James Quello and the Broadcast Lobby: A Good Example of the FCC’s Corporate Revolving Door

Former FCC Commissioner and Acting Chairman James Quello has always been a key part of the broadcast lobby’s political support structure. The long-serving (23 years) commissioner made sure his votes aided his profession—broadcasting. Mr. Quello never stops working to help out his media industry brethren—including his latest lobbying missive in this week’s Broadcasting and Cable magazine. Quello urges that broadcasters should be freed from any regulation (what little there’s left, that is, thanks to Quello and others). “Let Broadcasters Be Free,” he proclaims. No rules ensuring diversity of ownership, children’s educational programming, or local accountability are needed. We have the Internet, Quello assure us. Public interest policies can now be jettisoned.

But Mr. Quello neglects to disclose in the piece that he is working at the number one lobbying shop for broadcasters: Wiley, Rein, and Fielding. In his piece, he lists his affiliations as “an independent government relations consultant.” But Quello’s been at the Wiley shop since 2001. The Wiley firm (headed by the former FCC chair and super-lobbyist Dick Wiley) has represented such broadcast heavyweights as Belo, Gannett, National Association of Broadcasters, Time Warner, Clear Channel, and CBS (and many others). Mr. Quello’s op-ed is especially meant for Chairman Kevin Martin and the GOP majority. It’s supposed to convey that a person with such long FCC and industry experience—Mr. Quello—is giving a high sign to Martin’s plan to scuttle media ownership rules.

So Mr. Quello should amend his new article, identifying that he is working at a lobbying/legal shop for the same broadcasters he seeks—as a supposed neutral expert– to help in his piece. It also underscores why the revolving door between industry and the FCC needs to be nailed shut. As long as Commissioners and officials know there’s a golden handshake waiting for them from the very folks they are supposed to oversee at the FCC, we won’t get the kind of public policies the nation deserves.

By the way, here’s Mr. Quello’s webpage at Wiley.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

Leave a Reply