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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
TV station owners are taking advantage of FCC rules to quietly take over small-town airwaves, but cable and satellite companies are crying foul to regulators.
Driving the news: Broadcasters aren't supposed to own more than one top-rated outlet in any market, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill reports. But they are snapping up multiple stations anyway in small markets like Parkersburg, W.Va., and Greenville, Miss., as the broadcast TV market is challenged by changes in technology and advertising.
The big picture: Broadcasters have long faced unique regulatory limits on their reach, but now digital competition has shrunk their share of the ad pie. Consolidation, they argue, is how they can compete with digital giants as well as cable and satellite companies while still providing local broadcasts.
Details: The FCC's rules prohibiting broadcasters from owning two top-rated stations in a market aims to protect business competition and diversity of viewpoints.
What they're saying: Critics of the practice say it reduces competition, but broadcasters say it's a choice between having one company providing local broadcast news in a small town, or having none. "You're going to really cut the guts out of local journalism if it keeps going without some changes like this," Bradley said.
What's next: The battle over the future of the media ownership rules will heat up this fall.
Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers are taking FCC chairman Ajit Pai to task after his agency approved Gray Television's request to buy the third-rated TV station in Sioux Falls, S.D., even though Gray already owns the second-rated station.
A war of words (and numbers) between workplace messaging service Slack and Microsoft is heating up, as Slack finds itself having to compete in the category it pioneered.
The big picture: Slack, which went public in June via a direct listing, now finds itself up against Microsoft, which has the luxury of including its rival Teams product as part of its big Office bundle.
By the numbers: While Teams has gained ground — it claims 13 million daily active users — Slack maintains it is still dominant when it comes to what workers are actually using.
What they're saying: In an interview, Slack CTO and cofounder Cal Henderson says Microsoft's numbers really aren't all that impressive when you consider the company has been including Teams in the package for 100 million Office 365 customers for two years now and has been pushing Skype For Business customers over to Teams.
Henderson says that Slack's not being part of a big software company's bundle actually gives it a competitive advantage against Microsoft and others. That allows Slack to work as a partner across all the software a business uses, from Microsoft and Google to Salesforce and Workday and startups.
Henderson insists Slack is doing well — even at companies that are big Microsoft Office users.
What's next: Expect more tough words at Slack's Spec user conference, which kicks off today in San Francisco.
Three prominent tech critics in the Senate will introduce new legislation Tuesday requiring social media giants to give consumers ways to move their personal data to another platform at any time, Kim Hart reports.
Why it matters: The bill's goal is to loosen the grip social media platforms have on their consumers through the long-term collection and storage of their data. Allowing users to export their data — like friends lists and profile information — could give rival platforms a chance at competing with Facebook or Google's YouTube.
Details: Democratic Sens. Mark Warner (Va.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), along with Republican Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) are introducing the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act.
The big picture: The bill follows on other legislation from Warner and Hawley:
Flashback: In the early days of the wireless industry, consumers avoided switching wireless carriers because they'd have to switch numbers.
What they're saying: Warner, who spent a large part of his career in the wireless industry, believes data is similar to phone numbers in making consumers feel locked in to a single platform.
Between the lines: Tech companies have long argued they are different from the telecom giants and therefore shouldn't be regulated the same way.
In its bid to take on Microsoft Office, Google has hired someone who knows the product well: former Outlook boss Javier Soltero.
Why it matters: Google and Microsoft are in a tough battle to win the hearts, minds and email accounts of business customers. While G Suite has gained share, especially for email, Microsoft has pivoted Office from a desktop software to a subscription service.
Details: Soltero, who will run the consumer and business sides of G Suite, will report to Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian.
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