Ness to Leave FCC by June 1

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Democratic Federal Communications Commission member Susan Ness, who
entered office in 1994, announced Thursday that she will leave the agency no
later than June 1 to make way for nominees appointed by President Bush.

'Although I do not know when the president will formally nominate or the
Senate will confirm these excellent choices, I believe an orderly transition is
best accomplished by announcing when my time with the commission will end. My
departure will be no later than June 1,' Ness said in a prepared statement.

On April 6, Bush named Republican lawyers Kevin Martin and Kathleen Abernathy
and Democratic trade expert Michael Copps to the FCC to give Republican chairman
Michael Powell a partisan majority to shape his agenda of marketplace
deregulation and agency reform.

If Ness leaves prior to the confirmation of Bush's selections, Powell and
Republican commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth would represent a one-vote
majority over Democratic FCC member Gloria Tristani, with whom Ness has broken
on some key votes in recent months.

'I cannot announce my departure without expressing my deep gratitude to those
who provided me with this opportunity. I am extremely grateful to President
Clinton, Vice President Gore and the members of Congress, as well as to
colleagues and staff with whom I have been fortunate to work,' Ness said.

Earlier this week, Ness abruptly canceled a scheduled
trip to the People's Republic of China, where she was to deliver a speech to a
trade convention. Ness aides said she decided not to go to Shanghai in part
because of her pending departure from the FCC.

'I wish to congratulate my dear colleague, Susan Ness, on her stellar tenure
as FCC commissioner.  She will be sorely missed,' Powell said in a prepared
statement. 

'Commissioner Ness has served this agency and the American people very well
over the past seven years,' he added. 'I personally appreciated her
friendship and professional guidance during the time we have served
together.  I wish Susan the best in her future
endeavors.'

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