The U.S. Senate has confirmed Jonathan Adelstein to a commissioner’s seat on the Federal Communications Commission board, 13 months after Commissioner Gloria Tristani resigned. President Bush is expected to approve his confirmation shortly.
Adelstein will serve the remainder of Tristani’s term, which expires June 30, 2002. Adelstein is seen as an ally of Commissioner Michael J. Copps. Copps recently announced that he would hold his own field hearings on media ownership rule changes if Chairman Michael Powell won’t. Thus far, the Media Bureau has indicated that none are currently scheduled.
Copps said that there is interest in the ownership issue wherever he goes, and that the subject is not just an “inside the beltway” issue.
The FCC's approval of the AT&T/Comcast merger November 13 is a sign of the inclination of the majority of the commission. (See Beyond The Headlines: Comcast and AT&T Broadband deal gets FCC's blessing) The commission stated that the merger was likely to spur new investments and create synergies and efficiencies that will result in significant cost savings that might have a positive impact on the deployment of broadband services.
A telling endorsement of where Adelstein might fall on media consolidation came from the Pittsburgh-based American Cable Association, a trade group that represents smaller, rural independent cable operators. The company endorsed Adelstien’s appointment. Another sign that media consolidation issues might occupy a lot of the commission’s time in the next few months came from EchoStar Chairman Charlie Ergen, who said he would have to raise rates if the EchoStar/DirecTV merger is not allowed, especially in light of the AT&T/Comcast merger (See Beyond The Headlines: Mergerless EchoStar may mean rate increase).
For more information visit www.fcc.gov.