Dueling Commissioners

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This has to be a first. 

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin called a press conference for 1 p.m. Wednesday that forced reporters to stop covering an FCC meetiong in progress in Nashville, at which he was not in attendance,  so he could outline the agenda for the next month’s (Nov. 4) meeting, which is happening on election day.

The Martn FCC has cancelled meetings on short notice, delayed meeting starts by hours, and otherwise played fast and loose with the calendar and people’s time, but asking reporters to choose between the chairman and an FCC quorum is a new one.

The FCC had only three members for its Oct. 15 meeting in Nashville, which turned out to be exclusively on childhood obesity after alll the agenda items were pulled or voted out beforehand. The commissioners were all scheduled to attend an obesity summit at Vanderbilt, which is why the meeting was to be held there.

Tennessee native Deborah Taylor Tate served as acting chair of the meeting, gaveling it to order with a high-heel, which FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell suggested was a first. 

Also absent was Commissioner Michael Copps, who had to attend the funeral of a friend but sent along a videotaped message on the obesity issue, giving a shout-out to some companies for their efforts.

With Martin and Copps absent, Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein would have been acting chair of the Nashville meeting along seniority lines, but Tate got the honor as a native daughter and children’s advocate.

Commissioner Adelstein apologized to low-power TV supporters who made the trip to Nashville thinking the commissioners would be voting on an item to extend must-carry rights to over 500 low-power TV stations. The FCC pulled the item off the agenda Tuesday afternoon, but Adelstein pointed out that was after some of the low-pwoer advocates had already made their plans to attend.

Tate apologized as well, and McDowell called it "shameful" that the low-power folks had been encouraged to come from all over the country and their item was not on the agenda.

McDowell did say that the three commissioners did meet with low-power folks individually.