at an open meeting earlier this year. Photo: Robin Groulx / Axios

The FCC will vote next month on a sweeping media deregulation proposal put forth by the agency's Republican chairman on Wednesday.

Why it matters: It will be the latest victory the FCC has handed the broadcast industry this year. Critics say the agency takes positions that benefit the Trump-friendly Sinclair Broadcast Group that is trying to acquire Tribune stations.

The details:

  • The proposal would eliminate the ban on owning both a newspaper and a television station in a market, according to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's opening statement at a Wednesday congressional hearing.
  • It would also make it possible for the agency to allow a company to own more than one of the top-four television stations in a market, which is prohibited under current rules.
  • The proposal also eliminates other media rules, including cross-ownership regulations for radio and television stations. A draft will be released on Thursday.

The bigger picture: Pai's critics say actions like this will encourage more media consolidation. Earlier this year he made a change that removed a hinderance for Sinclair's later-announced merger with Tribune, and on Tuesday the agency voted to eliminate another regulation that required broadcast stations to keep a primary studio in the community they serve.

Worth noting: Democratic lawmakers also sharply criticized Pai on Wednesday for what they say was a tepid response to President Trump's tweeted suggestion that broadcast licenses for NBC stations should be challenged.

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China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown

People wearing facemasks stand near Yangtze River in Wuhan. Photo: HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

China has lifted its lockdown of Wuhan, the city in Hubei province where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in December, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: As cases surged in January, China took the draconian step of sealing off the city of 11 million and shutting down its economy — a response that was viewed at the time as only possible in an authoritarian system, but which has since been adopted by governments around the world.

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 378,289 — Total deaths: 11,830 — Total recoveries: 20,003Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill
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Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill

Glenn Fine, acting Pentagon watchdog

President Trump on Monday replaced the Pentagon's acting Inspector General Glenn Fine, who had been selected to chair the panel overseeing the rollout of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed last month, Politico first reported.

Why it matters: A group of independent federal watchdogs selected Fine to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, but Fine's removal from his Pentagon job prevents him from being able to serve in that position — since the law only allows sitting inspectors general to fill the role.

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