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NAB prexy Fritts makes nice with FCC

National Assn. of Broadcasters prez Eddie Fritts did a bit of fence-mending at the Federal Communications Commission Friday in a bid to smooth damaged relations.

FCC anger at the broadcast trade group stems from a press conference held at NAB headquarters last week in which Consumer Federation of America legislative director Gene Kimmelman was invited to speak.

Kimmelman used the occasion to rip the FCC for delaying cable TV rate rollbacks to consumers, a decision the consumer guru claimed will cost cable subscribers $ 300 million.

Kimmelman charged the FCC with caving in to cable industry pressure, and called the postponement of rate regulation “the most duplicitous action” he’s seen taken by the commission in 12 years.

Though most of the NAB press confab was devoted to an update on must-carry/retransmission consent talks between cable operators and broadcasters , it was Kimmelman’s remarks that ticked off FCC staffers.

“Some people here are steamed,” said one FCC source, who added that much of the anger is directed at the NAB for giving Kimmelman a platform for his attack.

Sources said Fritts had scheduled a trip to the FCC before the Kimmelman flap erupted. However, the NAB prez was said to have devoted much of his attention to smoothing ruffled feathers. Fritts, who was accompanied by NAB general counsel Jeff Baumann, claimed in the meetings they were not told in advance what Kimmelman planned to say, according to an FCC source.

Fritts, through a spokesman, declined comment.

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