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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin on Friday chose Corporation for Public Broadcasting Vice President Donna Gregg to be the agency’s Media Bureau chief, making her responsible for rewriting the agency’s controversial limits on media ownership. Gregg replaces Kenneth Ferree, who stepped down in March after Chairman Michael Powell resigned. Gregg joined the CPB in 2002 and was named vice president, legal and regulatory affairs in February. She is responsible for advising the public broadcaster and its directors about legal, public policy, legislative and regulatory matters. Gregg did not return calls seeking comment. Initial reactions to the appointment were positive. “She’s been in the industry for several decades and has seen the issue both in terms of public broadcasting as well as all aspects of broadcasting regulation,” said Andrew Lipman, partner at Swidler Berlin in Washington. “She’s highly respected and highly regarded, and would bring a new dimension to the bureau.” Andrew Schwartzman, president of Washington-based consumer advocacy group Media Access Project, said he was cautiously optimistic about Gregg’s appointment. “She’s a straightforward, competent, solid person and not an ideologue,” he said. Schwartzman called her predecessor, Ferree, an ideologue who ran the bureau on policy objectives rather than sound legal principles. “He was someone that made decisions focusing on political outcome rather than what the record showed,” said Schwartzman. Prior to joining CPB, Gregg was a partner specializing in communications law at the Washington law firm of Wiley Rein & Fielding. Martin worked at the same firm during part of her tenure there. Name partner Richard E. Wiley was a Republican FCC chairman between 1974 and 1977. Gregg inherits a controversial portfolio. In 2003, Ferree and his staff devised a plan to relax media-ownership rules in most cities by expanding the number of television stations a single company could own in a particular market, even if it also owned the market’s biggest newspaper. The FTC adopted the rules, only to see them partially reversed by Congress and finally rejected outright by a federal appeals court. Large media companies, including Viacom Inc. and Media General Inc., appealed the court decision to the Supreme Court. The FCC split when adopting the rules, Powell and the two other Republican commissioners voting for them, the panel’s two Democrats voting against. The rules triggered an outpouring of criticism by consumer and public-interest groups who charged that the agency was catering to media industry lobbyists and exaggerating the impact of the Internet on competition and diversity of opinion. The two Democratic commissioners criticized Powell and Ferree for developing the rules, arguing that they would allow media consolidation that would squelch democratic discourse. But Ferree contended that the rise of the Internet and other media had led to a proliferation of news sources that allowed for a loosening of the rules without threatening competition or compromising diversity. Martin also announced Friday that Roy J. Stewart, former chief of the mass-media bureau, will serve as its senior deputy chief, and that Deborah Klein will serve as deputy chief. Martin is expected to announce his choices for FCC general counsel and head of the agency’s Wireless Bureau by Thursday. Copyright �2005 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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