April 27, 2017 Last Updated 8:06 am

With the FCC now about to turn a blind eye to media consolidation, might print properties become more attractive?

Morning Brief: Past rules prevented rich newspapers from buying up local broadcast properties, but now the tables are turned and some broadcasters might like the concept of owning print newsrooms that can compliment their broadcast properties

Just what of the president’s many initiatives really will end up being enacted? Will the corporate tax rate really get slashed to 15 percent, will NAFTA be thrown out the door, or will we find ourselves in all out nuclear war with North Korea (or Canada over softwood)? Likely none of these things will occur, though if I had to bet on one I’d go with lowering the corporate tax rate.

So, is anything really going on in Washington these days? Yes, all the action is taking place at the agencies once controlled by Democrats.

The Federal Communications Commission is a great example: it plans to hand AT&T and Comcast huge victories by dismantling regulations on broadband providers. It also will be turning a blind eye on media consolidation.

This latter issue was once the cause célèbre of newspaper owners, back when newspapers were kings of the hill. But today, few newspaper companies are in a position to be acquiring local television stations. In fact, several large media companies have split off their print from broadcast into separate companies – might that mean that broadcasters might consider buying up their local papers? Maybe, but that seems unlikely.

Companies like Gannett and New Media Investment Group have been rolling up print properties under the belief that only if they have enough scale can they attract national digital advertising. But they have been doing so under the belief that the FCC would not allow them to acquire non-newspaper properties in the same market they have newspapers. The change at the FCC might lead these companies to re-evaluate their strategies.

Maybe newspaper properties will become more attractive acquisitions to local broadcasters, however. I could see media companies deciding that the real way to lock in advertising is to make sure it owns the radio, television and print properties in a single market. If you want to reach consumers in, say, Chicago, you would have to go through a single media owner who has control of all the local media outlets.

That would have been disallowed in the past, but we are in a new era, one in which common sense regulations of businesses are all being thrown out.



Los Angeles Times, Ajit Pai (FCC Chairman):

Why I’m trying to change how the FCC regulates the Internet

Because of Title II regulation, fewer Americans have high-speed broadband access, fewer Americans are working to build next-generation networks, and fewer Americans have competitive choice than would have been the case had the FCC not gone down the Title II path.

In 2015, the FCC also established a so-called Internet conduct standard, which gave the FCC a roving mandate to micromanage the Internet. Talk about a recipe for regulatory uncertainty. The FCC abused this newfound authority, as regulators are inclined to do, launching a wide-ranging investigation of free-data programs under which wireless customers can stream music, video and the like without limits. These programs are popular among consumers, particularly lower-income Americans, and make the wireless marketplace more competitive.

TechCrunch, Devin Coldewey:

Sen. Schatz on FCC: ‘They have no idea how outraged people are about to be’

I noted that Chairman Pai had assigned a great deal of partisan and political motives for the 2015 Open Internet Order — this speech was very far from a procedural dispute. He’d even attempted to discredit a critic for, apparently, being a socialist.

“I was struck by the partisan tone,” said Sen. Schatz. “It was troubling. He’s the chairman of a quasi-judicial body and I thought it was unnecessary. My instinct is they have no idea how outraged people are about to be, or the volume and velocity and passion of the public comments that are going to come flowing in. I would not be at all surprised if it was a record number, and if they ran 50 to 1 against what the commission is proposing.”

The New York Times, Editorial:

President Trump’s Laughable Plan to Cut His Own Taxes

Mr. Trump’s plan aims to cut corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 15 percent. To hear the administration tell it, the present rate is choking investment and killing jobs. In fact, big businesses are earning record profits, and many of them pay no federal taxes. The corporate income tax brought in just 10.6 percent of the federal government’s revenue in 2015, down from between a quarter and a third of revenue in the 1950s, according to the Pew Research Center. A better approach, as part of broad-based reform, would be to eliminate loopholes that have encouraged businesses to avoid their fair share of taxes.

Mr. Trump would also apply that 15 percent tax rate to pass-through income that business owners get from limited liability companies, a change that would directly benefit real estate developers like him. This would also create a huge incentive for wealthy Americans to turn their earnings into pass-through income in order to avoid paying higher personal income tax rates. This is no idle threat. Many Kansas residents, including the men’s basketball coach of the University of Kansas, have sheltered income in L.L.C.s since that state exempted income generated through such legal structures from its income tax in 2012.



It doesn’t surprise me that former President Obama would be willing to speak at Cantor Fitzgerald’s health-care conference in September for big bucks. First, and let’s be honest, would you reject an offer to give a one hour talk for $400K? Sign me up. Second, the former president knows that the press will cover the event and (it is likely to be more open than those speeches Hillary Clinton gave) and if he has something to say about current events that would be the time to do it.

But will anyone listen and take the man seriously? I know I will, from that day forward, always compare what he says with who is paying him to say it. He, oddly, is making the same mistake made by Clinton, and doing unbelievable damage to his brand.

But he’ll be $400,000 richer.

The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin:

Obama’s office confirms he will give lucrative speech to Wall Street firm in September

News of Obama’s speech sparked debate, particularly on social media, over whether he was cashing in, with critics likening his scheduled appearance before Cantor Fitzgerald to speeches that Hillary Clinton was criticized for giving to Wall Street firms after leaving her job as secretary of state but before officially running for president in 2016…

…Obama is represented by the Harry Walker Agency, and while his office has not disclosed what he is charging for speeches, past presidents have charged hundreds of thousands of dollars for individual appearances. Bill Clinton, according to federal disclosure forms, averaged more than $200,000 per appearance for much of the last 15 years.

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