Washington

FCC Republicans: Comcast/NBCU Forum Is Staff-Level Event

Free Press urges folks to post Genachowski "Wanted Posters" in Chicago 7/09/2010 02:04:09 PM Eastern

According
to the FCC's agenda for the July 13 Chicago forum on the Comcast/NBCU merger,
Michael Copps is the only commissioner on the program for the event, which is
not an official hearing. The reasons vary, including that the Republican
members were under the impression that it is a Media Bureau staff-level event,
say their top aides.

Meanwhile,
Free Press is trying to turn up the heat to boost attendance.

An aide
to the FCC's senior Republican, Commissioner Robert McDowell, said that she
would be in Chicago as an observer. "We understand this is essentially a
staff-level meeting," said Rosemary Harold, senior legal advisor for media
issues, to B&C, "and I am
going in his place to observe as his representative."

Brad
Gillen, legal advisor for Republican Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, said
that they would be keeping tabs on the forum, but that it was the Media
Bureau's show. "She won't be there because the hearing is being hosted and
presented by the Media Bureau as part of the fact-finding of the merger and we
will be monitoring the proceeding, but the commissioners were not expected to
attend."

FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski will send a video greeting, but not attend. Asked
why, spokeswoman Jen Howard responded, "He will be opening up the workshop
[with a taped greeting] and will be fully briefed on all of the substantive
issues that are discussed." John Flynn, who the chairman brought in to
manage the FCC's vetting of the Comcast/NBCU merger review, will be there.

A staffer
for Commissioner Mignon Clyburn had previously indicated to B&C that she wanted to attend. She
has called on the FCC to hold field hearings on the deal
,
saying it would "force" the commission to "interact and see
up-close how Americans feel about the merger." But acting Chief of Staff
Angela Kronenberg said Friday that Clyburn has a scheduling conflict. The commissioner
is currently traveling in Alaska at the invitation of Senator Mark Begich, who
has invited commissioners to the state to check out its communications
challenges for themselves. "She has been there since Tuesday and is
touring rural telcos and healthcare facilities," said Kronenberg, among
other venues.

FCC Dems
are apparently making sure not to forget the non-contiguous states in their
summer business travels. Genachowski was in Hawaii this week to talk broadband
with Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and talk with broadcasters there, according
to his office, with a brief stop-over at Sun Valley for the media big-wigs
conference.

Kimberly
Marcus, executive director of Rainbow/PUSH in Washington said it was
"unfortunate" that more of the commissioners were not able to be in
attendance. But Rainbow/PUSH understands scheduling conflicts.

Rainbow/PUSH
founder Jesse Jackson was planning on attending the House Communications
Subcommittee hearing (an official hearing in this case) on the deal July 8 in
Chicago, but had a scheduling conflict and sent his son Jonathan to read his
testimony for him. He also has conflicts--a speech to the NAACP, an
international trip next week--that may keep him from the FCC hearing as well,
said Marcus, who adds that Rainbow may send a representative to weigh in during
the two-minutes-apiece public input portion of the FCC's seven-hour Chicago
marathon.

Free
Press, which opposes the deal without strong conditions, is not happy with the
light commissioner turnout for the forum, particularly the chairman's absence.
It is even encouraging Web surfers to post this "wanted poster" with
Genachowski's picture on it

"all over Chicago."

"Put
it up in coffee shops, on school bulletin boards, on lamp posts, and anywhere
else you see fit," says Free Press in an online call to arms. "Just
get it out there. Share it on Facebook and Twitter. Ask your friends to do the
same. Post it on the FCC's Facebook page along with a note saying something
like this: "Chairman Genachowski: the public needs you. Please attend the
FCC hearing on the Comcast-NBC merger in Chicago July 13."

Genachowski's office
had not comment.

September
October