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B and C Eye

4/22/2001 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Bedfellows

Money has prompted key combatants in the heated 8-VSB/COFDM DTV transmission feud to set aside their differences. Sinclair Broadcast executives still swear COFDM is the only modulation standard that will provide reliable reception. But now that the rest of the industry has sided with 8-VSB, Acrodyne Industries, in which Sinclair owns a 32% interest, has chosen Zenith 8-VSB modulators for its transmission products. And Acrodyne and Zenith are in discussions about further collaboration. "Given our 30-plus-year presence in the U.S. market and the reputation of Zenith as the developer of the 8-VSB transmission standard, we're confident that this relationship will enable us to better serve the digital transmitter requirements of our customers," says Nat Ostroff, Sinclair VP, Acrodyne CEO and vocal 8-VSB critic (below).

Shanghaied

The diplomatic dust-up with China has put FCC Commissioner Susan Ness in a delicate spot. Ness was scheduled to deliver the keynote Wednesday at Shanghai's "Supercom Asia 2001," with travel paid by the U.S. Telecommunications Industry Association and others.

But, following the April 6 designation of new FCC candidates, she decided her time at the commission was too short to justify the trip. State Department and industry officials intervened, however, according to several sources, telling Ness the Chinese could interpret a cancellation as a retaliation for the spy-plane incident. That's not the message U.S. companies want to send as they schmooze for access to the world's second-largest telco market.

But reversing course and making the trip could have put Ness on a diplomatic tightrope because U.S. officials are limiting contacts with Chinese government personnel. By avoiding government ministers at such a high-profile conference, Ness' actions could have been perceived as a snub, sources say.

The solution: Ness most likely will make her speech via videotape or teleconference. Sensitive to suggestions that the China trip would have been a junket, sources say she would have endured a 40-hour flight for two days in Shanghai.

Power points

A trio of top legal guns from Verner Liipfert's Communications Practice Group have penned FCC Lobbying: A Handbook of Insider Tips and Practical Advice. Offering up advice on everything from developing a strategy to requesting a meeting are Erwin Krasnow, David Siddall and Michael Berg. FCC Lobbying includes interviews with past and present commissioners and staffers. It also features a forward from the former occupant of the FCC's center seat, William Kennard. "Even I learned a thing or two from these pages," writes Kennard.

Also on the FCC literary front, former acting FCC Chairman James Quello will be at NAB in Las Vegas this week to sign copies of his new book, My Wars, about his life in the World War II and Washington trenches.

Root, part II

Thomas L. Root, the former Washington broadcast attorney who made national headlines by surviving a 1989 plane crash off the Bahamas and a mysterious gunshot wound, is in trouble again. Root, who was sentenced to prison in 1992 for a radio-licensing scam that bilked investors out of millions, now faces fraud charges in Ohio. He was disbarred after lying to regulators and misusing investors' funds ostensibly raised to apply for and construct new FM radio stations the FCC made available in 1984. He embarked on his bizarre solo flight as the law closed in. Since getting out of prison, Root has been living in Norwalk, Ohio, working as a paralegal. Now he's accused of filing fraudulent financial documents to collect money from the state's Division of Unclaimed Funds and posing as an officer of Mid-Ohio Beverage, a company due $18,707 from the state. Last week, a judge ordered him to stand trial on May 24.

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