Big Tech Execs To Testify Before Congress (Again); Cord Shaving Will Be a Big Problem For Cable Nets

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Another Grilling

Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai and Jack Dorsey are heading back to the hot seat. House lawmakers are set to question the top execs at Facebook, Google and Twitter at a high-profile congressional hearing scheduled for March 25. Democrats and Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee will take fresh aim at the tech giants for failing to crack down on dangerous political falsehoods and misinformation about the coronavirus. (Feels like we’ve been here before, haven’t we?) And these aren’t the only House lawmakers looking to grill the big tech bigwigs. Per The Washington Post, a second group of reps on the House Judiciary Committee is planning to embark on a new, bipartisan push to toughen the country’s antitrust laws. The goal is to start actually cracking down on the sort of anticompetitive, monopoly-style tactics they identified at Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google last year.

Cord Shaving

The shift to streaming has been growing like mad during the pandemic, but don’t count cable out just yet. According to Adweek, even with cord cutting having hit an all-time high last year, the robust ad revenue and monthly cable carriage fees that media companies collect on their sometimes enormous basic cable portfolios remains vital to their bottom lines. NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia, Disney, Discovery, ViacomCBS and A+E Networks have no plans to trim their respective cable portfolios in the near future. In addition to a consistent revenue stream, cable networks also give their respective parent companies a big marketing advantage and access to their distinct audiences. Even so, cord-cutting is a looming threat for cable, and it’s not the only one. Enter: cord-shaving. Cable consumers are increasingly shifting to a skinny bundle so as to free up extra cash for streaming subscriptions. Experts say the smaller networks that aren’t included in the basic tiers or vMVPD lineups won’t be able to survive as their household subscriber numbers continue to plummet. Buyers have already begun to realign some cable spending to more stable networks. “It’s going to be really bad for independent networks,” said Michael Nathanson, a senior analyst at MoffettNathanson.

Mixed Bag

It’s been more than a year since California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) took effect, and publishers and programmatic ad sellers are still split on exactly what they need to do to comply, Digiday reports. Some are taking a conservative approach, while others, like ad management firm CafeMedia, have been a little looser in their interpretation of the CCPA’s notoriously ambiguous definition of what constitutes a sale. The jury is out on whether this stance might eventually catch unwanted regulatory attention. But for risk-averse publishers, like The New York Times, a strict interpretation is the only way to go. When a California resident opts out of their data being sold, or enables the Global Privacy Control tool, which California’s attorney general has implied qualifies as an opt-out request, the Times prevents the ad space created by that person’s page visit from being sold in real-time programmatic ad marketplaces. Instead, NYT relies on contextual signals and its first-party data to target ads to those site visitors. CafeMedia, meanwhile, uses the IAB’s CCPA compliance framework modeled off of the TCF. CafeMedia manages ad operations and sales for 3,000 digital publishers, all of which now feature Do Not Sell buttons.

But Wait, There’s More!

Google is once again letting political ads run on its platform following a pause that began after the Jan. 6 siege at the US Capitol. Meanwhile, two Democratic lawmakers sent letters to several cable and streaming providers on Monday, urging executives to address the misinformation that spread on their services ahead of the riot. [CNBC]

Ad buyers see potential in Gannett and McClatchy’s new local ad network pitch to national brands. [Digiday]

Australia will not change proposed laws that would make Google and Facebook pay news outlets for content, despite vocal opposition from the big tech firms. [Yahoo! Finance]

Mark Zuckerberg reportedly personally intervened to make the Facebook ban against Alex Jones in 2019 more lenient. [Business Insider]

The NFL is looking for massive hikes in TV rights fees. [MediaPost]

The MRC has issued a draft version of updated guidance on OTT and server-side ad insertion digital video measurement. [release]

Google’s treatment of AI ethics researchers continues to stir up controversy. [TechCrunch]

You’re Hired!

Audiencerate has appointed Filippo Gramigna as its new CEO. [release]

FreeWheel Appoints Yuling Ma As CTO. [release]

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