House Appropriations Subcommittee to Block FCC’s Political Ad rule

The House Appropriations subcommittee voted to block disclosure of political TV ad buyers online, The Hill’s Erik Wasson and Brendan Sasso reported this morning. Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.) offered an amendment to strip out the language blocking the ad rule according to Wasson and Sasso,  but his amendment lost the vote, 4 to 8. In the report, committee member, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) said,

“It is obvious what this is all about and it is embarrassing, frankly. It looks like you are trying to cover up the fact that these fat cats are coming into these elections and they don’t want their names known.”

Following this decision, in an email from FreePress, Tim Karr wrote,

With their bottomless reserve of lobbyists and money, broadcasters are betting they can muscle their way into Congress and reverse a victory that tens of thousands of us fought hard to win….And their bet has just paid off.

Included in the email is a link to  this letter  demanding that Congress “serve the public and not media lobbyists.”

“In the post-Citizens United era,” wrote Karr, “we can’t let broadcasters hide their political profits.”

HNL’s Chuck Totto at June 13th Democracy Under the Influence Talk

“Don’t Charge Your Dinner Bill to the City”

A discussion on ethics at Honolulu Hale with Chuck Totto of the City & County of Honolulu Ethics Commission.  Wednesday, June 13, 2012 – 5:30 p.m. -  R&D *, 691 Auahi St.

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RSVP on the Common Cause registration pageThese events are cosponsored by Common Cause Hawaii, Kanu Hawaii, and League of Women Voters of Hawaii.

*Biased editorial note: the Morning Glass/Stumptown coffee here is awesome. 




NYT report – Different Channels, Same News – Sound familiar?

Today, Brian Stelter has an interesting article in the New York Times today that highlights the pitfalls of new content among shared services agreements (SSAs). If you watch television here in Hawaii, you may be aware of these concerns seen in the SSA that lives here.

While it’s unsettling to see the same exact content across channels like a hall of mirrors, the FCC’s reaction is particularly troubling. The government office apparently doesn’t have complete data on the number of such agreements across the country. Thankfully, the NYT sources University of Delaware Professor, Danilo Yanich’s research as we have done elsewhere in the blog.


#DUITalk on Civil Beat’s State Integrity Project, Storified

Thanks to Civil Beat, Kanu Hawaii, Common Cause Hawaii and the League of Women Voters Hawaii for another informative evening!  Last night was focused on the State Integrity Project that Civil Beat helped conduct for Hawaii. Associate Editor, Sara Lin gave remarks, and diligent tweeting by Kanu made for an easy Storify which you can see after the jump:

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Community Broadband Efforts Compete with Corporate Services

The FreePress’ Save the Internet initiative covered a new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) today and shared the video above. Josh Levy of the FreePress reported, “Bristol, Va., Chattanooga, Tenn., and Lafayette, La.— built next-generation broadband networks that deliver a faster, more affordable Internet than their corporate competitors.”

Christopher Mitchell, Director of ILSR’s Telecommunications as Commons Initiative said that all three cities offer gigabit service throughout the community. Additionally, “these publicly owned networks have each created hundreds of jobs and saved millions of dollars,” said Mitchell. The full text of the ILSR report can be found here, as well as more information at the Community Broadband Networks initiative.

On Oahu, Kokua Wireless is smaller version of community broadband. It describes itself as “a private network that has joined forces with the City and County of Honolulu and Private Business sponsors, to create free access to the internet via Wifi across the island.” There is also a map of where the service can be accessed, and at what data rate. Statewide, the Hawaii Broadband Task Force is using their own broadband map to collect data on usage and areas in need of service.


Problems Implementing Public Files Online

Today, the New York Times reported that the FCC is following it’d due diligence by fining broadcasters without properly kept public inspections files, by delivering justice to the Columbia University radio station seven years late. NYT‘s Ben Sisario reported “WKCR, the radio station of Columbia University, has been fined $10,000 by the Federal Communications Commission over a lapse in its record-keeping from 1998 to 2005.”

The Times also sourced David Oxenford, a lawyer familiar with this area. “There are some big station owners who get hit with these fines,” he said, “but by and large, the bulk of these are small stations that have small staffs, and this obligation just gets overlooked.”

Last Friday, Honolulu’s Civil Beat took the public file inspection to task with this report, where the intrepid reporters visited stations and obtained the files. They’re ‘intrepid’ because getting these files isn’t always so simple, as some Cleveland-area college students recently found out. While the FCC recently mandated broadcasters in the top 50 markets to make the public files data available online, Honolulu is just outside of the top 50. CB reporters share sympathies with ProPublica‘s similar effort on the issue called ‘Free the Files.’  Daniel Victor and Justin Elliot are covering this issue, and have recently noted that formatting problems won’t allow the public file data to be easily searchable.

It seems like the FCC is headed in the right direction on this, but at the moment they’re a just a few steps behind the times.