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FCC approves new ownership rules, ATSC 3.0 . November 16, 2017

The FCC on Thursday approved new ownership rules that would allow companies to own a television station and newspaper or television station and radio station in the same market.

The rule would also allow the FCC to waive on a case-by-case basis a ban on owning two of the top television stations in the same market. The order says the rules “is no longer necessary to promote viewpoint diversity in the modern media marketplace.” A release from the FCC said, “These actions will provide broadcasters and local newspapers with a greater opportunity to compete in the digital age and will help ensure a diversity of viewpoints in local markets.”

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said the change will help large media companies grow even larger.  … Read More

Broadcasters call on peers to join State Legislative Day .

Wisconsin broadcasters who have participated in State Legislative Day are calling on their peers to join them for calls on the State Capitol on Jan. 31.

A video published this week explains why it’s important for broadcasters to visit their lawmakers and talk about issues facings broadcasters and their markets.

To join State Legislative Day, register here:

https://www.wi-broadcasters.org/events/winter-conference-state-legislative-day/  … Read More

Senate version of tax reform preserves ad tax deductibility . November 10, 2017

The U.S. Senate version of a tax reform bill released this week preserves the deductibility of business advertising expenses.

“Local broadcasters support tax reform that promotes economic growth and job creation, and it is undeniable that advertising is a stimulus for both,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “NAB looks forward to working with members on both sides of the Capitol towards comprehensive reform that creates a fair and sensible tax code to the benefit of American businesses and families.”

The House version of the tax reform bill also preserves the deductibility of business advertising expenses.  … Read More

Assembly committee approves police body camera bill . October 31, 2017

The Wisconsin State Assembly’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted Tuesday to send a bill to the floor that addressed issues surrounding the use of police body cameras. The committee voted along party lines. The bill passed 8-4.

Among other things, the bill would set in place a process for the release of police body camera video when the video shows victims or witnesses who have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The WBA has registered as neutral on the bill with stated concerns about limits the bill would put on media access to the videos.  … Read More

Concerns raised about drone restrictions for newsrooms .

Multiple layers of regulations could affect the ability of newsrooms to use drones for news gathering, according to a report presented to the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.

Wisconsin State Journal photojournalist Michel King spoke to the council Oct. 26 saying that some state and local governmental agencies are placing restrictions on airspace beyond the FAA rules applied by the federal government, creating what could become a patchwork of regulations for commercial drone operators to navigate.

King cited the University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin DNR as examples of agencies that have such rules in place.  … Read More

WBA testifies about concerns with police body camera bill . October 5, 2017

The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association testified Thursday before the Assembly Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee about concerns with a bill to create statewide standards for the release of video obtained by body cameras used by law enforcement.

While the WBA supports the creation of a statewide standard for the release of video from police body cameras, some of the provisions proposed could create an “extremely cumbersome, inefficient, time consuming” process for getting access to the videos.

This is the testimony provided to the committee:

Please be assured that this is an important issue for the broadcast news industry.  … Read More

Sen. Baldwin takes lead on advertising deductibility . October 2, 2017

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin is one of two senators taking the lead in an effort to make sure the deductibility of advertising expenses remains law as legislators review options for tax reform.

Sen. Baldwin is joining Sen. John Boozman from Arkansas in drafting a letter to Senate leadership urging them to leave the current tax treatment of advertising in place. This is similar to an effort in made in the House earlier this year.

A tax reform proposal that was introduced last week by the administration and Congressional leadership did not contain specifics, but advertising deductibility is considered to be “on the table” as an option to help pay for tax reforms.  … Read More

Open records requests also open to public . August 16, 2017

Did you know that when you file an open records request with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, that request is itself a public record?

The DOJ is now posting regular reports of who has filed open records requests with its office. If you’re a reporter, you might want to take this into consideration whether you want to see what others are requesting or perhaps you’re plotting your own plan to get documents from the DOJ.

The document is updated weekly and posted here.

The DOJ is considering a proposal to make all open records responses,  … Read More

Rep. Sensenbrenner proposes music licensing database . July 21, 2017

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced a proposal this week to establish a database of licensing information for musical works and sound recordings.

The Transparency in Music Licensing Ownership Act is meant to help anyone using music look up the licensing status of the music to determine how they could use it legally.

“Across the country, businesses and establishments play or perform music for the enjoyment of their patrons, but the process of ensuring they are legally able to do so, as well as those who hold the license to the music or recordings being played are fairly compensated,  … Read More

State Supreme Court delivers open government victory . June 30, 2017

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled unanimously in support of open government advocates in a case involving a school district that held closed-door meetings.

The June 29 ruling said the Appleton Area School District violated open meetings law when it allowed a committee to review curriculum in a closed setting. The court ruled that the committee counts as a governmental body and should be subject to open meetings law.

Justice Michael Gableman wrote the decision. He dismissed the district’s concerns that subjecting such groups to the open meetings law “would be detrimental to the functioning of government.”

“We are not at liberty to exempt (the group) from the definition of ‘governmental body’  … Read More

FCC Chairman Pai, Sen. Johnson connect with Wisconsin broadcasters . June 5, 2017

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Sen. Ron Johnson took time June 5 to meet with Wisconsin broadcasters at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center and Pai went on to tour other broadcasters in the state.

Chairman Pai was in Wisconsin as part of a “heartland trip” across the Northern Plains to speak to people about how to make the FCC work for them. He was joined by Sen. Johnson during the Wisconsin leg of his trip where he met with broadcasters and broadband providers.

More than 25 managers from Wisconsin radio and TV stations came to Milwaukee to meet with Chairman Pai and Sen.  … Read More

Vetterkind testifies in support of repealing personal property tax . May 24, 2017

WBA President and CEO Michelle Vetterkind testified twice to state lawmakers in support of repealing Wisconsin’s personal property tax. She testified on May 24 before the Senate Committee on Revenue, Financial Institutions and Rural Issues and on June 1 before the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

Vetterkind argued that the personal property tax is a burden to broadcasters, who maintain many pieces of equipment subject to the tax.

“The next time you are in your local TV or radio station to do an interview or a show, take a look around at all the equipment that is needed to put the interview you just did out over the air,” Vetterkind testified.  … Read More

WBA hits the Hill, FCC for an action-packed DC Trip . March 1, 2017

The WBA’s Annual DC Trip took place Feb. 28 and March 1. Executive Committee members Nancy Douglass, WLKG-FM, Lake Geneva, Steve Lavin, WBAY-TV, Green Bay, along with WBA Federal Legislative Chair Roger Utnehmer, Nicolet Broadcasting, Sturgeon Bay; Jan Wade, WISN-TV, Milwaukee, and WBA President & CEO Michelle Vetterkind along with WBA Director of Communications Kyle Geissler attended the Leadership Conference which was held Feb. 28.

Vetterkind joined a panel at the morning session to discuss strategies for connecting with lawmakers and provided examples for how the WBA does this using social media.

To complete our delegation of 33 WBA representatives,  … Read More

Committee votes on changes to online court records . February 16, 2017

A committee convened by the director of state courts is reviewing issues regarding the state’s online court records system: Wisconsin Circuit Court Access, or WCCA, which most people refer to as CCAP. 

The committee is the third convened to ponder changes to the system, the other two being in 2000 and 2005. Those committees resulted in refinements to WCCA, including changes to how information is presented.

The current committee has more than two dozen members representing people inside and outside the court system, including Beth Bennett of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, and Michelle Vetterkind of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.  … Read More

WBA gets new hotline attorney for FCC issues . December 23, 2016

With the retirement of our long-time D.C. counselor, Dick Zaragoza, as of Jan. 1, David Oxenford of the Washington D.C. law firm of Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP will be our new “hotline” attorney for FCC issues. Feel free to call or email David with general questions about FCC legal issues, and David or someone from his firm will try to help you – at no charge to the station. Keep the questions general, as the hotline is not meant to review specific copy for ads or other broadcast material, and David and his firm will not be acting as your attorneys,  … Read More

WBA files brief in open meetings case involving Appleton School Board . December 5, 2016

The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association has filed an amicus brief alongside the Wisconsin Newspaper Association and Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council supporting the plaintiff in an open meetings case against the Appleton School District Board that’s been appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

A letter from the three organizations to Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel explains the case:

In this case, a committee of 17 teachers, administrators and staff members in the School District of Appleton was tasked with reviewing potential works of fiction to be included in a ninth grade reading curriculum. The committee, over the course of six months,  … Read More

2016 Post Election Update . November 11, 2016

Pillsbury has issued a post-election outlook after the victory of Donald Trump. You can read it here [PDF].  … Read More

Looking for insights on the election? . November 3, 2016

Our friends at Pillsbury have released their election night guide [PDF]. It’s a great guide to all the big races being tallied around the country. Take a look before election night.  … Read More