Commissioner Adelstein sworn in

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Jonathan Adelstein (pronounced “ADD-dull-steen”), a Democrat, joins Republican Commissioners Kathleen Abernathy, Kevin Martin, Chairman Michael Powell and Democrat Michael Copps on the FCC. Although the White House nominated Adelstein for the position in November 2001, he sat in the wings for a year waiting for Congress to confirm his nomination, which occurred in November 2002. The 40-year-old former senior legislative aide and history professor was sworn in on Dec. 3, 2002. He will complete the term of departed Commissioner Gloria Tristani, which expires June 30 of this year. It is assumed that he will then be reappointed for a full term.

Adelstein made his debut speech as a Commissioner at the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit 2003 in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6. He accompanied R&B legend Lester Chambers on the harmonica and, as a musician and a Commissioner, spoke of his soft-spot for community-oriented broadcasters, his cautious approach toward media ownership and his fear of the impact over-consolidation could have on diversity and localism. He also said in a statement on the date of his swearing-in that his goals include enhancing competition and efficiently managing the public spectrum. Additionally, he has emphasized the need for broadcasters to take advantage of technological advances such as broadband, wi-fi, satellite radio and digital cable to take their programming to more people and allow the marketplace of ideas to flourish.

For the seven years immediately preceding his Commission swearing-in, Adelstein was senior legislative aide to Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), who was majority leader of the Senate for much of that time. Unfortunately, since Daschle has not focused his attention on broadcast issues, we do not know where his former aide may stand on broadcast matters. It is noteworthy, though, that Adelstein had the strong support of the National Association of Broadcasters, whose president said in a published statement that Adelstein has “a firm grasp of broadcasting and telecommunications issues and a “commitment to public service.”

EEO rules in place

The FCC's new EEO rules will become effective March 10, 2003. The new rules require the filing of a number of reports and the routine maintenance of a considerable number of records concerning recruitment efforts. In particular, a broadcast station must file a Broadcast Equal Employment Opportunity Program Report (FCC Form 396) with its renewal application. And annually on the anniversary date of its renewal application deadline, the station must place in its public file — and on its website, if it has one — an EEO public file report.

Spring thaw for MX applications?

There appears to be a proposal before the Commissioners to resolve the issue that has brought processing of mutually exclusive applications between commercial and noncommercial applicants to a screeching halt. No sooner had the FCC started to implement its auction processes for broadcast permits than the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. slammed the door on those processes, as long as they contemplated that noncommercial applicants might have to participate in auctions. The court found that the FCC could not force noncommercial applicants to participate in auctions, even when the facilities up for bidding are commercial licenses. The Media Bureau staff has presented to the full Commission a draft, which, if adopted, could end the freeze and start applications moving through the process again.

On a different topic, the Commission has launched a simplified version of its Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). The new ECFS Express is supposedly easy to use, requiring minimal input from consumers. It's participation made easy. The Commission hopes the new system will make the rulemaking process accessible to anyone with a computer.

This initiative is a part of the Commission's on-going efforts to make its processes available to the public.

Martin is an attorney with Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, PLC., Arlington, VA. E-mail


April 1 is the deadline for biennial ownership reports for stations in Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas.

Renewal applications are due June 1 for radio stations in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. The Commission plans to make form instructions available on its website before the deadline.

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