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NAB Expresses ‘Serious Concerns’ About Sohn FCC Nomination

The NAB cited her involvement as a director of the now defunct streaming service Locast but said it did not “currently oppose the nomination.”

(Photo courtesy Public Knowledge)

In advance of the Senate hearing scheduled for Dec. 1 on the nomination of Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) president and CEO Gordon Smith has expressed “serious concerns” about her previous involvement as a director in the streaming service Locast.

After lengthy litigation, the Locast service, which streamed local broadcast signals in more than 30 markets, was forced to shut down in September when a judge in the Southern District of New York ruled it was illegally streaming the signals.

“NAB strongly supports Congress’s desire to have a fully seated Federal Communications Commission as soon as possible,” Gordon said in a statement. “Although NAB does not currently oppose the nomination of Gigi Sohn, we have serious concerns about her involvement as one of three directors of the illegal streaming service Locast.”

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“NAB is confident that these concerns can be resolved,” stated Gordon. “However, the ethics agreement that Ms. Sohn submitted to the Senate currently does not adequately address the inherent conflict presented by her recent leadership position at Locast and her potential role as an FCC commissioner. NAB is actively working with members of the Senate Commerce Committee and the White House to address this conflict and requests that Ms. Sohn submit an amended ethics agreement that meaningfully and effectively addresses this clear and troubling conflict.”

Sohn is one of three leaders at the company, along with one other director and former Dish executive and Locast founder David Goodfriend. Two days after her nomination as commissioner, Sohn entered into a settlement with the plaintiffs in the case that enjoined her from operating Locast in the future or any other service seeking to exploit Congress’s nonprofit exemption to the copyright laws. The company also agreed to pay the broadcaster plaintiffs $32 million as a result of its ongoing illegal activity.

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