Telecom for Dummies

Touring the Media Industrial Complex

Billy Tauzin: Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, this Louisiana Republican is big media's best friend on the Hill. He recently introduced the Tauzin-Dingell bill, which would allow Bell companies like Verizon to give customers only one choice for high-speed Internet access while maintaining a monopoly on local phone service. In his previous job as chair of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee, Tauzin was wined and dined by Murdoch; and in December 1999, Time Warner cosponsored Tauzin and his wife on a $19,000 trip to Paris. His daughter is a former employee of the National Association of Broadcasters and his son is a lobbyist for BellSouth.

Tribune Company: Last year, the Tribune acquired Times Mirror, a deal which gave the company a TV station and a newspaper each in L.A., New York, and Hartford, Connecticut. In July, Tribune exec Jack Fuller lobbied Congress to loosen the cross-ownership rules, arguing that such a move is essential if the industry is to sustain the quality of its news coverage.

Gloria Tristani: A Clinton appointee to the FCC, Tristani plans to resign imminently, though her term does not expire until June 2003. Her departure leaves three Republicans and one Democrat on the FCC, all appointed by Bush, who will now appoint a Democrat to replace her. Of course, not all Democrats are curmudgeons. David Goodfriend, a Clinton-era FCC adviser, has said that only a "pretty cynical" observer would think that going on corporate junkets could bias the agency's decision-making. Wonder how many times he went to Cancun?

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