FCC Chairman Kevin Martin would likely argue that he is not rushing a vote on media ownership rules that have been in limbo for years, but he and others at the FCC must surely be hoping they can wrap up the Oct. 31 localism hearing expeditiously, by early afternoon at the latest, so they can get home to shepherd their various ghoulies, ghosties, long-legged beasties and other candy sack-toting things that go bump in the night. I know others at the FCC are.
FCC meetings have been known to stretch far into the night as commissioners work on statements or votes are lined up forcontentious items, or not lined up as the case may be. But the Halloween meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., a half-hour earlier than the regularly scheduled meetings are supposed to start but rarely do. And the localism portion is scheduled to wrap up by 2 p.m., though that, too, is subject to change without notice if past is prologue.
I have an idea to help speed the process. Have all the commissioners come already dressed in their costumes to save time.
A Harry Potter getup is too easy for the chairman, who has oft been linked to the J. K. Rowling hero, and the ghost of Michael Powell would be to obvious. I think the chairman should could come dressed as the thing he dreads most, a bundle of cable services–with must-have sports programming cut out–forcing its way into an apartment building by brandishing a set-top with unsevered surfing and security functions.
Commissioner Michael Copps should wear a grim reaper costume with a sign that says "Death of the Public Interest Standard," and a big, plastic bony finger to point at the Republican majority.
Commissioner and musician Jonathan Adelstein could show up as blues harmonica great Big Walter Horton (OK, I Googled him,but he seems to be a blues harmonica great), playing the "I Got Those Song-Plugging, Product-Placing, Brand-Integrating, Unidentifed VNR Blues."
Commissioner McDowell could come as a new wireless device unable to communicate with anyone else in the room, or perhaps as a skeleton, representing a program access complaint that has been left to wither and die. Deborah Taylor Tate, a member of the yet-to-be-heard-from obesity task force, could comes as the Invisible Woman. She could hand out bottomless trick-or-treat bags to cut down on the sweets the kids will be ingesting.
Or, perhaps Martin, Tate and McDowell could come in together in a big cardboard box as a violation of the sunshine rule.
The possibilities are endless, but I’ve run out of them. The point is that they need to have their priorities in order, which is to make sure all us parents get home by sundown without looking like they are pushing localism witnesses out the door. It might help to be wearing disguises when that time comes.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.