Gigi Sohn by Joel Sage is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Senator Roger Wicker is correct to call for further hearings on Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the Federal Communications Commission. There is still more information that needs to be discussed, such as the details of the Locast settlement and the conditions of recusal in FCC matters. 

Sohn spearheaded an FCC proceeding that would have enabled tech platforms to effectively steal and monetize television content without paying for usage rights. Just as a-la-cart television didn’t need direction from lawmakers. The set-top box regulations were clearly trounced by the market, as a myriad of streaming options for viewing content are currently available. However, this is just one instance where Sohn engaged in attempts to weaken intellectual property rights.  

Perhaps even more egregious, Sohn served on the board of Locast, a “non-profit” that was determined to be illegally retransmitting broadcasters’ content without their consent in violation of the Copyright Act. The case resulted in a permanent injunction that required Locast to pay $32 million in statutory damages. Sohn cannot be an impartial regulator of the broadcast industry after joining the Board of an organization that openly violated that industry’s copyrights.  

It is also interesting to note that her nomination was received in the Senate from the President that on the same day that the Locast settlement was announced, October 28, 2021. 

It has been reported that she is negotiating a recusal deal, but none of these details have been made public or shared with other senators on the committee. Further, we simply have to take Sohn’s word that she will recuse herself. These agreements have no force of law. It’s very problematic that someone who signed a $32 million settlement agreement with broadcasters now wants to regulate them. 

Further a recusal from ruling on broadcast licenses, retransmission or copyright relating to the parent companies of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, who filed suit against Locast, would severely limit her ability to do any of the primary work of the Commission. 

Americans for Tax Reform joined a coalition letter opposing her nomination over legitimate concerns regarding her ability to be impartial, which include hyper-partisan attacks on Republicans, interest in revoking broadcast licenses over viewpoints, doomsday predictions for the internet without Title II regulations.