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Ness a lock for FCC

The FCC is a step closer to playing with a full deck following President Clinton’s decision Tuesday to nominate longtime friend and media investment banker Susan Ness to fill the vacant fifth and final FCC seat.

If confirmed by the Senate, Ness, a 45-year-old Democrat, would fill the vacancy created when Ervin Duggan left the Federal Communications Commission to become PBS prez.

White House selection of Ness comes on the heels of Clinton’s recent nomination of Rachelle Chong to fill the vacant Republican seat at the FCC. Senate confirmation of the two women would bring the FCC to its full five-member contingent for the first time since January 1993.

Clinton said in a statement that “as a former communications lender, Susan Ness brings to the FCC valuable perspective. Her extensive experience covers many communications industry sectors, including telecommunications, radio, TV, cable TV, programming and publishing. She will be an excellent addition to this important commission.”

Ness, who could not be reached for comment, is longtime friends with First Lady Hillary Clinton and the president. She is a member of the Renaissance group , a contingent of Clinton pals who powwow each New Year’s weekend at a South Carolina resort.

A member of the Federal Communications Bar Assn., Nessspent nine years in the media lending division at American Security Bank in D.C. In 1992, she worked for the Clinton-Gore campaign in Maryland.

The New Jersey native served as assistant counsel to the House Banking Committee in the mid-1970s. She later founded the Judicial Appointments Project of the National Women’s Political Caucus.

Ness received a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, a law degree from Boston College, and a masters in business administration from the Wharton School at the U. of Pennsylvania. She’s married to Lawrence Schneider, an international trade lawyer, and has two children.

National Assn. of Broadcasters president Eddie Fritts praised the selection of Ness, calling her “an able attorney who is well-qualified for the post. She knows the media business and the issues and will be an asset to the commission.”

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