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FCC is back to biz

Will hold regularly skedded meeting today

There were still fighter jets flying eerily over the skies of the nation’s capital Wednesday, even as the Federal Communications Commission joined the rest of the government in trying to buck up and recover from brutal terrorist attacks.

FCC chair Michael Powell — son of Secretary of State Colin Powell — publicly thanked the TV biz and telecom companies for keeping the anxious country informed and wired. A former Army officer, he stressed that patience is key.

“I am grateful for the tireless and heroic efforts of those in the telecommunications industry who are working hard to keep our most fundamental communications systems — such as telephone service, wireless phone service and television service –operating efficiently under the circumstances,” Powell said.

As proof that he is prepared to get on with life, Powell refused to cancel today’s regularly scheduled FCC meeting, during which two crucial ownership rules will be put on the block for review.

Praise for biz

National Assn. of Broadcasters prexy-CEO Eddie Fritts also praised the TV industry for its role in the unfathomable tragedy that began Tuesday morning as hijacked jetliners smashed one after the other into the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Not long after, a third hijacked jet smashed into the Pentagon across the Potomac River from D.C.

“NAB thanks local radio and television stations for their tireless and outstanding service to listeners and viewers during this unspeakable tragedy,” Fritts said. “We salute those broadcasters who are supporting and sponsoring relief efforts and blood drives in support of victims of these terrorist acts.”

Fritts said the trade org has set up an information clearinghouse that broadcasters can use to coordinate relief efforts.

While Fritts and media/entertainment execs are sure to monitor today’s FCC meeting, it will hardly be business as usual, as Washington looks like a police state.

Large areas around the U.S. Capitol and the White House are barricaded, with high-alert security procedures. Late Wednesday, the Pentagon still burned, spewing smoke across the horizon. National Guard troops, using camouflaged Humvees, have been positioned throughout the city.

Deserted Capitol

Motion Picture Assn. of America prexy Jack Valenti paid a visit to a lawmaker on Capitol Hill. Usually, the Hill is bustling. Not Wednesday, as members of Congress huddled privately for intelligence briefings.

“God, the halls of Congress were deserted. It was like a mortuary,” he said.

Valenti, whose office is less than two blocks from the White House, said it’s critical that normal schedules are resumed. “We have to function,” he said. “Otherwise we encourage whoops of triumph among these terrorists.”

The vast majority of pics distributed by MPAA member companies will open as scheduled Friday, Valenti added.

“People may want to shed this terrible burden of sadness and grief and see a movie,” Valenti said. “That’s precisely what I want to do.”

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