Chong seeks FCC delay

WASHINGTON — FCC Commissioner Rachelle Chong formally asked chairman Reed Hundt Thursday to delay a vote to decide if the agency should conduct its own inquiry into liquor advertising on TV.

But in an unusual move, Hundt’s office has not yet agreed to accommodate Chong’s request and did not immediately yank the vote from the agenda for the June 19 meeting. Agency sources say Hundt will eventually reschedule the vote, but wants Chong to explain her rationale.

Chong told Daily Variety Thursday she is seeking the delay because she does not believe the FCC should be holding a hearing on liquor advertising. “It is not part of our general mandate on public interest,” said Chong, who added that regulation of advertising is the Federal Trade Commission’s responsibility. “It’s clearly duplicative for us to get involved.”

She also took issue with Hundt’s proposal to focus only on hard alcohol advertising, since beer and wine regularly spend more than $600 million on TV exposure each year. “I don’t know how you can distinguish the two,” said Chong.

Chong’s views are supported by fellow Commissioner James Quello who also opposes an FCC inquiry. “I believe that the FCC lacks the jurisdiction,” Quello said.

Sources close to Hundt said they were not surprised by Chong’s request to pull the item from the agenda and they already anticipate that Quello will ask for a similar delay next month. Once source predicted a vote on the inquiry will be held in August.

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