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Dems Won't Wait for Bills To Grill Industry

Look for media-oversight hearings to pop up like crocuses this spring in the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its Telecom Subcommittee. That was the message from House staffers at a panel session at the NAB-sponsored leadership conference.

Johanna Shelton, senior telecom counsel on the full committee, said the committee would hold a series of informational hearings rather than wait for specific legislation.

She ticked off a list of topics including media ownership, and the future of radio, TV, wireless and broadband. High on the list of TV issues is the DTV converter-box program and the need for a consumer education campaign. The panelists agreed on the need for education but disagreed on just how hard the Feb. 17, 2009 hard date for the DTV transition was.

Republican staffers suggested it wasn't moving, while Democrats said that would depend on how educated consumers had become, pointing out that, while the administration would be exiting by that date, their bosses would still be around to take the flak if faced with uneducated and suddenly TV-less consumers.

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.