Sen. Hollings to Retire

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Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), a powerful voice in the ongoing national debate
over media consolidation, announced Monday that he would not seek re-election
next year.

Hollings, 81, was first elected in 1966 when Lyndon Johnson was in the White
House.

His departure was not unexpected because recent campaign records revealed
that he had not been raising money for a possible 2004 re-election bid.
Republicans are hoping that they can pick up Hollings’ seat in conservative
South Carolina.

"I want to confirm what you have all suspected -- that I will not be offering
for re-election this next year," Hollings said in Columbia, S.C., Monday
afternoon.

Hollings has supported rules restricting the size of the "Big Four" networks
and separating ownership of TV stations and newspapers in the same market. When
the Federal Communications Commission voted June 2 to relax both rules, he
became a leader in the Senate effort to roll back the decision.

Hollings was chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee in the early 1990s but
lost the post with the Republican takeover after the 1994 elections. He was
chairman again last Congress but had to yield the gavel to Sen. John McCain
(R-Ariz.) after President Bush's stumping helped the GOP to regain Senate
control.

Hollings was one of FCC chairman Michael Powell's harshest critics. At a
hearing, he said that because Powell placed so much faith in the market, he was
better suited to run a chamber of commerce than a regulatory agency.

On telecommunications policy, Hollings supported regulation of the cable
industry but eased up when the direct-broadcast satellite industry demonstrated
its ability to compete. But he was a relentless critic of the Baby Bell phone
companies, calling them sluggish monopolies that should not be deregulated.

Following his retirement announcement, the tributes started flowing.

"Fritz Hollings is a Capitol Hill legend with unquestioned integrity and a
fierce independence that has served his country and his South Carolina
constituents exceedingly well. He's been a friend to free, local broadcasting
for 35 years," National Association of Broadcasters president Edward Fritts said
in a prepared statement.

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