McDowell Offers "State Of The FCC"
December 21, 2007 at 8:06 AM (PT)
KEVIN MARTIN may be the Chairman of the FCC, but a veritable "state of the Commission" address came from a relative newcomer, Commission's ROBERT McDOWELL, during a wide ranging press conference yesterday (THURSDAY, 12/20). In his eyes, the Commission may have sharp differences, but things do get done -- even if Congress disagrees with their decisions.
According to reports in BROADCASTING & CABLE and VARIETY, among others, McDOWELL admitted that the severity of differences between certain Commissioners on specifics issues has created a more tense atmosphere at times."We've had a lot of contentious issues before us, and it's also been a very busy year," he said. "Those things can create tension," but in his 18 months on the job, "this is the only FCC I have ever worked for, so for me this is the status quo ... [the] "vast majority of the time, things work pretty smoothly."
We've had a lot of contentious issues before us ... but vast majority of the time, things work pretty smoothly.
One thing that he thought went smoothly, despite Congressional protests, was the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership debate. McDOWELL asserted that there was enough time devoted for comment and things overall were handled appropriately. Citing a bevy of public meetings and studies, he said, "I thought the Chairman at the meeting did a pretty good job of laying out his responsiveness to process, either suggestions or complaints."
As one of the majority who voted for the cross-ownership change, McDOWELL thought that the decision had "an excellent chance of being sustained by the court" because the changes were "much more modest...I don't sense at all the same political backlash from it as the last go-around."
On the other hand, he declared that he'd "bet the farm" that the court will overturn that reimposition of a cap on cable subscribers -- which he voted against. In other matters:
* McDOWELL offered to work with Congress to analyze and review FCC processes, if that would answer public criticism, but thought that it really wasn't needed since the FCC functions pretty well overall.
* He didn't know why the CLEAR CHANNEL sale hadn't gone though yet: "I prefer to get things done, especially transactional approvals."
* McDOWELL won't form an opinion on the proposed SIRIUS-XM merger until the JUSTICE DEPT. defines the state of the competitive audio market.
* There's a reason why there hasn't been an indecency ruling in 2007: The Commission is waiting to see how its previous decision hold up in court.