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FCC's McDowell Kills at Media Institute Lunch

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell may have parted company with fellow Republican Chairman Kevin Martin over the issue of cable’s market power, but he was winning friends and influencing people at a Media Institute lunch Monday.

His speech was equal parts pep talk for broadcast deregulation, calls for more public input, and humor that had much of his audience in what passes for stitches from top lobbyists and former FCC chairmen.

McDowell poked fun at late arrivals—"Can I get you a salad?"—and at former Chairman Dick Wiley, whom he thanked, tongue in cheek, for presiding over the imposition of the ban on newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership, which the FCC is currently considering lifting, at least in part.

He even pushed the boundaries a bit by have a little sport at the expense of the earnest witnesses at media ownership hearings, pointing out that the commission had been criticized for the Iraq war and even the Peloponnesian Wars—which, he noted, had preceded his tenure at the commission.

McDowell strikes me as the sort of solid, sensible fellow who would do a good job in the center seat if Martin decides to leave early and try the political waters in his native North Carolina.

By John Eggerton