Telecommunications Industry Has Lavished FCC Commissioners with Millions of Dollars in Travel Gifts

May 22, 2003

The revelations come as the FCC is about adopt new media consolidation rules favorable to industry giants

Federal Communications Commission officials have been showered with nearly $2.8 million in travel and entertainment gifts over the past eight years — and most of those gifts are from the telecommunications and broadcast companies the agency is supposed to regulate.

A new study released today by the Center for Public Integrity found FCC staff members and commissioners accepted more than 2500 trips. Most of them were to convention hot spots, like Las Vegas and New Orleans. Destinations also included San Francisco, London, Aspen, Buenos Aires, the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The National Association of Broadcasters in Washington topped the list of travel sponsors, paying for over 200 trips worth nearly $200,000. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association, came second, and third.

All of the gifts appear to have been legal under government guidelines.

But they raise questions about the FCC’s neutrality. Not one consumer watchdog group has sponsored an FCC trip. And all of this comes as the FCC is poised to overhaul the decades-old rules governing media consolidation on June 2nd. Industry giants are lobbying for the overhaul, which experts say will unleash the largest wave of corporate media mergers the U.S. has ever seen.

  • John Dunbar, project manager of the Center For Public Integrity’s new report on the FCC, Well Connected


"Well Connected: FCC and Industry Maintain Cozy Relationship on Many Levels"