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Thursday, June 01, 2006

2006: The FCC's Summer of Love?

With the confirmation of Rob McDowell, Chairman Martin now has a full complement of Commissioners (and a Republican majority for the first time since assuming the Chairmanship) and it appears that the Chairman plans to use Commissioner McDowell's honeymoon period to move several very high profile and controversial items that have been simmering on the back burner for a long while.

Among the items rumored to be on what promises to be a very full agenda for the FCC's June 15 meeting are: Media ownership rules (altering the longstanding rules that prohibited a company from owning a television station and a daily newspaper in the same market); Must-carry rules (imposing rules requiring cable operators to carry broadcaster's digital programming signals); and Universal Service rules that mandate that VoIP providers pay USF on 65% of their traffic and increasing the wireless safe harbor from 28.5% to 37.1% of revenues.

Each of these items is independently controversial, but Chairman Martin appears to have calculated that there will never be a better time to address these issues than while Commissioner McDowell is fresh and unscathed by back and forth that would have taken place during even a few months on the Commission.


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