Capital Watch


NAB's Baumann Stepping Down

Jeff Baumann, head of the National Association of Broadcasters' legal department, announced last Monday that he plans to retire in February. He has been with NAB for more than 20 years.

Baumann joined NAB in January 1984 as senior vice president and general counsel and was promoted to executive vice president, his current post, in 1987. Prior to joining NAB, he was deputy chief of the FCC Mass Media Bureau and also served stints as chief of the FCC Renewal Branch and chief of the Policy and Rules Division.

"Being able to represent broadcasters before the courts, the FCC and other branches of government has been the most satisfying experience of my life," said Baumann. "I will leave NAB with tremendous respect for Eddie Fritts and the entire NAB staff. There is no better trade association in Washington."

Broadcasters "owe Jeff Baumann an enormous debt of gratitude for his years of exemplary service," said NAB President Eddie Fritts. "No CEO could ask for a better counselor."

Nonprofits Offered 500 FMs

Noncommercial broadcasters have until Nov. 21 to apply for almost 500 FM allotments the FCC put up for grabs Tuesday. The allotments are outside the channel band normally reserved for noncommercial operators. Not all of the allotments will necessarily go to noncommercial operators, however.

To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate that no reserved channels are available in their markets and that granting a noncommercial license would provide the first or second noncommercial radio service to at least 10% of the population covered by the station's proposed coverage area. Licenses not granted to noncommercial operators will be auctioned for commercial stations.

It's My Roof

A community association can't stop a condo owner from installing a TV antenna or satellite dish on his or her roof, the FCC said last week.

The Woodmere Townhome Association in Darien, Ill., argued that it could forbid Philip Wojcikewicz from installing a DTV antenna on the roof of his home, an interior unit of a four-townhouse block. The association claimed other residents' access rights and the its obligation to maintain and insure the top of his building made the roof a common area bound by the group's antenna restrictions.

But the FCC said roofs or exterior walls can be restricted only when owners are not granted exclusive or permanent possession. In this case, the property Wojcikewicz owned included the roof. Previous rulings also debunk the notion that access rights of neighbors or other third parties nullify an owner's usage rights, the FCC said. A 1996 FCC rule gives property owners and tenants the right to install DBS dishes on balconies, walls and other property within their exclusive use or control.

Product Placement Gets Knocked

With TiVo-anxious programmers relying increasingly on product placements to prevent viewers from zipping past ads, watchdog group Commercial Alert wants the FCC and FTC to strengthen sponsorship requirements and investigate major networks' "failure to comply" with existing rules. Such shows as Fox's hit American Idol (above), where Coca-Cola's logo and products showed up everywhere, prompted Executive Director Gary Ruskin to argue that TV networks and stations identify product placements as prominently as ads.