More NFL Woes

Butt Fumble

The FCC dumped the sports blackout rule Tuesday, dealing a blow to the NFL at a time of growing scrutiny for the league in Washington.

In a unanimous 5-0 vote, the commission eliminated the decades-old regulation, which prevents cable and satellite TV from airing games that are blacked out locally when the team fails to sell enough tickets to fill its stadium. The NFL has defended the rule as a tool to ensure robust attendance, but a growing number of regulators and lawmakers say it unfairly punishes football fans.

“It’s a simple fact, the federal government should not be party to sports teams keeping their fans from viewing the games — period,” said Democratic FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “For 40 years these teams have hidden behind a rule of the FCC. No more. Everyone needs to be aware of who allows blackouts to exist, and it is not the Federal Communications Commission.”

FCC sacks NFL blackout rule

Deterring Hedge Fund Activism

Ackman

We propose the use of what we term a “window-closing” poison pill. Such a pill would be triggered by purchases made one day or more after crossing the 5% threshold and before filing a Schedule 13D. But, to give balance to this defensive tactic and make it judicially acceptable, we would allow the acquirer to purchase up to 15% (or potentially higher in the case of a Schedule 13G filer) so long as these purchases were made after the Schedule 13D filing. Effectively, this “closes” the ten-day window under Section 13(d)(1) of the Williams Act without regulatory action, but it is not “preclusive” in any sense (and thus should not offend Delaware judges who appear increasingly sensitive to poison pills with low thresholds).

We do not suggest that this approach will preclude “wolf packs” or aggressive activism by hedge funds, but it is a feasible step towards greater transparency and less exploitation of asymmetric information. To be sure, firms that adopt such a novel pill will face challenges in court and a hostile reaction from their proxy advisors. But, in an era of rampant activism, that is the choice that has to be faced: to do nothing (hoping that activist funds do not appear on your doorstep) or adopt a “standing” pill with a feature that constrains them moderately.

Hedge Fund Activism: Impacts and Options

State Law And Company Law

Brandon Coats

Pot may be legal in Colorado, but you can still be fired for using it.

Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic medical marijuana patient who was fired by the Dish Network after failing a drug test more than four years ago, says he still can’t find steady work because employers are wary of his off-duty smoking.

In a case being closely watched around the country, Colorado’s Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments in Coats’ case, which could have big implications for pot smokers in the first state to legalize recreational sales of the drug. The case highlights the clash between state laws that are increasingly accepting of marijuana use and employers’ drug-free policies that won’t tolerate it.

COLORADO HIGH COURT CONSIDERS POT FIRING CASE

Japan’s Plan For The World’s Fastest Train

Train

Work starts this fiscal year on the magnetic levitation train link between Tokyo and Nagoya, which will run at 500 kilometers (311 miles) per hour.

The maglev will more than halve travel time between Tokyo and Nagoya, Japan’s third-largest city, to 40 minutes for the 286-kilometer journey when it opens in 2027. The line uses magnetic power to propel trains that float above the ground, traveling at almost double the 270 kph of current bullet trains between the two cities.

To make the line straight enough for that speed, the company has to dig 248 kilometers of tunnels, or almost five times the length of Europe’s 50-kilometer Channel Tunnel.

World’s Fastest Train Plan Boosted as Risk Drops: Japan Credit

The Air Traffic Controller For The U.S. Phone System

Surveillance

An obscure federal contract for a company charged with routing millions of phone calls and text messages in the United States has prompted an unusual lobbying battle in which intelligence officials are arguing that the nation’s surveillance secrets could be at risk.

The contractor that wins the bid would essentially act as the air traffic controller for the nation’s phone system, which is run by private companies but is essentially overseen by the government.

And with a European-based company now favored for the job, some current and former intelligence officials — who normally stay out of the business of awarding federal contracts — say they are concerned that the government’s ability to trace reams of phone data used in terrorism and law enforcement investigations could be hindered.

Spy Agencies Urge Caution on Phone Deal