Two hundred and thirty-one years ago this week, Congress passed a collection of amendments to the U.S. Constitution, 10 of which would become the Bill of Rights. Foremost in the Bill of Rights is the First Amendment, which allows Americans to worship how they please, speak their minds openly, and have their voices heard by their government.
Our Founding Fathers, in their infinite wisdom, also included in the First Amendment the right to a free press. They understood that our democracy could not survive without the freedom to report the news without fear or favor. The times may have changed; that principle has not.
Continue reading “First Amendment Still Shines During Toughest of Times”
From shifting commercial placements to premature newspaper endorsements, this year’s early balloting procedures are having a massive effect on media operations. Political strategists are figuring out how and more importantly when to place ads in this unprecedented season of extensive early voting.
The Halloween weekend deluge of campaign ads just before Election Day on Nov. 3 may be meaningless if up to half of voters have already cast their ballots. In a related vein, the ripple effect of advertising decisions also affects ad timing for down-ballot races, where voters may need more coaxing.
Continue reading “Early Voting Brings New Media Challenges In Advertising and Editorial Endorsements”
Whatever happens with police reform legislation in Congress, there is no reason to expect that protection of reporters and media will figure into the proposed “best practices” of how journalists should be treated during tense and often violent situations such as we’ve seen in the past month. Generalized protections already exist in the First Amendment, but as the brutal incidents of the past month show, law enforcement officers can recklessly bypass those enshrined barriers.
A slew of reports – some of them admittedly self-pitying – emerged in recent weeks with frightening details about how print and electronic journalists have been attacked by law enforcement officers. It appears that sometimes reporters were singled out as they sought to cover the protests and demonstrations that erupted around the world after George Floyd’s death-by-knee in Minneapolis.
Continue reading “Ending the Media Versus Police Tumult”
Amid the deadly coronavirus and unfolding social justice movement, America stands at a momentous crossroads. Following the tragic death of George Floyd at the knees of the police, a multiethnic, multigenerational mass of righteous protest is demanding police reform in cities across the nation.
Captains of industry, in response, have hedged their corporate reputations on hefty pledges to promote African-American economic equality. In stark contrast, the president remains defiant to convention and defensive of status quo law and order.
Chronicling it all in real time for the world to see has been the mainstream media. Broadcast and national cable, in particular, have experienced a renewed relevance and a reborn sense of mission as the justice movement gains more sweep, scale, and seriousness. This has been especially meaningful for local TV, which needed to burnish its credentials with American viewers. Like many in America, journalists have discovered what heretofore has been absent from countless reports of black death-by-police. Transparency. Equity. Empathy.
Continue reading “Big Media’s Now Moment”
There is a saying
that goes, “Everybody has a story to tell.”
My own NAB Show
story began a decade ago – almost to this day, in fact – when I spoke at my
first show as the new president and CEO.
On that morning, I shared the story of broadcasters’ unrelenting
commitment to always be there for their communities … to inform them … and to
It is a
deep-rooted commitment that manifests itself in many ways that often go
unnoticed – in ways that have become ingrained in everyday life for millions of
turn on the radio to find out what the weather is like before heading to work …
to learn how to help their neighbors in need … or to listen to the great
personalities who seem like old friends.
They turn on their televisions to watch their favorite local news anchor
and to get an unbiased report of what is happening in their communities.
Continue reading “Broadcasting Today: Energized by Innovation”
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) first went on the warpath against big
banks, she captured the attention of middle America. Now, Warren has turned her wrath on Big Tech. Her mantra is that big companies are bad, and
the bigger the badder they are for all of us. The government, she argues, should step up its
regulation of these companies and step in to break them up if necessary. Not only is Warren wrong but she is also out
of step with most Americans today.
would be unfair to lay all the blame on Warren for the campaign against big
corporations. This sort of populism has
been a strain in American politics since the Revolution, and most recently
since the Occupy Wall Street campaign. But
today’s anti-corporate movement has a new look and a new lexicon, including
terms like privacy, net neutrality, and transparency, to accompany the typical
notions of competition and consumer protection.
Continue reading “Campaign To Break Big Tech Is Regulatory Overkill”
A new era of American history begins when the 116th Congress convenes in January 2019 with one of the most partisan classes in modern history. Depending on which side of the aisle they sit, the members’ mission will be either to balance the ship of state or continue full steam ahead.
Conventional wisdom suggests there will be conflict. Optimists hope there will be compromise. The reality will be somewhere in between as the new Congress will have the opportunity to forge a unified path on things that matter to all Americans. With so many pressing policy issues facing the republic – immigration, healthcare, homeland security, and more – it is a stretch to think telecom, media, and technology (TMT) issues will top the agenda or lead the day.
Continue reading “Conflict and Compromise Await New Congress in Telecom, Media, Tech”
We are living in the platinum age of television. Consumers are enjoying an abundance of movies, news, sports, and entertainment, available anytime and anyplace, in-home or out. Every communications medium from wireless phones to the worldwide web is in the business of broadcasting content over its platform. Although we now call it “video,” at the core, it is television nonetheless, and the world cannot get enough of it. For legacy broadcasters, this is both a blessing and a bane.
Before the end of the year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will finalize its mandatory review of the national ownership rules – set of regulations governing television and radio station ownership in the U.S. The FCC is expected to expand, and perhaps eliminate, the national ownership cap. If it does, broadcasters will be dealt an unprecedented, but fortuitous, break that will change the media landscape for the foreseeable future. It would be a follow-on to the FCC’s 2017 decision to reinstate the UHF discount, an arrangement that allows broadcasters to count UHF stations as only 50 percent toward the national ownership cap.
Continue reading “TV Owners Need New Rules To Keep Pace”
Something quite remarkable – unprecedented, actually – is scheduled to take place on Aug. 16. More than 100 newspapers across the country will mount a coordinated editorial response to President Trump’s increasingly frequent attacks on the media. Responding to a rallying cry from the Boston Globe, papers ranging from large metropolitan dailies to small weeklies will publish editorials defending freedom of the press and their critical role in this democracy. They will be joined by members of the broadcast media as well, with the strong support of the Radio-Television Digital News Association.
These editorial writers will be reacting to the constant stream of messages from the president, in tweets and speeches, that the mainstream media are “the enemy of the people,” “fake, fake disgusting news,” “fake news media,” and so forth.
One school of thought has held that replying to such charges is pointless because the president’s pronouncements are either hollow rhetoric or impulsive ramblings or political fodder for his base – or some combination of the three. Furthermore, since the First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, and the courts are willing to uphold that freedom, the president’s words can have no real effect on the media. Thus, this line of thinking concludes, the act of replying to hollow assertions becomes a hollow act itself.
Continue reading “Speaking Up for a Free Press”
The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” introduced amid great fanfare on Nov. 2, has now been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives along an essentially party-line vote. The Senate’s version, introduced Nov. 9, is still undergoing intense scrutiny as groups from every quarter weigh the bill’s proposed cuts in tax rates versus the elimination of certain deductions, credits, and other tax breaks.
As ideas for reforming the tax code were tossed around in recent months and even years, one proposal – or some variation of it – would surface from time to time. This was the idea that the tax deduction for business advertising expenses should be eliminated.
This has always been an ill-considered idea (as we shall discuss below), and thus we were relieved that it did not find its way into the new tax bills of either the House or Senate. But since these bills are only the opening salvos in the difficult battle to revise the tax code, it would be worthwhile to examine why this ad-related provision should not be a part of the measure that finally reaches the president’s desk.
Continue reading “Advertising Deductibility: For the Sake of Speech”