Senate OKs Kennard for FCC

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted 99-1 Wednesday to confirm William Kennard as the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

The lone nay vote was cast by Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), who delayed the vote on Kennard for one day to protest the agency’s policy on rural telephone service. The other three new commissioners, Harold Furchtgott-Roth, Gloria Tristani and Michael Powell, were confirmed by the Senate late Tuesday.

Among the issues on the new FCC’s front burner will be the finalization of the digital TV channel assignments and proposals to further deregulate television ownership. However, industry lobbyists are no longer optimistic about further relaxation of ownership rules. Several members of Congress have raised concerns recently about the rise of media mergers in the wake of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The confirmation of four new commissioners marks the largest turnover at the FCC since it was created in 1934. It will be the first time in more than a year that the FCC will have a full complement of five commissioners. The officials will move into their new offices as soon as they complete their swearing-in rites, which they are now arranging.

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