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Kerry Presses FCC on 60 Minutes Siegelman Blackout

March 5, 2008

The Honorable Kevin J. Martin
Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554

Dear Chairman Martin:

According to recent press reports, on Sunday, February 24th, a segment of “60 Minutes” addressing the conviction of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman failed to air on WHNT-TV in Huntsville, Alabama. Instead of the regularly scheduled segment, viewers were subjected to several minutes of dead air. Following the completion of the segment, the station resumed its broadcast of “60 Minutes” without further incident.

Although the station reportedly blamed the black out on a technical malfunction, questions have been raised as to whether the nature of the content played a role.

I understand that you will be looking into the details of this incident, including the reason for the station’s failure to broadcast this segment. Upon the completion of your inquiry, I ask that you share your findings and conclusions with interested members of the congressional committees of jurisdiction, so that we will know that a complete inquiry has been conducted.

It is a fundamental responsibility of the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that broadcasters fulfill their duties as trustees of the public airwaves. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I will be monitoring this situation closely, and I look forward to the resolution of your inquiry.

Cc:
The Honorable Michael J. Copps, FCC Commissioner
The Honorable Jonathan S. Adelstein, FCC Commissioner
The Honorable Deborah T. Tate, FCC Commissioner
The Honorable Robert M. McDowell, FCC Commissioner