WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Communications Commission plans to fine Sinclair Broadcasting Corp $ 13.3 million after it failed to properly disclose that paid programming that aired on local TV stations was sponsored by a cancer institute, three people briefed on the matter told Reuters.
The proposed fine, which covers about 1,700 spots including commercials that looked like news stories that aired during newscasts for the Utah-based Huntsman Cancer Institute over a six-month period in 2016, could bolster critics of Sinclair’s proposed $ 3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media Co.
Sinclair Broadcasting and a spokesman for the FCC declined to comment. Sinclair, which has told reporters previously the violations were unintentional, disclosed the investigation in financial filings.
Sinclair, which owns more than 170 U.S. television stations and is the largest U.S. operator, announced plans in May to acquire Tribune’s 42 TV stations in 33 markets as well as cable network WGN America and digital multicast network Antenna TV, extending its reach to 72 percent of American households. The FCC and Justice Department are reviewing Sinclair’s proposed acquisition of Tribune.
The proposed fine, which was approved by the five-member FCC earlier this week but has not yet been made public, is significant, officials said. The penalty represents an average fine of about $ 7,700 for each of the improperly aired spots but is significantly less than the maximum fine Sinclair could have faced under the law.
Sinclair will have the opportunity to respond to the proposed fine before it becomes final.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Nick Zieminski
LONDON (Reuters) – Social media companies should face prosecution for failing to remove racist and extremist material from their websites, according to a report by an influential committee.
FILE PHOTO – A picture illustration shows a Facebook logo reflected in a person’s eye, in Zenica, March 13, 2015.REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
Prime Minister Theresa May’s ethics watchdog recommends introducing laws to shift the liability for illegal content onto social media firms and calls for them to do more to take down intimidatory content.
Social media companies currently do not have liability for the content on their sites, even when it is illegal, the report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life said.
The recommendations form part of the conclusions of an inquiry into intimidation experienced by parliamentary candidates in an election campaign this year.
“The widespread use of social media has been the most significant factor accelerating and enabling intimidatory behavior in recent years,” the report said.
“The committee is deeply concerned about the limited engagement of the social media companies in tackling these issues.”
While the report said intimidation in public life is an old problem, the scale and intensity of intimidation is now posing a threat to Britain’s democracy.
FILE PHOTO – People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration/File Photo
The report found that women, ethnic minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political candidates are disproportionately likely to be the targets of intimidation.
The committee heard how racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic and anti-Semitic abuse is putting off some candidates from standing for public office.
Platforms such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are criticized for failing to remove abusive material posted online even after they were notified.
FILE PHOTO – A 3D-printed YouTube icon is seen in front of a displayed YouTube logo in this illustration taken October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Ilustration
The committee said it was “surprised and concerned” Google, Facebook and Twitter do not collect data on the material they take down.
“The companies’ failure to collect this data seems extraordinary given that they thrive on data collection,” the report said. “It would appear to demonstrate that they do not prioritize addressing this issue of online intimidation.”
Twitter said in a statement it has announced several updates to its platform aimed at cutting down on abusive content and it is taking action on 10 times the number of abusive accounts every day compared to the same time last year.
YouTube declined to comment, while Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Many politicians have become more vocal about the abuse they face after Labour’s Jo Cox, a 41-year-old mother of two young children, was shot and repeatedly stabbed a week before Britain’s Brexit referendum last year.
Reporting By Andrew MacAskill; editing by Stephen Addison
(Reuters) – A second lawsuit was filed this week against the organizers of cybercurrency technology project Tezos, an initiative that raised $ 232 million to issue a cryptocurrency that does not exist and fund development of a transaction system that has no clear end date.
Tezos co-founder and CTO Arthur Breitman and his wife and co-founder Kathleen Breitman respond to questions during the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. on October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Steve Marcus
The class action lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in Florida by Coral Springs-based law firm Silver Miller, alleges that Tezos’ organizers broke U.S. securities laws and defrauded and misled participants in the online fundraiser, according to court documents.
Many who put money toward the initial coin offering consider themselves investors, but the funds were raised as non-refundable donations.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday and made public on Wednesday. The defendants are Kathleen and Arthur Breitman, the co-founders of the project; their Delaware-based company Dynamic Ledger Solutions Inc, which owns the rights to the transaction system’s code; and the Tezos Foundation, a Swiss entity that was set up to carry out the fundraiser.
It is the second lawsuit in less than a month to hit the embattled project that in July raised funds in one of the largest ever initial coin offerings, a popular way for technology startups to collect money by issuing cryptocurrencies.
Neither Brian Klein, an attorney for the Breitmans, nor Johann Gevers, president of the Tezos Foundation, immediately responded to requests for comment.
The lawsuit quotes from a Reuters investigation and reports published in October that revealed details of a backroom battle between the Breitmans and Gevers over control of the project. The dispute has delayed the project. (reut.rs/2yGk6IT)
The lawsuit alleges that contributors to the fundraiser were not told that it could take more than three years for the Swiss foundation, which holds the funds, to purchase Dynamic Ledger Solutions and the project’s source code.
This time frame, revealed by Reuters, was not disclosed to investors despite being “a highly material fact,” the lawsuit alleges.
Plaintiffs are asking for a refund as well as damages, according to the lawsuit. It also alleges organizers sold unregistered securities.
“As a result of Defendants’ fraud, false representations and violation of federal and state securities laws in connection with the Tezos ICO, Plaintiff and the Class Members state their demand that the Contract be rescinded and canceled,” the lawsuit states.
Other law firms have said they are considering litigation.
Reporting by Anna Irrera and Steve Stecklow; Editing by Lauren Tara LaCapra and Cynthia Osterman
European Union officials are set to give final approval to a new EU-U.S. data transfer agreement early next week, after member states gave their approval to an updated text on Friday.
Privacy Shield is intended to replace the Safe Harbor Agreement as a means to legalize the transfer of EU citizens’ personal information to the U.S. while still respecting EU privacy laws.
A new deal is needed because the Court of Justice of the EU invalidated the Safe Harbor Agreement last October, concerned that it provided Europeans with insufficient protection from state surveillance when companies exported their personal data to the U.S. for processing.
The first draft of Privacy Shield agreement presented by the European Commission in January lacked key assurances from U.S. officials on the same matters that had concerned the CJEU about Safe Harbor.
The public has learned the “how” of Volkswagen’s deception involving the emissions of its “clean diesel” vehicles, but they are still asking the $ 18 billion question, why? The answer will probably unfold over the course of a televised congressional hearing, and the reasons will likely be numerous. But it’s clear that events in the years 2007 and 2008 were among the main impetuses.