FCC’s Tristani echoes chair

WASHINGTON — Newly appointed FCC commissioner Gloria Tristani signaled her concern about the recent wave of media consolidation, especially its impact on diversity among the ranks of broadcast owners.

Tristani’s views echo those of Federal Communications Commission chairman William Kennard, who said he is worried that the wave of broadcast mergers could push minorities out of the marketplace.

In her first meeting with reporters, Tristani, who is Hispanic, said “Diversity is not only key, I think it is vital to America.” Speaking of the recent wave of mergers in the broadcast industry, Tristani said, “I don’t think it is a good thing per se.”

But Tristani also noted that she had not studied the issue thoroughly and would reserve final judgment on the issue. The FCC has several ownership issues on the back burner, including proposals to loosen the cap on owning one station in a local market.

Tristani told reporters she generally has a history of being pro-consumer. Before President Clinton appointed her to the FCC, Tristani served as an elected member of New Mexico’s state commission, where she regulated the telecommunications industry. Since broadcasting is not regulated at the state level, Tristani emphasized Monday that she is still learning the ropes.

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