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fcclogo NEWS

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov
TTY: 202/418-2555

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

January 12, 2000
Rosemary Kimball at (202) 418-0511


Washington, DC -- In response to unprecedented consolidation in the telecommunications industry, FCC Chairman William Kennard directed FCC General Counsel Christopher Wright to assess the Commission's merger review process. Wright was tasked with the challenge of how to facilitate the review of major transactions while ensuring that the public interest is met in an era of consolidation and convergence. In response to Kennard's challenge, Wright and staff have been working on a timetable to ensure that even the most complex transactions are processed in 180 days and that internal procedures are uniform and transparent across the Agency. This team is developing internal procedures to streamline and accelerate the Commission's merger review process while ensuring consistent public interest analysis. These procedures will ensure that applicants know what is expected of them, what will happen when, and the current status of their application.

To spearhead this effort, Jim Bird joined the Commission on December 1 as Senior Counsel in the Office of General Counsel. Mr. Bird spent the last 20 years at Shea & Gardner, where he handled a wide variety regulatory matters. Before that, he served as a law clerk to Judge Skelley Wright on the D.C. Circuit and Justice William Brennan of the United States Supreme Court. Chairman Kennard commented: "Jim Bird is a terrific addition to our team. His breadth of experience and extraordinary legal talent provide just what we need to coordinate and expedite our handling of the applications accompanying the unprecedented wave of mergers in the communications field."

Mr. Bird and Mr. Wright are meeting with the Federal Communications Bar to discuss the timeline and other important issues relating to the Commission's handling of the applications with the Federal Communications Bar. In addition, an open meeting will be held so that all interested parties, such as industry and consumer groups, can provide input on these streamlined procedures. Date and time will be announced shortly in a public notice.

Implementation is already underway. Mr. Bird and Mr. Wright have begun working closely with other Commission staff on pending applications to ensure timely and consistent review. A team is being established to work with the bureaus and to ensure consistent analysis of major transactions in a timely fashion. In addition to Mr. Bird, the team will consist of four other lawyers, an economist, and two support staff. Announcements for these positions have been posted, and potential applicants should consult the Commission's website promptly.

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Office of General Counsel contact: Christopher Wright at (202) 418-1700