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Senate Commerce Committee Approves FCC Nominees

WASHINGTON: The Senate Commerce Committee voted to approve Federal Communications Commission nominees Meredith Baker and Mignon Clyburn, moving the agency a step closer towards having a full complement of five commissioners. The approval, which was expected, now sends the nominations to the full Senate, which could vote on the nominees yet this week. Several senators said at last week’s nomination hearing they thought Baker and Clyburn’s nominations would be approved.

Clyburn, a Democrat, is a South Carolina utility commissioner and former newspaper publisher. Baker is a Republican who until January led the DTV converter-box coupon program at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Both nominees were drilled by members of the Commerce Committee last week regarding their philosophy of the Fairness Doctrine, a relic of past broadcast regulations requiring equal time for opposing views. The Fairness Doctrine was abandoned in the mid-1980s and media forms began to proliferate, but there have been discussion over the last year about resurrecting it.

While there’s been no concrete effort to reintroduce the doctrine, opponents have erected blockades just in case. The Senate voted in February to ban the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, though the bill hasn’t been signed into law. President Obama has stated his own opposition to a new Fairness Doctrine. Clyburn and Attweell Baker did so as well.

More TVB coverage of the Fairness Doctrine:
February 13, 2009: “Senate Slips in Fairness Doctrine Prohibition
The Senate has passed a law to ban the resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine requiring broadcasters to provide equal air time for opposing viewpoints. Lawmakers voted Wednesday 87-11 on the ban, tacked as an amendment onto a bill giving D.C. residents representation in the House and Senate.