News Briefs: Robert McDowell Confirmed to FCC Seat

May 29, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The Senate on Friday confirmed the nomination of telecommunications lawyer Robert McDowell to the Federal Communications Commission, ending a two-month delay and handing FCC Chairman Kevin Martin a Republican majority on the panel. The unanimous confirmation fills the fifth seat on the five-member commission and ends any deadlocks created by having the seat open. Until Friday’s confirmation, the panel consisted of two Democrats and two Republicans. Mr. McDowell’s seat expires June 30, 2009. Mr. McDowell was nominated earlier this year, but his confirmation stalled after Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., put a hold on the nomination. Mr. McDowell previously was a lawyer for the telecommunications group Comptel, which represents smaller telephone and Internet companies that compete with telecommunications giants such as Verizon and AT&T.

ABC News Stands by Hastert Story

ABC News said last Thursday it is standing by an exclusive report by chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross that House Speaker Dennis Hastert is under investigation for bribery. The Illinois Republican has demanded a retraction of the story, which he claims is libelous and based on information ABC News knew was inaccurate and that was leaked by the Justice Department in an attempt to intimidate Rep. Hastert. Mr. Ross said in his report Wednesday on “World News Tonight,” “Federal officials tell us the bribery investigation [resulting from the plea agreement of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff] now includes the speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, based on the testimony from convicted lobbyists.” Lawyers for Rep. Hastert wrote a letter to ABC News President David Westin in which they noted that the Justice Department had issued a statement saying it is not investigating the speaker. “ABC News’ continued publication of this false information, after having actual knowledge of its falsity, evidences a specific and malicious intent to injure and damage Speaker Hastert’s reputation,” Rep. Hastert’s lawyers wrote. ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said last Thursday, “Our response to the letter is our reporting on the story.”

Networks, Studios Sue to Halt DVR Service

Several television networks and studios filed a lawsuit last week against Cablevision contending that the cable company’s network DVR service, which is slated to go live next month, violates their copyrights. The plaintiffs are 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, The Walt Disney Co. and the ABC, CBS and NBC networks. They claim in the lawsuit, filed in United States District Court in New York, that the Cablevision service is actually an extension of video-on-demand and thus requires appropriate licenses with copyright holders and are requesting a court injunction to prevent Cablevision from launching the service. The legal battle will be closely watched by the cable industry because industry experts widely expect that VOD will migrate over time to an everything-on-demand model, enabled by network-based DVR capability. In a statement, Cablevision said, “This lawsuit is without merit, reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of Cablevision’s remote-storage DVR and ignores the enormous benefit and well-established right of viewers to time-shift television programming.”

ABC to Premiere Summer Reality Slate

ABC will premiere five new reality shows over the summer, including relationship series “How to Get the Guy.” “Guy” follows four single women who are looking for Mr. Right with the help of “Love Coaches” Teresa Strasser and J.D. Roberto. The series premieres Monday, June 12, at 10 p.m. (ET). “Buy It Now” profiles families that sell items on shopping Web site eBay in hopes of getting enough money together to fulfill a dream. The series will air twice a week, with the first episode showcasing one family and its dream and the second live episode revealing the final few minutes of online bidding. No premiere date has been set. The three other shows scheduled for a summer launch include “Master of Champions,” an hour-long variety competition to determine who is the best performer within a specific extreme category; “One Ocean View,” a reality series that follows a group of young single Manhattan professionals who share a beach house during the summer; and “The One: Making a Music Star,” in which contestants attend a fully functioning music academy that turns aspiring singers into music stars through professional training.