McDowell to Vote on Media Ownership

Jun 5, 2006  •  Post A Comment

In one of his first official duties, Robert McDowell, the Federal Communications Commission’s new Republican commissioner, is planning to vote next week on a controversial proceeding to relax agency media ownership restrictions, Dana Brown Shaffer, his press liaison, said Monday.

“He has hit the ground running,” Ms. Shaffer said.

Ms. Shaffer declined comment on what the FCC proposal on media ownership will specifically say. It is expected to be voted by the agency’s five commissioners June 15.

But FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has made clear that he wants to relax rules that currently bar daily newspaper owners from buying radio and TV stations in their markets and limit the number of stations broadcasters can own in their service areas.

Mr. Martin’s deregulatory ambitions have been stymied for more than a year because the agency had been deadlocked politically with two Republicans and two Democrats. The two Democrats oppose deregulation.

Mr. McDowell, who was sworn in as a commissioner last Thursday, gives Mr. Martin his first 3-2 GOP majority at the agency.

Ms. Shaffer’s remark is important because it represents the first public confirmation that Mr. McDowell plans to serve as the tie-breaking vote on the media ownership issue.

Also on Monday, Mr. McDowell announced that he had hired several FCC staffers to serve as his acting legal advisers. They are: Ms. Shaffer, acting legal adviser, wireline issues; Cristina Chou Pauze, acting legal adviser, media issues, and Angela Giancarlo, acting legal adviser on wireless issues.