Home » Video » Recent Articles:

Pennsylvania Governor Seeks 100% Broadband Reach; But Offers Only Token Amount to Achieve It

Gov. Wolf

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf wants broadband service to be available to every Pennsylvania resident by the year 2022, but will offer only a token amount of state funding to private bidders in the upcoming FCC Connect America Fund Phase II Auction.

“I want to ensure every Pennsylvania household and business has access to modern day high-speed internet,” Wolf said. “Equal access to the internet, regardless of location or income, must be provided if Pennsylvania is to remain competitive, if we want to offer every child the best education, if we want to live in a state where we all can access modern day healthcare options, if we want a state where our farms and other businesses thrive, and the jobs of tomorrow are created.”

Wolf will create the Pennsylvania Office of Broadband Initiatives, which will develop and execute a forthcoming state plan to get service to every corner of the state over the next four years. The governor will also set aside up to $35 million for his new Pennsylvania Broadband Investment Incentive Program, which is supposed to convince incumbent phone and cable companies to extend service into adjacent rural areas that lack service today.

According to State Rep. Pam Snyder (D-Greene/Fayette/Washington), about 800,000 Pennsylvanians currently lack broadband access. About two-thirds are in rural areas while the rest are in underserved urban areas served by providers that don’t meet the FCC’s definition of broadband service. About 20% of rural Pennsylvania residents are stuck with DSL as their only option, compared to 3% in urban areas. Broadband service is defined under Pennsylvania law as at least 1.544 Mbps download speed and 128 kilobits per second upload speed. The FCC’s national standard is 25/3 Mbps.

Areas where at least 25Mbps broadband is available in Pennsylvania (Blue – Cable, Brown – Fiber) (Map courtesy of Pennsylvania Department of Community Economic Development)

To achieve 100% coverage, providers would have to upgrade their networks and extend them to places that are currently unserved, as well as upgrade older broadband technology incapable of achieving 25 Mbps, the minimum federally defined speed qualifying as broadband.

Two years ago, Verizon turned down federal subsidies to expand rural broadband in the northeast, including $140 million earmarked for Pennsylvania and nearly $170 million for New York. New York won back money originally offered to Verizon, Pennsylvania did not and its share was forfeit. What made the difference?

“New York had a half a billion dollars they brought to the table,” said Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission spokesman Nils Hagen-Frederiksen last November. Pennsylvania offers up to $35 million.

Gov. Wolf’s new initiatives may be part of an effort to give the state’s rural broadband program more credibility in Washington, especially as up to $2 billion in new federal funding becomes available for broadband expansion across the country.

A separate effort now underway at Penn State involves an 11-month study of broadband access in rural Pennsylvania, in part to determine exactly how bad rural broadband service is in the state.

“Very slow and constantly having to reset it,” Sharon Czarniak of Turbotville told WNEP-TV in Scranton. “We get it through Verizon because it’s not available any other way in our area because it’s too rural.”

If service in the town of Turbotville is challenging, outside of town it is impossible.

“Surrounding areas all outside of Turbotville in the mountainous areas, there is no service for internet,” Missy Magargle said.

George Sudol told the TV station his internet service is weather-dependent.

“Storms, a little bit of rain or anything, will knock us right offline. Besides being slow, we have problems just getting online a lot of times,” Sudol said.

Unfortunately for the residents of Turbotville, and other rural communities across Pennsylvania, $35 million won’t go very far providing broadband improvements. But it is a start.

WNEP-TV in Scranton reports on faster internet for rural Pennsylvania. (2:37)

Senators Blast FCC’s Inaccurate Wireless Broadband Coverage Map

A bipartisan group of senators from some of America’s most rural and broadband-challenged states blasted the mapping skills of the Federal Communications Commission in a hearing Tuesday.

The senators were upset because the FCC’s Universal Service Fund will pay subsidies to extend wireless connectivity only in areas deemed to have inadequate or non-existent coverage. The FCC’s latest wireless coverage map is the determining factor whether communities get subsidies to expand service or not, and many in attendance at the Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet subcommittee hearing quickly called it worthless.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said the map’s “value is nil,” quickly followed by the Subcommittee chair Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) who added, “we might as well say it, Mr. Moran, that map is utterly worthless of giving us good information.”

“The simple answer is: it’s garbage in, garbage out,” said Steve Berry, CEO of the Competitive Carriers Association, which counts several small, rural cell phone companies as members.

This FCC map shows (in blue) areas identified as eligible to receive wireless subsidies to expand service where little or none exists today. (click map to expand)

The latest version of the map was heralded by the FCC as a significant improvement over the 2012 map used during the first round of funding. But critics like Berry claimed the map still relies entirely on carrier-provided data, much of it based on network capacity, and there is an incentive for existing wireless carriers to overestimate coverage because it assures funds won’t be given to potential competitors to strengthen their cellular networks.

The FCC claimed it gave carriers new benchmarks to meet in its latest map, including a request to only identify an area as covered if it achieves 80% certainty of coverage at 4G LTE speeds of 5 Mbps or more. To identify underserved zones, the FCC asked carriers not to identify areas that passed the first test as served if cell towers in that zone exceeded 30% of capacity. But Berry noted the FCC did not include a signal strength component, which means a carrier could report a significant area as getting adequate coverage based on the capacity of their network in a strong reception zone, even if customers nearby reported ‘no bars’ of signal strength or coverage that dropped completely once indoors.

Sen. Wicker

Senators from Kansas, New Hampshire and Mississippi were astonished to see maps that claimed virtually 100% of all three states were fully covered with mobile broadband service. The senators rejected that assertion.

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) has devoted a section on her website to collecting reports from New Hampshire residents getting poor cell phone reception, and she has been a frequent critic of the FCC’s coverage maps which she has repeatedly called inaccurate.

In northern Mississippi, wireless coverage is so poor the Mississippi Public Service Commission launched an initiative to collect real-world data about reception through its “Zap the Gap” initiative. But the FCC’s latest map suggests the problem is solved in the most signal-challenged areas in the northern part of the state, with the exception of small pockets in the Holly Springs National Forest, the Enid Lake area, areas east of Coffeeville, parts of Belmont, and areas east of Smithville.

The four major national wireless carriers suggest there is no problem with wireless coverage in Mississippi either. AT&T claims to reach 98% of the state, Verizon Wireless 96.43%, T-Mobile 66.36%, and Sprint 30.92%. Regional carrier C Spire claims 4G LTE coverage that falls somewhere between T-Mobile and AT&T in reach.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) told the subcommittee in his state, the FCC’s maps have little resemblance to reality, showing 4G LTE speeds in areas where no cellular reception exists at all.

“The FCC is wrong, they screwed up, we’re getting screwed because they screwed up, so how do we fix it?” Tester asked. “There has got to be a way to get the FCC’s attention on this issue. We’ve got to do better, folks, it’s not working.”

Mississippi’s program to report cellular coverage gaps.

Independent cell phone companies that specialize in serving areas the larger carriers ignore are hamstrung by the FCC and its maps, according to Mike Romano, senior vice president for policy for NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association — a trade group and lobbyist for smaller rural providers. Romano told the subcommittee if any cellular company reports coverage to even one household in a census block (which can cover a large geographic area in rural states), that entire block is ineligible for Connect America Fund subsidies.

The FCC, rural carriers complain, is relying on small wireless companies to serve as the map’s fact checkers and forces them to start a costly challenge procedure if they want to present evidence showing the map is wrong. Such proceedings are expensive and time-consuming, they argue. Even if successfully challenged, that does not win the companies a subsidy. It only opens the door to a competitive bidding process where challengers could face competing bids from larger companies that made no effort to challenge the map data.

A group of senators signed a joint letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai complaining about the accuracy issues surrounding the FCC’s wireless map:

Dear Chairman Pai:

We write this letter to express our serious concerns that the map released by the Federal Communications Commission last week showing presumptive eligible areas for Mobility Fund Phase II (MF II) support may not be an accurate depiction of areas in need of universal service support.  We understand that the map was developed based on a preliminary assessment from a one-time data collection effort that will be verified through a challenge process. However, we are concerned that the map misrepresents the existence of 4G LTE services in many areas.  As a result, the Commission’s proposed challenge process may not be robust enough to adequately address the shortcomings in the Commission’s assessment of geographic areas in need of support for this proceeding.

MF II is intended to provide $4.53 billion in support over 10 years to preserve and expand mobile coverage to rural areas. These resources will be made available to provide 4G LTE service where it is not economically viable today to deploy services through private sector means alone.  Having consistently traveled throughout rural areas in our states, it appears that there are significant gaps in mobile coverage beyond what is represented by the map’s initial presentation of “eligible areas.” To accurately target support to communities truly in need of broadband service, it is critical we collect standardized and accurate data.

For too long, millions of rural Americans have been living without consistent and reliable mobile broadband service.  Identifying rural areas as not eligible for support will exacerbate the digital divide, denying fundamental economic opportunities to these rural communities.  We strongly urge the Commission to accurately and consistently identify areas that do not have unsubsidized 4G LTE service and provide Congress with an update on final eligible areas before auctioning $4.53 billion of MF II support.

In addition to Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the letter was signed by Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Angus King (I-Maine), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee held a hearing on broadband infrastructure needs. The FCC’s wireless broadband coverage map was a main issue in contention. (Note, the hearing begins at the 30:00 mark.) (2:05:00)

Discovery Prepares to Launch Its Own 18-Channel Mini-Bundle of Cable Networks

Phillip Dampier March 7, 2018 Competition, Consumer News, Online Video, Video No Comments

As Discovery Communications completes its $11.9 billion acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive Inc., the newly supersized basic cable network powerhouse will lay the foundation to launch its own online video mini-bundle of all 18 Discovery and Scripps networks, along with on-demand options, for as little as $6 a month.

The new service, to be branded collectively as “Discovery” will include programming from:


Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Oprah Winfrey Network, Velocity, Science, Discovery Family, American Heroes Channel, Destination America, Discovery Life, Discovery en Español (Spanish), and Discovery Familia (Spanish).


Cooking Channel, DIY Network, Food Network, Great American Country, HGTV, and Travel Channel.

The package is being developed as a defensive move to fight the ongoing erosion of subscribers that are cord-cutting traditional cable television. Discovery has lost 5% of its viewers in the U.S. in the last quarter alone, because many customers are moving to on-demand services like Netflix combined with over-the-air stations.

The newly enlarged Discovery is now the largest provider of non-fiction basic cable programming in the country. A combination of instructional programming popular on Scripps’ networks is expected to fit well with the reality and documentary programming popular on most Discovery networks. Although frequently bundled with alternative cable television streaming services, those services typically lack a deep on-demand library of content.

In order to drive subscriptions, Discovery’s streaming service is expected to be budget priced and include a large library of on-demand content, possibly including programming from other networks not owned by Discovery down the road.

The combined company also hopes to leverage as much savings out of the merger as possible. That will likely mean extensive job cuts at both companies. Discovery and Scripps together have more than 11,000 employees, including 600 ad sales people working for Discovery and 500 ad sales people working for Scripps.

Discovery will shut down its headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., and open a new headquarters in New York for both Discovery and Scripps employees. But Discovery will maintain Scripps’ headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn., as an “operations headquarters” for back-office work.

The two companies also have a significant international presence with more than three billion viewers worldwide, but the company plans to downsize international studios and consolidate production facilities in the United States and Poland, where Scripps owns  TVN, a Polish broadcast television network that favors reality TV programming and is seen in 90% of the country.

At some point, some of the 18 networks may be consolidated. Discovery executives note it now has two channels devoted to food and cooking — Food Network and the Cooking Channel.

Discovery’s niche will continue to be non-fiction programming, even as much of the rest of the industry is rapidly moving towards scripted series. Discovery executives point out that an hour of a scripted TV series now costs an average of $5 million, while an hour of reality programming produced in-house costs about $400,000. Scripps’ networks have managed to produce their shows for even less, recorded in pre-constructed studios that do not require remote location filming.” As far as Discovery is concerned, sticking with nonfiction programming is the right choice.

“We look at that [scripted] side and we say, ‘Good luck with that,’” said Discovery CEO David M. Zaslav. “That’s not what we do. We don’t do red carpet.”

Discovery Communications and Scripps Networks promote their merger and their global networks in this company-produced spot. (2:47)

Comcast Needed Help to Let Them Know Their Broadband Pipes Were Full

The country’s largest cable internet service provider needed help from an app developer in Portland, Ore. to let it know its broadband pipes were full and to do something about it.

Comcast customers were complaining about slow downloads from the Panic website and the company’s own workers were saying largely the same thing when attempting to remotely connect to the company’s servers from home.

Because Panic’s web servers have just a single connection to the internet via Cogent, it would be a simple matter to track down where the traffic bottleneck was occurring, assuming there was one. The company asked for volunteers to run a test transferring 20MB of data first from Panic’s server and then again from a control server hosted with Linode, a popular and well-respected hosting company.

The results were pretty stunning.

With speeds often around only 356.3kbps for Comcast customers connecting to Panic, something was definitely up. It also explained why employees had a rough time connecting to the company’s server as well — Panic’s workers are based in Portland, Ore., where Comcast is used by almost every employee.

The slowdowns were not related to the time of day and because the problem persisted for weeks, it wasn’t a temporary technical fault. Panic’s blog picks up the story about what is behind all this:


Major internet pipes, like Cogent, have peering agreements with network providers, like Comcast. These companies need each other — Cogent can’t exist if their network doesn’t go all the way to the end user, and Comcast can’t exist if they can’t send their customer’s data all over the world. One core tenet of peering is that it is “settlement-free” — neither party pays the other party to exchange their traffic. Instead, each party generates revenue from their customers. Cogent generates revenue from us. Comcast generates revenue from us at home. Everyone wins, right?

After a quick Google session, I learned that Cogent and Comcast have quite a storied history. This history started when Cogent started delivering a great deal of video content to Comcast customers… content from Netflix. and suddenly, the “peering pipe” that connects Cogent and Comcast filled up and slowed dramatically down.

Normally when these peering pipes “fill up”, more capacity is added between the two companies. But, if you believe Cogent’s side of the story, Comcast simply decided not to play ball — and refused to add any additional bandwidth unless Cogent paid them. In other words, Comcast didn’t like being paid nothing to deliver Netflix traffic, which competes with its own TV and streaming offerings. This Ars Technica article covers it well. (How did Netflix solve this problem in 2014? Netflix entered into a business agreement to pay Comcast directly. And suddenly, more peering bandwidth opened up between Comcast and Cogent, like magic.)

We felt certain history was repeating itself: the peering connection between Comcast and Cogent was once again saturated. Cogent said their hands were tied. What now?

In addition to giving the internet public policy community new evidence that peering fights leaving customers stuck in the middle might be heating up once again. It also suggests if Comcast was unaware of the problem, it does not reflect well on the cable company to wait weeks until a customer reports such a serious slowdown before fixing it.

The folks at Panic took a chance and reported the problem to Comcast, bypassing the usual customer support route in favor of a corporate contact who listed a direct email address on the company’s website. Comcast took the request seriously and eventually responded, “give us one to two weeks, and if you re-run your test I think you’ll be happy with the results.”

Indeed, the problem was fixed. The folks at Panic say according to Comcast, two primary changes were made:

  1. Comcast added more capacity for Cogent traffic. (As suspected, the pipe was full.)
  2. Cogent made some unspecified changes to their traffic engineering.

The folks at Panic and their users are happy that the problem is fixed, but some questions remain:

  1. Is Comcast intentionally throttling web traffic in an attempt to extract a more favorable peering agreement with Cogent?
  2. How could Comcast not know this particular connection was hopelessly over-capacity for several weeks, leaving customers to deal with heavily throttled traffic.

“While this story amazingly had a happy ending, I’m not looking forward to the next time we’re stuck in the middle of a peering dispute between two companies,” wrote Cabel. “It feels absolutely inevitable, all the more so now that net neutrality is gone. Here’s hoping the next time it happens, the responsible party is as responsive as Comcast was this time.”

Panic explains internet slowdowns resulting from peering disputes in this (3:30) video.

Republican FCC Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly Get Ethics Complaints, Investigations

Phillip Dampier March 2, 2018 Net Neutrality, Public Policy & Gov't, Video No Comments

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is under investigation by the Inspector General of the Federal Communications Commission after being alleged of improperly taking actions to benefit Sinclair Broadcast Group, while one of his colleagues, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, is the subject of an ethics complaint after allegedly violating the Hatch Act by openly advocating for the re-election of President Donald Trump.

Pai’s actions as head of the FCC under the Trump Administration have been under scrutiny by some members of Congress since last fall. Ranking Member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) signed a joint letter addressed to FCC Inspector General James Hunt last November requesting an investigation after they claimed Chairman Pai “has repeatedly refused to adequately respond to Congressional inquiries” on the matter.

Pallone and Cummings noted press reports that Pai specifically timed certain FCC regulatory actions to directly benefit Sinclair, seen as politically friendly to the Trump Administration and Republicans. As evidence, they included multiple examples of suspiciously timed regulatory changes that seemed to coincide with Sinclair’s business deals and the company’s lobbying efforts in Washington:

Sinclair-Bonten License Transfer Application

Chairman Pai rescinded a guidance in February (2017), effectively loosening the scrutiny the FCC’s staff applied to deals that could skirt local TV ownership restrictions by using a sharing agreement (effectively allowing Sinclair to control stations owned by another company). The FCC approved a deal three months later where Sinclair used several of these sharing agreements, potentially to circumvent the rules.


Reinstatement of the UHF Discount Rule

Press reports indicated in March, 2017, Sinclair was in talks with Tribune Media Company about a potential merger, but analysts remarked the deal would likely require the FCC to reinstate an outdated rule called the “UHF discount.” This rule, left over from the days of analog television and finally rescinded in 2016, did not count UHF television stations above Channel 13 the same as VHF stations (Chs. 2-13) when defining how many TV stations a single company can own. The theory behind the discount was that analog UHF reception was more difficult and, as a result, such stations were less valuable than their lower channel counterparts. But digital television largely erased that distinction because UHF reception has improved, TV stations can be “mapped” by digital tuners to any channel number, and, in some areas, digital VHF stations suffer more reception problems than UHF stations do.

Chairman Pai suddenly announced his plan to reinstate the outdated UHF discount rule the same month Sinclair began talks with Tribune. Sinclair announced its proposed acquisition of Tribune’s TV stations just two weeks after the FCC reinstated the UHF discount. If approved, the transaction would solidify Sinclair as the country’s largest TV group owner with a potential to reach 70% of the country, which is far in excess of the current 39% limit.

LG’s Ultra High Definition (UHD) televisions support ATSC 3.0, and were demonstrated at the 2017 Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Next Gen TV (ATSC 3.0)

Sinclair has been one of the main proponents of the ATSC 3,0 (also known as “Next Gen TV”) transition, and its subsidiary holds patents that reports indicate could provide billions of dollars in licensing fees to Sinclair. Chairman Pai announced during his first full month in office a proposal to allow the TV industry to accelerate a transition to the new standard.

Since that time, the FCC has pushed ATSC 3.0 forward and the new technology has begun to be tested in the United States. Some consumer groups worry the new technology will be costly if consumers cannot afford or find converter boxes for existing televisions, although ATSC 3.0 proponents promise stations will continue to broadcast a Standard Definition version of existing TV stations for at least five years after the transition begins.

New televisions supporting the standard have already gone on sale in South Korea at prices ranging from around $900-$1,500US. The government is subsidizing TV station owners a minimum of $1.75 billion as part of a TV station repack that will precede the introduction of ATSC 3.0. But no subsidies will be given to consumers. Those buying ATSC 3.0 tuners or televisions will do so out of their own pocket if they wish to continue watching over-the-air stations. Sinclair will also get a royalty payment for each new television or tuner sold.

Main Studio Rule

The FCC voted last October to eliminate rules requiring a local broadcast station to maintain a physical presence in the market in which it operates. This means a station could deliver programming to a station’s transmitter from another city, with no local programming or personnel. This move would make Sinclair’s potential merger even more profitable by eliminating many of the costs of maintaining local stations, particularly labor and news-gathering costs.

Broadcast Ownership Rules

Chairman Pai plans to significantly change the existing broadcast media ownership limits. This would clear away virtually all remaining obstacles to Sinclair increasing its reach beyond the Tribune merger proposal and acquire still more television stations. Sinclair has carefully prepared for this eventuality by contractually obligating the new owner(s) of stations Sinclair is required to sell to remain under whatever ownership cap still exists to sell those stations back to Sinclair if and when Sinclair requests it.

According to the two Democrats, “all of these actions — when taken in context with reported meetings between the Trump Administration, Sinclair, and Chairman Pai’s office — have raised serious concerns about whether Pai’s actions comply with the FCC’s mandate to be independent.”

Pai’s critics are also concerned about the increased partisanship of the chairman and another Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly. Both turned up at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland last week.

The NRA’s “Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award” for Ajit Pai’s Assassination of Net Neutrality Includes a Kentucky Long Gun

Pai at CPAC

When Pai arrived on stage to deliver a short speech, Dan Schneider, executive director of the American Conservative Union, which sponsors CPAC, took the microphone to introduce the FCC chairman.

“Ajit Pai is the most courageous, heroic person that I know,” Schneider said. “He has received countless death threats. His property has been invaded by the George Soros crowd. He has a family, and his family has been abused in different ways. Chairman Pai, thank you for everything you’ve done.”

He then turned the podium over to Carolyn Meadows, second vice president of the National Rifle Association, who surprised Pai with the NRA’s “Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award,” a rare honor given only to firebrand conservatives willing to push through their political agenda regardless of criticism or voter backlash. Pai was being recognized for ignoring the comments of tens of millions of supporters of net neutrality and pushing through a complete repeal of the open internet rules, regardless of the possible political consequences.

Previous award winners include controversial former Milwaukee Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., Undersecretary John Bolton, who once threw a tape dispenser at a female government contractor and chased her down a Moscow hotel hallway, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, and Vice President Mike Pence.

The honor included a “Kentucky hand-made long gun,” said Meadows, who promised to store the gun for Pai at an NRA museum. That prompted a Tweet from the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, claiming Pai’s gun award likely violated federal ethics rules.

As criticism of the FCC chairman grew, Pai’s office sent letters on Thursday to both the NRA and the American Conservative Union declining the handmade weapon. Pai indirectly blamed the NRA, claiming his staff has asked at the event that the gun not be given to him. But the NRA came up with its own compromise, storing the gun until Pai left office.

“As you know, once my staff became aware of what was happening, they asked backstage that the musket not be presented to me to ensure that this could be first discussed with and vetted by career ethics attorneys in the FCC’s Office of General Counsel,” Pai wrote, an FCC source told Politico. “Therefore, upon their counsel, I must respectfully decline the award. I have also been advised by the FCC’s career ethics attorneys that I would not be able to accept the award upon my departure from government service.”

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly Calls for the Re-Election of President Trump and Violates the Hatch Act


At the same CPAC event, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly also managed to find himself the subject of controversy in response to a question.

Q. What can the FCC do to stop the constant “ping pong” of issues, like net neutrality, every time the party in power changes in the nation’s capital?
A. “I think what we can do is make sure as conservatives that we elect good people to both the House, Senate and make sure that President Trump gets re-elected,” O’Rielly answered.

Experts claim O’Rielly violated the Hatch Act, a law that prohibits employees in the executive branch of the federal government, except the president, vice-president, and certain designated high-level officials from engaging in certain forms of political activity. Telling the public to re-elect President Trump counts as a violation.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) already warned government officials so steer clear of President Trump’s already announced 2020 re-election campaign. In short, the Hatch Act “prohibits federal employees, while on duty or in the workplace, from expressly advocating for or against his reelection in 2020,” the OSC wrote in a guidance memo distributed to all federal agencies.

American Oversight, a group that monitors ethics issues in Washington, filed a formal complaint with the OSC against O’Rielly on Feb. 23:

“American Oversight respectfully requests that the Office of Special Counsel (“OSC”) immediately open an investigation into whether Michael O’Rielly, Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), violated the Hatch Act during an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference today, February 23, 2018. We do not believe this presents a hard question.

“Appearing in his capacity as a commissioner of the FCC, Commissioner O’Rielly improperly engaged in partisan political activity by expressly advocating for the re-election of Donald Trump
and exhorting the crowd to “elect good people to the House [and] the Senate.” Specifically, during the panel discussion, Commissioner O’Reilly delivered the following remarks:

“‘I think what we can do is make sure as conservatives that we elect good people to both the House, the Senate, and make sure that President Trump gets re-elected. But there’s another thing you can do. We’re going to have a fight over the Obama internet rules in the next couple months in the U.S. Senate. And that’s going to matter and that vote matters, and so making sure people take the right course on that, really does affect what policies we’re able to keep in place moving forward. So we can certainly use everyone’s help along those lines.’

“These remarks, made in Commissioner O’Rielly’s capacity as a commissioner at the FCC, constitute prohibited partisan political activity under the Hatch Act. As you know, the Hatch Act generally prohibits federal officials from engaging in partisan political activity while on duty. Advocating for the election of a candidate in a partisan election is the classic example of such prohibited activity.”

“The FCC controls our airwaves, the internet, and so many of the things we interact with every single day,” said Austin Evers, the executive director of American Oversight. “It should be independent, it should not be partisan, and bottom line, it should obey the law.”

Another group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is also reviewing the event.

“This certainly raises Hatch Act issues,” spokesman Jordan Libowitz told the Chicago Tribune. “[O’Rielly] is prohibited from taking part in partisan political activity using his official title or position.”

“The Young Turks” explain Ajit Pai’s attack on net neutrality and the award the NRA gave him for killing it. (7:16)

Search This Site:


Recent Comments:

  • Chris: I am glad I found this site. Been with charter for well over a decade. Finally have phone service available in my area, on the west coast. However, w...
  • C Hines: How bout my phone went out on Sunday and they’re telling me it will be 4/11 before they can maybe get it fixed. I live in a very rural area with no ce...
  • Rosemary Reich: Throughout conversion to digital we have consistently mislead, lied to and bait and switched. If you like the Post Office and old Ma Bell...you will ...
  • Sam: This is such a stupid problem. Every TV provider that isn't a cable company understands that selling service by the simultaneous stream is the future....
  • scott: but no fox sports midwest for cards and blurs games. sorry but charter is way late to the party. playstation vue has everybody beat by a long shot . ...
  • EJ: That is not a fair rational at all. Fiber can be run by backbone only companies. It will take time yes, but if the wireless companies are willing to d...
  • L. Nova: Anyone who thinks that this 5G is going to be the savior for wireless doesn’t get it: you still need a lot of fiber to connect these antennas. There’s...
  • EJ: Dear Germany take it from us Americans... do not and I mean do not go down that road. Look at our mess in the internet market and ask yourself is a pr...
  • kaniki: A lot of live action shows are like that.. Same with movies.. But, when you go toward the cartoons.. not so much. credits are a good example of the sp...
  • kaniki: Left most loop holes wide open?? and you expected them to close them?? If they did, it would hurt them, and they are too greedy for that.. As for the ...
  • kaniki: I did not mean it as it was one person, or anothers fault, but more like, they are sitting there talking about Republicans are... while this stuff hap...
  • Michal: We had our chance in Australia.. politics ruined it :(...

Your Account: