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Commerce Committee to tackle key broadcast issues in 2003

Incoming Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) wasted no time in signaling his interest in several major —and controversial — broadcast industry issues when the new 108th Congress resumes in January.

Among the hot button issues McCain said will be addressed by the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in 2003 are media consolidation, public interest requirements for broadcasters, the digital transition, ownership diversification, cable rates, online and offline consumer privacy, FCC reorganization, spectrum policies, broadband deployment and local competition and consumer uses of digital content.

“The Committee also will assess whether broadcasters are meeting their public interest obligations, including the availability of the lowest unit rate charge in the 2002 elections, and will consider legislation to provide free air-time to political candidates,” McCain said.

McCain, a long-time critic of the U.S. television broadcasting industry and the NAB, their lobbyists, replaces Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) as chairman of the Commerce Committee, the main overseer of broadcasting issues in the U.S. Senate.

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