How Trump’s FCC Plans to Change the Media Ownership Rules
Cheryl A. Leanza (@cleanza) is the President of her consulting firm, A Learned Hand, LLC, www.alearnedhand.com. In this capacity she serves as policy advisor to the United Church of Christ’s historic media advocacy arm and as the Co-Chair of the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights Media & Telecommunications Task Force. Her other clients have included the Progressive States Network, Leadership Conference Education Fund, National Federation of Community Broadcasters, Future of Music Coalition, Public Knowledge, and Native Public Media, among others.
Ms. Leanza helped to lead the victorious effort to pass the Local Community Radio Act, and has been a leader in public interest advocacy for more than 15 years, including advocacy for diversity in media ownership, protection for children in media, and other policies furthering First Amendment principles, including open Internet. She has represented non-profits before the Federal Communications Commission, in the U.S. Appellate courts and before Congress, and has been widely quoted in the trade and mainstream press on these issues.
Ms. Leanza’s prior positions include a stint as Principal Legislative Counsel for telecommunications at the National League of Cities where she was lead lobbyist for local elected officials during the period when Congress was debating changes to local cable television franchising laws. She also spent six and one-half years as Deputy Director of Media Access Project and began her career in the Federal Communications Commission’s honor attorney program.
Ms. Leanza is a cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and the Ford School of Public Policy and teaches at Georgetown University’s Department of Communications, Culture and Technology. Ms. Leanza serves on the board of the Prometheus Radio Project and has served as Vice Chair of the Media and Democracy Coalition, as well as on the Federal Communications Bar Association’s Executive Committee and the Foundation Board. She is admitted in the District of Columbia and New York; and in the United States Supreme Court; U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Third, Fourth, and Ninth Circuits.
The Leavers by Lisa Ko
Donald Trump Jr. communicated with Wikileaks
Juilia Ioffee reports for the Atlantic that Donald Trump, Jr. exchanged direct messages via Twitter with Wikileaks during the 2016 presidential campaign. The exchange went on at least through July of this year. This is the first connection that Congressional investigators have established between the White House and the notorious leaking site which investigators believe Russia enlisted to interfere with last year’s election. Wikileaks warned Trump, Jr. ahead of time about a new website that was to be released showing ties between Trump and Putin. Wikileaks requested favors of Trump, Jr. including access to Trump’s tax returns.
House Democrats call for an investigation into FCC Pai’s ties to Sinclair
Top House Democrats including House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings and Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone are seeking an investigation into FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s ties to Sinclair Broadcasting. Pai is accused of passing rules changes that clear the path for Sinclair’s pending acquisition of Tribune Media, which would give the combined company access to some 70% of the U.S. TV market. Harper Neidig reports in the Hill.
Qualcomm rejects Broadcom’s acquisition bid
The Qualcomm Board of Directors has unanimously rejected Broadcom’s $103 billion acquisition bid. Qualcomm said that the bid is too low. Harper Neidig reports in the Hill.
Missouri’s AG opens investigation into Google
Prompted by a record, $2.8 billion fine against Google by the European Union, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has issued subpoenas to Google as part of a state investigation to determine whether the company prioritizes its own search results over that of its competitors. Harper Neidig reports on this as well in the Hill.
Softbank to participate in $1 billion bid for Uber
Uber has accepted an investment offer from Asian telecom conglomerate Softbank that is part of a total $1 billion investment being made into the ride-sharing company by a consortium of other companies. This investment will open up the possibility of Softbank acquiring up to $9 billion in equity from the company’s shareholders. Softbank also owns a majority stake in Sprint. The deal with Uber is seen, in part, as an opportunity for Uber to expand into Asia as it struggles against stiff competition from Lyft in the U.S. for which Google parent Alphabet is leading a $1 billion investment effort. Ali Breland reports in The Hill.
Senate Commerce Committee approves sex trafficking bill
The Senate Commerce Committee has approved the Stop Online Sex Trafficking Act, or SESTA, which would limit the exception created by section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which grants immunity to web sites for illegal posts made by their users. The current bill would crack down specifically on websites that facilitate sex trafficking. The current version of the bill is now supported by the Internet Association, as well as Amazon, Facebook, and Google. But Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has placed a public hold on the bill, which will now require it to meet a 60-vote threshold before moving on to the full Senate.
DC Circuit Court of Appeals narrows warrants for data from inauguration daty protests
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked the Department of Justice’s ability to obtain data from innocent, third party Facebook users who used a page dedicated to organizing a protest against Trump’s inauguration. The court is seeking to institute what it terms as “procedural safeguards” to prevent innocent users’ data from being sweept up with targeted suspects’. The Court will now be approving all of the DOJs search terms in connection with the investigation into criminal activity that occurred during inauguration protests.
Silicon Valley disapproves of GOP tax plan
Leading Silicon Valley figures are opposing the GOP tax plan to tax employee stock options once employees receive them. This is opposed to the current tax law providing that only the capital gains tax of stock options are taxable. Some five hundred Silicon Valley leaders from firms such as Facebook, Uber, Y Combinator and others criticized the plan in a letter to Orrin Hatch. Ali Breland reports in the Hill.