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The Republican-led Federal Communications Commission votes to abandon limits on media ownership that have kept companies from dominating local media markets, most immediately benefiting conservative Sinclair Broadcasting Group as it seeks a merger that would enable it to reach nearly 75 percent of the U.S. population. The FCC also takes steps to roll back a program subsidizing broadband and phone access for low-income people. The Federal Election Commission moves toward tighter regulations on some political ads published on internet platforms. The Freedom of the Press Foundation reported ready to stop routing donations to WikiLeaks. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer
The most pressing threats and notable goings-on in free expression today
Trump’s FCC Paves Way for Media Consolidation
The vote marks the latest in a series of controversial moves from the FCC under Pai. The agency is also looking to roll back net neutrality protections, and endorsed Congress’s decision to repeal internet privacy protections. The FCC also previously moved to reinstate a rule that allows broadcasters to understate their overall reach.
FCC Votes to Limit Program Funding Internet Access for Low Income Communities
Sen. Ed Markey called the Lifeline program the “the Medicaid of the telecommunications universe” and argued in a statement that cuts “could exacerbate the digital divide and deprive disadvantaged communities the opportunity to access key educational, employment, and emergency services.”
Election Officials Move Closer to Placing New Rules on Facebook and Google
All five members of the commission voted Thursday to start a rulemaking process to require disclaimers for small, character-limited political ads that run online on places such as Facebook, Google and Twitter. The commissioners described working together to prevent foreign operatives from influencing American voters as a crucial priority.
THE WASHINGTON POST
Free Press Group Ready to Cut Off WikiLeaks
The practical effect of the move is minimal—WikiLeaks donors in America may no longer be able to claim a tax write-off. The symbolic import is much larger. The Freedom of the Press Foundation is something of a Justice League for the online privacy, transparency, civil liberties, whistleblower, and press-rights communities.
THE DAILY BEAST
Woman with Crude Anti-Trump Truck Decal Arrested for Fraud
Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office records show Karen Fonseca was arrested about 2 p.m. Thursday on an outstanding fraud warrant issued in August by the Rosenberg Police Department. “I’m almost certain it does have to do with (the truck decal),” she said after her release. “People abuse the badge, and in my opinion, money talks.”
The European Union Steps Up its Fight Against Fake News
The strategy’s development will draw on public feedback and an expert group representing academia, online platforms, media and civil society. The process is set to move quickly: The new strategy is set to be released by spring of next year.
Sudan Journalists Oppose New Law Curbing Media Freedom
“The new law threatens the freedom of the press, and so we outright reject it,” said Sadeq al-Rizeigat, head of the Sudan Journalists’ Syndicate. The new legislation would also allow the press council to ban a newspaper from publishing for 15 days without any court order, he said.
Ankara Bans Turkish German-Language LGBTI Film Festival
The governor’s office said there was a “clear and imminent danger” that certain groups “with certain social sensitivities” would react negatively to the festival. Pink Life QueerFest, which organized the festival, criticized the move, saying it “deprives us of our constitutional rights,” in a statement.
Wales’ Top University Attacked as a ‘Hostile Place’ for Free Speech
A statement from Spiked said that the university “restricts offensive speech and operates an outright ban on homophobic speech” and in the section on the students’ union highlighted opposition in 2015 to prominent feminist Germaine Greer delivering a lecture.
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