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D.C. Report; Cook out of FCC chair race

Toni Cook officially took her name out of the running for the position of FCC chairman Wednesday.

Cook, the senior counsel to Senate communications subcommittee chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) said she will be returning to Inouye’s staff upon completion of her maternity leave.

The withdrawal throws the FCC chair race wide open. Among those likely to be considered are D.C. lawyer Reed Hundt; David Leach, a top aide to House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.); current FCC commissioner Ervin Duggan; and D.C. lawyer Tom Casey.

Clinton also must fill the post vacated by Sherrie Marshall. Two names have been prominently discussed for the seat: Gina Keeney, an aide to Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.); and Maine broadcaster Bruce McGorrill.

Cook also stated that she now prefers to be called Toni Bush. She is married to New York businessman Dwight Bush.

Interim FCC chairman James Quello Wednesday called for cooperation from the cable industry in implementing cable reregulation, and he warned of serious consequences if cablers flood the FCC with frivolous complaints in coming months.

Quello delivered his remarks before a Washington Metropolitan Cable Club luncheon.

Cable operators are facing the prospect of rolling back rates by as much as 15% nationwide as a result of the FCC’s interpretation of reregulation legislation.

Though Quello said cablers have the legal right to challenge the FCC rules, he warned against a united industry effort to swamp the commission with “cost of service” case requests. “Such a strategy would force a commission response, if not a congressional one,” said Quello. “I hope it won’t come to that, for it would mean the industry and the commission would both lose.”

Representatives of the high definition TV “grand alliance” will testify today before Rep. Ed Markey’s (D-Mass.) House telecommunications subcommittee.

Markey called the hearing after competitors in the race to become the U.S. HDTV standard agreed this week to unite behind a cooperative effort to develop a single standard. Witnesses at the hearing will be asked to discuss how a united HDTV effort will effect U.S. job creation and whether HDTV sets will be “interoperable” with computers.

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