Commissioner Clyburn getting her arms around radio issues


She’s still very new on the job, but broadcasters got their first introduction to FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn (D) at the NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia.

While she may be new to radio issues, Clyburn noted that she is not new to the media world, having managed a family-owned weekly newspaper in South Carolina for 14 years. “I understand the power of your media,” she said, and the implications of how radio serves local communities. Also, she noted, “I had some great DJ friends.”

The new commissioner reeled off some of the radio issues she is already looking at – HD Radio, LPFM, localism and minority ownership – but did not indicate any particular policy positions as yet on them.

Clyburn did have something to say about the new regime at the FCC. She described herself and her four fellow commissioners as a group of individuals from different backgrounds who generally like each other.

FCC staffers on the “Changing of the Guard” panel at the Radio Show also indicated that there has been real change in how the Commission is being run under new Chairman Julius Genachowski (D) in terms of openness, transparency and having Bureau Chiefs take a lead role in moving on issues. Bill Freedman, Sr. Advisor to Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker (R ) said, “It really is a fresh breeze blowing through the FCC.”

New FCC Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake declared his intention to clear up a backlog of applications and other matters. “I firmly believe we’re paid to make decisions, not put them off,” he said. Asked about acting on the requested power increase for HD Radio, Lake said he wants a decision “sooner rather than later.”

When broadcasters expressed concerns about the pending localism proceeding, which many fear could pile on new regulations and paperwork, Sherrese Smith, Chairman Genachowski’s Legal Advisor for Media, Consumer and Enforcement Issues, said what is most needed is data and information from broadcasters so the FCC can understand just how broadcasters are serving their local communities. “We need more information from you,” agreed Freedman.