FCC anti-liquor ad crusader Reed Hundt is stepping down

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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt, who has led a crusade to get the FCC to curb broadcast ads for liquor products, announced today he intends to leave the commission as soon as a successor is named and wins Senate confirmation.

Mr. Hundt, a Washington lawyer (and Yale Law School classmate of President Clinton), has been chairman of the FCC since late 1993. He used his office to rally opposition to liquor ads on TV and radio after the liquor industry ended its long-standing and self-imposed ban on broadcast advertising. But his calls for the FCC to formally investigate and take action against liquor ads never generated the votes needed among other FCC members. Mr. Hundt, nevertheless, said today that he intends to use his remaining months at FCC to push for commission action on his calls for a formal FCC investigation of alcoholic beverage ads. "I'm not going to wait," he said. "I'm going to see if this stuff can fly."

Mr. Hundt had recently entertained proposals widening his concern about liquor ads to TV advertising for beer and wine as well. Mr. Hundt also advocated redefining broadcasters' public service obligations to require that more time be made available for unpaid public service announcements, and he lent his support to proposals that broadcasters provide more free time for candidates running for federal office.

Mr. Hundt's news follows the nomination by President Clinton last week of FCC General Counsel Bill Kennard, a Democrat, to fill a seat on the five-member FCC now held by Democrat James C. Quello, who is retiring, and Harold Furchtgott-Roth, chief economist for the House Commerce Committee, to fill a presently vacant FCC seat.

Copyright May 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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