July 26, 2005

White House aide said to be top FCC contender

By Jeremy Pelofsky

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House aide Michael Meece has
emerged as a top contender for one of two Republican seats on
the Federal Communications Commission, sources familiar with
the matter said on Tuesday.

Meece is the deputy director of the White House public
liaison office and previously worked as deputy chief of staff
to Don Evans when he was U.S. Commerce Secretary during
President Bush's first term.

Among other names circulating as potential occupants of the
other seat are Deborah Tate, a director on the Tennessee
Regulatory Authority, and Suzanne Terrell, who unsuccessfully
tried to unseat Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in
2002, the sources said.

The sources declined to be identified because of the
sensitive nature of the selection process.

White House spokeswoman Erin Healy declined to comment,
saying the administration does not speculate on the timing of
personnel matters.

Members of the FCC, which regulates telecommunications,
radio, broadcast and pay television services, must be confirmed
by the U.S. Senate. The agency is split 3-2 in favor of the
political party that occupies the White House.

Tate served as chairwoman of the Tennessee regulatory
authority for one year and previously served in various roles
for two Tennessee governors.

Despite Bush campaigning for Terrell in 2002, she lost a
close contest after forcing a runoff with Landrieu, who had
failed to get 50 percent of the votes in the general election.

The FCC has been tied with two Republicans and two
Democrats since March, when Michael Powell stepped down as
chairman. Controversial issues currently require new Chairman
Kevin Martin to convince a Democrat to support them.

The other seat to be filled is held by Republican FCC
Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy, who plans to leave soon.

Industry representatives have been grumbling publicly and
privately about the time it is taking the Bush administration
to name commissioners, expressing concerns that there are
numerous issues that need a full FCC to resolve.

Pending matters at the agency include several large
acquisitions such as Verizon Communications' purchase of MCI
Inc. and the sale of cable operator Adelphia Communications to
Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Inc.

The agency will also have to address rules for high-speed
Internet services, media ownership limits that a federal
appeals court put on hold, and complaints about indecent
material on television and radio.