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Media Watchers Speculate About Obama’s Impact

Expect emphasis on tighter FCC regulation and opposition to consolidation

What will the election of Barack Obama and the addition of more Democrats to Congress mean for broadcasters?

Here’s a sampling of comment on this and related questions.

Obama has made statements in the past about stricter FCC regulation. He also wrote in 2007 about the importance of “ensuring that we have an open media market that represents all of the voices in our diverse nation,” in a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. “The FCC must meet its obligations to our country’s minority communities and not special interests by ensuring that broadcasters are doing right by the communities they operate in before it considers loosening media ownership regulations.” He also has pushed the FCC to conduct rules changes in a “transparent and inclusive process.” reported this week that Obama “will try to use his office to hinder media concentration and to increase local TV news coverage, objectives that have stirred resistance from industry groups.” Among other things, Obama has said in a technology proposal he would ”reinvigorate” antitrust enforcement.

Advertising Age meanwhile wrote that the first question is “is whether the Federal Communications Commission would reverse the Bush administration’s easing of media ownership rules. Mr. Obama has been exceedingly critical of recent changes to the rules. He questioned whether the FCC acted before sufficiently understanding the impact added consolidation could have on minority media ownership, local programming and local news. Whether he would backtrack is uncertain.” The article looks at the impact on advertising in various niches.’s James Rogers noted Obama’s interest in tech: “From the creation of a chief technology officer to an ambitious electronic medical records plan, he is seeking to renew Washington’s focus on technology.” Who might be named as the first Cabinet-level chief technology officer? Among the names being bandied about is Reed Hundt, former FCC chairman.

Rowan Scarborough on, a conservative Web site, wrote shortly prior to the election that a recent FCC investigation “raises the question of whether a Democrat-controlled Congress and White House next year will investigate — and perhaps criminalize — all sorts of actions taken by the Bush administration.”

Jeffrey J. Gee of the law firm Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth commented in October, as reported here, about the possible implications of an Obama presidency. “The more interesting point for broadcasters, and the media industry in general, is that both candidates actually know what the letters FCC stand for and can probably name more than one FCC commissioner,” Gee wrote at the time.

And Sanjay Talwani, news editor of RW sister publication TV Technology, will appear on C-SPAN’s program “The Communicators” this weekend (Nov. 8th) to discuss broadcast issues and the possible effects of the election on the industry. the half-hour interview program airs Saturdays on C-SPAN at 6:30 p.m. ET and twice on Mondays on C-SPAN2.