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house Bill H.R. 3426

Should Airport TVs Not Be Exclusively Owned by Cable Networks (Like CNN)?

Argument in favor

CNN’s ubiquitous presence in airports is a source of aggravation for many travelers, especially those who disagree with the network’s coverage of the Trump administration and those who’d prefer a quieter environment while waiting for their planes. This bill would use grant money to entice airports to stop signing contracts with CNN Airport News.

Dina 's Opinion
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07/07/2019
I’m on the left, but I know I would not want FOX news on every TV at the airport. So to be fair.....
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TheKdd's Opinion
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07/08/2019
CNN? I see more Fox on public TVs than anything else. Regardless, “Newstainment” shouldn’t be allowed at all. How about a strictly no opinion no BS news channel. Yeah I know it doesn’t exist.
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SneakyPete's Opinion
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07/08/2019
👍🏻 Airports Should Share The Wealth Amongst All News Networks 👍🏻 While CNN is imperfect, it’s a major U.S. news network. Additionally, the hefty contracts that CNN Airport News signs with airports — which are in the six digits annually — are an important revenue source for airports, which may struggle to make ends without this money. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. 7.7.19.....
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Argument opposed

While CNN is imperfect, it’s a major U.S. news network. Additionally, the hefty contracts that CNN Airport News signs with airports — which are in the six digits annually — are an important revenue source for airports, which may struggle to make ends without this money.

Lori's Opinion
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07/07/2019
Lol Steve King wants Fox News in all the airports. NO THANKS.
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jjackojr's Opinion
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07/07/2019
The airports should be free to play whatever they choose to on their TVs. Companies have the right to do as they wish with their marketing, etc. The airport has a right to contract anyone that they want, be it CNN, FOX, MTV, HGTV and so on. Besides, how many people actually watch these in the digital age?
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Janet's Opinion
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07/07/2019
CNN reports the facts. The last thing we need as a nation is brainwashing from networks that report fake news and only present one side of the story. Otherwise, the way news is presented in North Korea or Russian would come to mind.
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What is House Bill H.R. 3426?

This bill — the Television Freedom at Our Nation's Airports Act of 2019 — would condition airport improvement program grants on airport owners’ and operators’ agreement to ensure that television equipment in the airport’s terminals isn’t exclusively owned by a broadcast television network or cable television news network. Airport owners and operators would also have to ensure that the content displayed on TVs in their airports isn’t controlled under an agreement between themselves and a broadcast television network or cable news network. In effect, this bill seeks to freeze out CNN Airport News — the airport news programming that CNN offers in many U.S. airports.

Impact

Air travelers; airports; airport operators and owners; airport improvement program grants; and CNN.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3426

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Steve King (R-IA), who contends that CNN Airport News is a monopoly, introduced this bill to ensure that television equipment in airport terminals isn’t owned exclusively by broadcast/cable television news networks. When he introduced an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 in the 115th Congress also targeting CNN Airport News, Rep. King said:

“It’s time that travelers in airports were allowed to turn the channel on CNN. My amendment would allow greater broadcast choice for the nation’s travelers by eliminating CNN’s efforts to create an ‘airport monopoly’ through the use of agreements that restrict content to only its programs. Competition is good for the marketplace of cable news. Competitive pressures will encourage every network to produce a quality product that people will watch because they choose to do so, not because they are a captive audience forced to do so.”

In a 2018 interview, Rep. King added

“What we have here is a forced captive audience. You could walk out of a library, but when you're trapped with a long layover, it really doesn't pay to try to escape CNN because you can't escape them. If you're inside security, you're going to hear CNN, and it's offensive to me that it's like Big Brother is deciding what you're going to watch. We shouldn't be force fed information that's selected by any ideology, whether it comes from the right or the left.”

Dr. Robert Thompson, Trustee Professor of Television and Popular Culture at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and the founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture, says news networks cause strong responses from people, which may cause arguments in today’s charged political atmosphere: 

“There is certainly a sense in this country where the mere presence off Fox News playing in a public space upsets people and the mere presence of CNN or NBC playing in a public place upsets other people. And an airport is the last place you want to be fomenting arguments among people. And it's a sorry state of affairs, but we are culturally now in an emotional environment that what's on the television set in a public place can cause a huge argument, and I think that's something to be looked at as well.”

Fox News host Tucker Carlon criticized CNN’s ubiquitous presence in airports in 2018, saying, “Airports feel like a lesser version of hell with dirty seats, overpriced food and propaganda posing as news on CNN.”

This bill doesn’t have any cosponsors


Of NoteCNN is the main content provider in around 60 airports around the U.S. via the CNN Airport Network, which was established in 1991 as its own special network airing airport-exclusive programming. The CNN Airport Network is aired at over 2,400 gates across the country and CNN says 329 million people are exposed to its broadcasts at airports. Currently, CNN Airport Network is in 20 of the top 25 busiest airports in the U.S. Thus, CNN Airport Network is in view and within earshot for many air travelers. 

In order to be present at airports, CNN pays each individual airport a negotiated sum and handles all the infrastructure (i.e., cables and televisions) and costs (i.e., installation and maintenance) involved in displaying its content. These contracts are hefty: in 2019, CNN and Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport signed a new 10-year contract in which the network agreed to pay the airport $225,000 annually to air its airport network. A few years ago, Miami International Airport renewed its CNN Airport Network contract for eight years at a minimum of $150,000 in revenue for the airport.

According the CNN Airport Network, the network’s coverage mix is: 

  • 25% news, weather and business
  • 25% sports (including 80+ NFL games & the Super Bowl, 90+ NBA games, 15+ NCAA names including March Madness and 10+ postseason baseball games)
  • 25% entertainment/lifestyle (including Conan, The Carbonaro Effect, TCM, HBO Real Sports and Cartoon Network)
  • 25% travel

CNN Airport News also allows six one-minute customized spots for airports to use (usually to promote local destinations) and emergency messaging as needed. The network is on a 10-second delay when streaming live news stories (such as “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer”), so as to avoid airing something that may not be suitable for younger viewers or anything that might involve an airplane tragedy.

An open-ended December 2018 Washington Post poll about “most-trusted” political news sources found CNN in first place with 11% of respondents, while Fox News came in second with 9% of respondents. The Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Safety has found that CNN’s coverage of the Trump administration is largely negative, with CNN tied with NBC at 93% negative and 7% positive over Trump’s first 100 days in office.

For comparison, all news networks combined had the following negative-positive coverage splits for other recent presidents

  • Barack Obama: 41% negative, 59% positive.
  • George W. Bush: 57% negative, 43% positive.
  • Bill Clinton: 60% negative, 40% positive.

Because nearly all airports are operated by local governments, there’s a question of whether the public in an airport has a right to say which television stations they’d like to watch or have playing in the background at the airport. Radio.com argues, “whether or not a publicly operated entity has the right to force-feed those in the airport a particular source of programming, especially if a high percentage feels the newsfeed is nothing short of political propaganda, is a primary concern.”

In response to this, the ACLU of North Carolina says because airports are viewed as businesses, they don’t fall under the guidelines as public libraries (where CNN Airport News or its ilk wouldn’t be allowed). Government officials are allowed to approve and sign contracts with companies, and the ACLU of North Carolina contends that signing an exclusive contract with CNN is allowable under this principle. 

Deadline reports that ReachMe.TV — an upcoming in-airport mobile entertainment network — has partnered with CBS Television Stations in an effort to offer an alternative to CNN Airport News. The ReachMe.TV-CBS deal would provide entertainment, news and sports programming, including local news, weather and sports reports provided by CBS TV Stations; programming from other divisions of CBS Corporation including digital news service CBSN; and film and TV highlight packages from Entertainment Tonight.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / surachetsh)

AKA

Television Freedom at Our Nation's Airports Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend title 49, United States Code, to condition airport improvement program grants on certain assurances from airport owners and operators regarding television equipment in airport terminals.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
      Aviation
    IntroducedJune 21st, 2019
    I’m on the left, but I know I would not want FOX news on every TV at the airport. So to be fair.....
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    Lol Steve King wants Fox News in all the airports. NO THANKS.
    Like (103)
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    The airports should be free to play whatever they choose to on their TVs. Companies have the right to do as they wish with their marketing, etc. The airport has a right to contract anyone that they want, be it CNN, FOX, MTV, HGTV and so on. Besides, how many people actually watch these in the digital age?
    Like (84)
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    CNN reports the facts. The last thing we need as a nation is brainwashing from networks that report fake news and only present one side of the story. Otherwise, the way news is presented in North Korea or Russian would come to mind.
    Like (68)
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    CNN? I see more Fox on public TVs than anything else. Regardless, “Newstainment” shouldn’t be allowed at all. How about a strictly no opinion no BS news channel. Yeah I know it doesn’t exist.
    Like (48)
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    No. This is a political ploy - GOP trying to get Faux News (Fox entertainment channel) into airports to poison more minds. Vote no.
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    Interesting problem for the FAUX Snooze supporters. Don’t believe in capitalism after all? Really socialists after all? Ever heard of the internet on your phones?
    Like (26)
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    Need I mention who is writing this bill? The guy who preys on children and wants to turn the clock back to where a person was only a person if their skin was a certain color and was male. So I tend to view whatever comes from him with suspicious eyes. That said while this sounds grand and all the fact stands he literally wrote this because CNN is willing to point out the mistakes and flaws of the party in charge. Now it is likely CNN does this regardless of who that is but certain thin skins can’t take being poked at or commented when they shoot themselves in the foot or put their foot in their mouths by not doing their homework before they jump into the exam. Simply put if another company wanted to move in they could create a good service for local airports. Or that airports could contract to other parties. He literally does not like CNN and is trying to punish them legally and specifically. Rather sounds like government overreach and vindictiveness for a person just doing their job. When do we allow a government to personally punish a person or group that they don’t like but are not actually doing anything shady or wrong?
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    I personally disagree with this bill because depending on where you travel, you could see programing that is inappropriate for mass audiences— programs like Fox like present biased media, and there is the fact that when companies are able to buy into airports, specifically smaller and regional airports, it can provide a much needed since of revenue.
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    Ok. But then how will conservatives keep travelers from seeing reality while abroad. I’m a New Yorker. While I was in Montréal this weekend I was surprised to see far more construction than I’ve ever expected. We’re told the economy in America is doing Great. Maybe for Wall Street. Want a construction job? Want health care instead of health insurance. Move to Canada 🇨🇦.
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    I feel CNN is recognized the world over as being independent. What would the Republican sponsoring this bill prefer...Trump News or Fox News ????
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    The government has no right to dictate what TV is watched by the public. Steven “conspiracy theory” King is trying to make sure Fox News is the official State TV that can only be televised in public areas. This is so transparent, it’s frightening. This won’t go anywhere, thankfully.
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    👍🏻 Airports Should Share The Wealth Amongst All News Networks 👍🏻 While CNN is imperfect, it’s a major U.S. news network. Additionally, the hefty contracts that CNN Airport News signs with airports — which are in the six digits annually — are an important revenue source for airports, which may struggle to make ends without this money. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. 7.7.19.....
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    Pass this bill quickly! But,make sure opposing viewpoints have equal time. Diversity of information is vital to our democracy.
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    Wow! I am so glad to see some vitally important and useful legislation proposed for a change! Must be trying to get some points for getting bills considered. Re-election pending? I must object to this because obviously our greatest need is to have all airports repainted in gender neutral color schemes and very soft shades in a gently flowing yet rather nuanced and somewhat subdued motif- HARSH REDISH colors hurt my eyes.
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    Look at the sponsor. ‘Nuff said
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    Transparent political ploy to interfere in commerce. Total BS. If the other networks want coverage in airports, they can send their salesman to beat the streets for the contracts. Stop legislating to save losers when they can’t compete. Let the better products win.
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    While I personally would prefer no televisions at all in public places I realize many would wither if they went an hour without tv. So, for all of us that have suffered through the misery of Fox at the gym, at the doctors office, dentist, and almost every other office space I say thank goodness we can at least get sane news at the airport.
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    Sounds good to me. They’re full of themselves and lying a majority of the time any way. LIKE MY TAKE? GIVE ME A FOLLOW
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    This is long overdue. Travelers shouldn’t have their intellects insulted by having to view failing, hateful, bigoted, fake news CNN.
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