FCC Commissioners Field Questions At NAB Breakfast
September 21, 2006 at 6:56 AM (PT)
Public service obligations on HD2 channels, competition from unregulated media, and the media ownership rules review were among the topics covered by FCC Commissioners JONATHAN ADELSTEIN and ROBERT McDOWELL at the annual NAB RADIO SHOW FCC Breakfast THURSDAY morning in DALLAS.
Responding to FCC Joint Board Chairman BRUCE REESE's surprise over his reference to public interest requirements on HD2 channels, ADELSTEIN said that public interest obligations "have always been part of it," although the exact nature of what will be required remains unclear. McDOWELL noted that "multicasting is inherently public-interest oriented ... it may flourish without a government mandate." REESE joked that "maybe we can stop running public interest programming on our digital channels until we have to."
I'm a little confused myself, which is probably not a good sign for all of you
The commissioners were noncommittal on what the Commission will do about regulation in the face of new media competition, with ADELSTEIN offering that "we do want to keep the industry healthy" and MCDOWELL adding that "we want to give you all the tools you need in your toolbox to compete effectively."
On media ownership, ADELSTEIN spoke of his experiences at the recent AUSTIN hearing at which local Tejano musicians and fans complained that there is no Tejano-formatted station in the market. "It's a localism question," ADELSTEIN said, "that seems to me a real localism problem ... we need to hear that kind of thing." A UNIVISION engineer later informed ADELSTEIN that one of the company's HD2 channels in the AUSTIN market offers a Tejano format.
The topic of indecency was parried by the commissioners with the remanded cases still pending (McDOWELL joked that "I'll choose my words carefully so I don't have to fine myself"). ADELSTEIN noted in looking at the precedents set by the Commission's rulings that "I'm a little confused myself, which is probably not a good sign for all of you." McDOWELL added that "you basically have 40% of the FCC (here) saying 'I dunno.'"