Adelstein still on the warpath over PPM and VNRs

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His time remaining at the FCC is short, but Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein is not coasting – far from it. The DTV transition is keeping him very busy, but he’s also got some other things he wants to get done, including a probe of PPM and dealing with standards for video news releases (VNRs).


After unveiling the FCC’s new, improved, consumer-friendly website for the DTV transition, Adelstein was heading to Albuquerque for another of his numerous local meetings to prepare for the turn-off of analog TV on June 12th. The Albuquerque-Santa Fe market is #1 on the FCC’s hit-list of 49 markets with the highest percentage of consumers unprepared for the DTV transition.

RBR/TVBR caught up with the Commissioner at the NAB Show in Las Vegas and asked what he’s still hoping to get done in his final months at the FCC. The first thing out of his mouth is that he’s still working on concerns about whether Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPM) properly measures radio audiences. The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, the Spanish Radio Association and a number of station owners who serve minority audiences have called for the FCC to get involved and Adelstein has been their strongest backer. Adelstein said he believes the FCC should conduct a “thorough and fair evaluation of PPM.”

The Commissioner also wants action on video news releases and how such material has to be identified when used on the air. Adelstein said the FCC is still considering whether a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is needed on VNRs. Regardless of whether there is a need for new rules, the Commissioner wants the FCC to move forward on dealing with a number of complaints about VNRs and whether they were properly identified by broadcasters under the existing sponsorship ID requirements.

Meanwhile, Adelstein says the biggest issues before the Commission for his final few months are the DTV transition and preparing a required report to Congress on the FCC’s strategy for improving broadband access nationwide. The latter will dovetail nicely with Adelstein’s new job, once he’s confirmed by the US Senate: Administrator for the Rural Utilities Service, United States Department of Agriculture.

“It’s keeping me pretty busy in my final months,” Adelstein said of those big issues at the FCC.

RBR/TVBR observation: We’ve had our differences with Commissioner Adelstein, including differences over the FCC’s authority to investigate PPM and whether the current rules already require all of the disclosure necessary for VNRs, but we are sorry to see him leaving the FCC. He has a deep interest in the issues before him, which cannot be said of many regulators. And we appreciate his passion for music. The Department of Agriculture is getting a good man. Dare we say USDA Grade A?