The big event in Washington last week was the visit paid by all five FCC Commissioners to Ed Markey’s Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, with Energy & Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) prominently in attendance. Dingell lectured FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on his bureau management style. Democrats in attendance generally objected to Martin’s intention to eliminate the cross-ownership ban in the top 20 markets; Republicans, on the other hand, said that Martin’s plan didn’t go far enough, and both they and Andrew Levin of Clear Channel (who testified on a second panel) thought it was time once again to raise local ownership caps for radio.
* Meanwhile, the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously waved through a Byron Dorgan (D-ND)/Trent Lott (R-MS) measure which would bring Martin’s plan to a at least a temporary months-long halt before it even comes up for a Portals vote (the Portals in SW Washington is the home of the FCC).
* Tribune, granted temporary waivers to keep broadcast and newspapers together in five markets pending resolution of the issue, sued in the DC Court of Appeals for either a better waiver or repeal of the cross-ownership ban in its entirety.
* A low volume exchange of words, mostly between engineers, is proceeding on the possible repurposing of TV Channel 6 (and perhaps 5 as well) for FM radio uses, including possible use for LPFM, elimination of grandfathered short-spacings, additional NCE station licenses and perhaps new commercial full-power licenses. As you might expect, in general radio engineers support the idea, while the MSTV has weighed in against it.