Rep. W.J. “Billy” Tauzin (La.), a Republican in the House of Representatives and major overseer of broadcasting issues, has announced that he will not seek re-election when his 12th term expires at the end of this year. He also resigned his chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee effective Feb. 16.
Tauzin, 60, was hospitalized twice in recent months for health problems, including a bleeding ulcer. “Leaving will not be easy, but I believe this year is the right time for me and my family,” Tauzin wrote in his resignation letter. “My recent time spent at Bethesda Naval Hospital has reminded me of how precious time and life are and how dear family and friends are.”
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) is seen as a likely successor to take over Tauzin’s chairmanship.
A Democrat until he switched parties in 1995, Tauzin was expected to succeed Jack Valenti as president of the Motion Picture Association of America but turned down the job—and its more than $1 million salary—late last month.
Tauzin was an advocate of setting a hard deadline for the end of the transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting, arguing that stations should not be allowed to keep both their analog and digital spectrum past 2006. He was unsuccessful in achieving his goal, as members of the FCC have stated publicly that, while the transition is moving along, the date for analog shutoff might not be realistic.