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Quello Calls Public Interest Standard a "Relic"

At a Federal Communications Bar Association luncheon Friday in Washington, former Democratic FCC Commissioner and Chairman Jim Quello plans to tell his audience that he believes the public interest standard for broadcasting will be a "relic of a bygone era" within a decade.

Quello says that the scarcity rationale for regulating broadcasters no longer holds in an era of "superabundance," with more on the way. "How can you justify going after one entity," he says, particularly the one providing "the most vital local service to the public."

Quello, the senior member of the former FCC Chairmen gathered for the lunch--the others are now-consultant Michael Powell and communications attorney Dick Wiley--also says that the one thing he would change is the "Sunshine" rules that prevent more than two FCC commissioners from talking in private.

Without the ability for the full commission to discuss issues outside the official meeting times, he says, negotiations shift to legal assistants, which puts far too much responsibility on them.