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Overnight Tech: House to probe media ownership rules

LEDE: The House Energy and Commerce Committee is moving on from the frenzy of the Pope's visit quickly, with the Communications and Technology subcommittee calling a hearing Friday to look at media ownership issues.

Subcommittee Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has said he is particularly interested in exploring issues related to minority ownership and ownership caps. The panel's ranking member, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), is expected to say that the FCC should not loosen its restrictions on ownership.

"Nothing we deal with has easy answers but one thing is certain: relaxing the FCC's media ownership rules will pave the way for increased industry consolidation, which does nothing to promote localism, competition or diversity," she will say, urging a particular focus on diversity. "And it flies in the face of democracy where there are many voices to the many ... not fewer."

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The witness list includes a representative from the National Association of Broadcasters, as well as other industry witnesses, and public interest groups. A lawyer for the NAB will call the FCC's rules antiquated in an age where Netflix and Hulu compete for your time with your local network affiliate, saying that "the current rules are outdated and fail to serve any" of the FCC's objectives.

Common Cause's Todd O'Boyle will say that Congress should not take steps to loosen regulations on joint sales agreements between broadcast stations. Relaxed media ownership rules concern some because of the risk of consolidation of ownership.

"Presently this chamber is considering legislative vehicles to eliminate this reform. We call on you to halt them forthwith," he will say. "Whether through standalone legislation or via appropriations rider, reversing the FCC's JSA reform would be a staggering step backwards and foreclose future pro-local, pro-diversity policies."

SENATE INCHES AHEAD ON PATENT BILL: Draft language on a missing part of the Senate's patent reform bill has been circulating among stakeholders since last week, addressing the procedures for patent holders to amend claims during trial-like reviews -- inter partes reviews and post grant reviews -- at the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). The Senate Judiciary Committee approved its bill to rein in patent trolls in June, but the "amended claims" language in that bill was just a placeholder.

The provision was important to some advocacy groups like 21C, which endorsed the draft language on Thursday as an "effective compromise." The life sciences industry is also pushing both chambers to exempt FDA-approved drugs from those PTO proceedings. The technology industry and others, however, have been largely against using the patent litigation reform debate to change the PTO reviews, which were created a few years back under previous reform. A summary is here

SALESFORCE CEO GETS TICKET TO POPE ADDRESS: Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff was a guest of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during Pope Francis's address to Congress. Benioff fired off a number of tweets from Washington, where he also met with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

DOES MEDIA PREFER APPLE?: Ahead of Pope Francis's speech to Congress, Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzCongress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent Fox News Audio expands stable of podcasts by adding five new shows The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE (R-Utah) observed that many Capitol Hill reporters are Apple users, judging by the rows of computers propped up in the press gallery above the House floor: "Press gallery in the House looks like an ad for Apple with the illuminated computers," Chaffetz tweeted. 

SMARTPHONE PASSCODE AT CENTER OF INSIDER TRADING CASE: A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled that two former employees of Capital One do not have to hand over their company-owned smartphone passwords related to allegations of insider trading. The ruling centered around the Fifth Amendment's protections against self-incrimination. But in an article in The Washington Post, George Washington University professor Orin Kerr explains why he believes the ruling should be appealed. 

ICANN SAYS STABILITY COMES WITH INDEPENDENCE: ICANN President Fadi Chehade said the "ship has sailed" on concerns that another governmental body will assert greater control of the Internet domain names system as the United States plans to relinquish its own oversight role. Addressing Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense: Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military | Military guns go missing | New White House strategy to battle domestic extremism Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military: 'We are not weak' Biden tries to erase Trump's 'America First' on world stage MORE's (R-Texas) concerns with the Commerce Department's hand off decision last year, Chehade said: "The best guarantee of our stability in our work is our independence, so the U.S. decision to show the world that the multistakeholder model works and that it is now comfortable and ready to end its stewardship... I think is in fact the best contributor to our independence." The comments came on C-SPAN's "The Communicators."

FACEBOOK RENAMES INTERNET.ORG APP: Facebook is renaming its app that offers free Internet service to a limited number of websites, which has raised net neutrality concerns in the past. The move is meant to distinguish the platform from its broader initiative to connect people around the globe, called Internet.org. The announcement comes as the platform went live Thursday, a few months after the company first announced it was allowing other developers to design their websites to fit the basic service. 

YAHOO UNVEILS TRANSPARENCY REPORT: Yahoo released its transparency report for the first six months of 2015 on Thursday. United States government requests for user data are up as compared with the previous six-month stretch, growing from 4,865 to 5,221. However, fewer accounts were actually subject to the requests. There were 14,670 for user data globally. The only countries that have requested the removal of content so far this year are India, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

ON TAP: 

At 9:30 a.m., the Energy and Commerce Committee is holding a hearing on broadcasting ownership. 

At noon, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is holding a briefing on "What Happens When Net Neutrality & The Internet of Things Collide?"

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is fining Sprint and two other companies for their failure to handle 911 calls made by hard-of-hearing customers.

Google's new CEO praised India's prime minister in a video late Wednesday as the world leader prepares to visit Silicon Valley.

Some lawmakers couldn't help but snap pictures from the House floor Thursday during Pope Francis's historic speech to Congress.

The explosion of daily fantasy sports almost didn't happen.

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged Wednesday to maintain an open market for foreign companies and assured business leaders he would address their concerns about intellectual property theft and discriminatory policies.

 

Please send tips and comments to David McCabe, dmccabe@thehill.com and Mario Trujillo, mtrujillo@thehill.com Follow us on Twitter: @HilliconValley@dmccabe