These are the media news headlines as read on the 11-19-04 edition of mediageek. The headlines include these stories: Patrick Thompson Receives Continuance on Eavesdropping Charge, Adelsteins Surprise Renomination to the FCC, Lott Lays In to Public Broadcasting, McCain says no quick action on indecency or DTV.
Patrick Thompson Receives Continuance on Eavesdropping Charge
This year two Champaign men were arrested and charged with criminal eavesdropping for videotaping police performing traffic stops and street patrols in Champaigns north end and campustown. After tremendous pressure from community activists and the Champaign City Manager and Chief of Police, Champaign County States Attorney John Piland dropped charges against one of the men, Martel Miller, in late Septmeber. But the other man, Patrick Thompson, still faces eavesdropping charges, in addition to other unrelated felony charges.
A pre-trial hearing on Thompsons eavesdropping charge was held on Thursday, Nov. 18, where his attorney filed for and received a continuance on the trial until Dec. 6.
By that date current States Attorney, Republican John Piland will be out, to be replaced by incoming States Attorney, Democrat Julia Reitz, who soundly defeated Piland on Nov. 4.
Community outrage over the eavesdropping case is partially responsible for Pilands defeat, and there is hope that Thompsons case may be handled differently, or dropped altogether, under Reitzs watch.
Adelsteins Surprise Renomination to the FCC
In a surprise turn of events, Democratic FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein has been renominated to the Commission by President Bush. As early as last week, it was widely believed that Adelstein, who has been an outspoken proponent of media reform issues, had very little chance of being reupped. This was due primarily to the defeat of Sen. Tom Daschle who was Adelsteins former boss and his chief supporter in Congress.
Adelstein was first nominated to the FCC in 2002 to fill out the last six months of the term of a commissioner who left the FCC. Since the end of that term, Adelsteins reappointment has been held up for nearly two years by Senate Republicans as retribution for Democrats filibusters against a few of the Presidents judicial nominees, and as a bargaining chip over other nominations.
Adelstein appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday, Nov. 18, where former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott apologized to Adelstein for the delays. Under questioning by committee chairman Sen. John McCain, Adelstein said that he hopes the FCC will conduct a more thorough review of the media landscape now that an appeals court has remanded the agency’s media-ownership limits. He also pledged his desire to hold more public hearings, conduct more studies and work more closely with Congress on the issue.
Adelsteins nomination to the FCC was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee and now moves to the full Senate where it is expected to pass.
Lott Lays In to Public Broadcasting
Although he apologized to FCC Commissioner Johathan Adelstein, Trent Lott was not so easy on three nominees to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting who also appeared in front of the Senate Commerce Committee on Nov. 18. The CPB is a congressionally financed independent corporation that provides funding for public radio and television.
Lott spoke out against what he sees as a liberal bias on public radio and television stations, but also said he doesn’t think stations that use taxpayer dollars should espouse specific viewpoints, whether they’re conservative or liberal.
Nominee Gay Hart Gaines, up for her first full term after accepting a recess appointment in December, stated that she shares Lott’s concerns. She told the committee,”I care a lot about objectivity and balance. I feel that the entire board is very diverse and cares a lot about substance and objectivity.”
No word yet on what this means for Tucker Carlson, the right-wing pundit on CNNs Crossfire, who also has his own show on PBS.
McCain says no quick action on indecency or DTV
After the Senate Commerce Committee adjourned, Committee Chair John McCain told reporters that Congress is unlikely to act on broadcast indecency or the digital television transition before this session ends. With regard to indecency legislation, McCain said that too many lawmakers want to add controversial provisions to a bill that would raise fines for violations and require the FCC to take the violations into account when renewing TV and radio licenses. These provisions would get in the way of quick passage.
On the issue of the transition to Digital TV, McCain said: Its too big an issue with the American people. Congress will pass a non-binding resolution stating when lawmakers want TV stations to complete the switch to Digital TV and return their old analog channels to the government, he predicted. The date of the proposed deadline was still under negotiation.