Orlando Fills the Hill Bill

John Orlando last week won the nod to be the National Association Broadcasters permanent chief lobbyist and executive vice president.

Orlando has been the acting top lobbyist since Jim May left in February to become chief executive of the Air Transport Association of America. He has taken over with Capitol Hill in the midst of the most intensive legislative battle affecting the industry since the 1996 Telecommunication Act. Orlando will have to deftly work the halls of Congress to reverse deregulation the NAB opposes—the FCC decision to raise the national TV ownership cap—while preserving deregulation it likes, including greater opportunities for broadcasters two own duopolies, triopolies and local newspapers. Critical fights are also likely over digital television and possible efforts to expand low-power radio.

Orlando, 47, joined the NAB from CBS in January 2001 as senior vice president and led the organization's lobbying on digital TV issues.

"John Orlando has repeatedly demonstrated a deft understanding of Capitol Hill and the legislative process," said NAB President Eddie Fritts. "His extensive contacts in the industry and in Washington, along with his ability to effectively communicate the benefits of free, over-the-air broadcasting, make John the ideal choice for this position."

Fritts escaped a potentially politically touchy dilemma when Orlando's main rival dropped out of the race in March. Otherwise, Fritts would have faced a choice between the favored candidate of one of the most important committee chairman overseeing the industry and a current employee backed by many in the industry and the committee's senior Democrat.

David Marventano, previously staff director for House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin, instead became senior vice president of government affairs for California-based Flour Co. Tauzin had been endorsing Marventano as part of the GOP's broad push to get Republicans hired to top lobbying jobs. (For their most recent success, see the RIAA item in Washington Watch, page 21.)

Orlando, a Democrat, had been the favored candidate of his old boss, Rep. John Dingell, the Commerce Committee's ranking Democrat.

Before working for CBS, Orlando was a vice president and principal at Timmons & Co., a Washington lobbying firm.

From 1989 to 1993, Orlando served as chief of staff for the Commerce Committee. Orlando also has directed the panel's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee and Dingell's personal staff.