BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Obama administration’s new consumer protection agency is holding its first hearing in Alabama on payday lending, an industry that brings in some $7 billion a year in fees nationwide with relatively little federal oversight.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says testimony from the session held Thursday in Birmingham will help guide future regulations. Director Richard Cordray says the bureau recognizes the need for short-term loans, but the lending needs to help consumers, not harm them.

The agency has been in the spotlight because of Republican opposition to its formation and because of President Barack Obama’s use of a recess appointment to install Cordray as director.

The bureau says about 19 million American households now have payday loans. It says lenders take in more than $7 billion annually in fees.

DirectTV, Sunbeam put viewers in dark

MIAMI — DirectTV Inc. and the owner of TV stations in Miami and Boston are in a standoff over fees the satellite provider pays to run broadcast programming. That’s leaving tens of thousands of viewers unable to see shows ranging from “American Idol” to the NFL playoffs.

It’s one of many disputes across the country between cable and satellite companies and local stations over what are known as retransmission fees. The latest dispute is between DirectTV and Sunbeam Television Corp.

In Miami, DirectTV viewers were unable to watch Fox’s premiere of “American Idol” on Wednesday and last weekend’s NFC playoff games.

Sunbeam also owns two stations in Boston.

Online opposition slows anti-piracy bills

WASHINGTON — Five days before a critical vote, several senators are abandoning an anti-piracy bill after an outpouring of online opposition to tinkering with Internet freedoms.

Senate Democratic leaders still plan to vote Tuesday on taking up the bill, and supporters were scrambling to make changes before then to answer critics. But it was questionable whether they had the 60 votes needed.

Half-a-dozen of the 40 original cosponsors of the bill withdrew their support Wednesday amid a one-day protest blackout by Wikipedia and other web giants and a flood of emails to Capitol Hill offices.

When more than 7 million sign a petition on Google saying the Senate bill and its counterpart in the House would censor the Web and impose burdensome regulations on U.S. businesses, lawmakers listen.

Compiled from wire reports

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