Margita White, 65, a White House press official under Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford and commissioner with the Federal Communications Commission who became president of a lobbying group for new television technologies, died of cancer Nov. 20 at Virginia Hospital Center-Arlington. She lived in Washington.
From 1988 to 2001, she was president of what is now the Association for Maximum Service Television, which was the chief advocate for high-definition television. She worked to convey the virtues of high-definition, namely a clearer picture, and overcome arguments that television stations would have to spend millions on new transmission equipment.
In 1997, the FCC approved legislation requiring television stations to transmit in a digital format, and about 50 percent of the stations have done so to date, said Victor Tawil, senior vice president of the trade group.
She was a 2001 recipient of the National Association of Broadcasters's "Spirit of Broadcasting" award for general excellence and lasting contributions to the broadcast industry.
Mrs. White was born Ulla Margareta Eklund in Sweden and grew up in Southern California. She always used the name Margita.
She was a 1959 magna cum laude government graduate of the University of Redlands in California. In 1960, she received a master's degree in political science from Rutgers University in New Jersey.
She was a researcher and press official in the 1960s for such Republican Party leaders as Nixon and Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.). She was fond of saying that over six years, she worked for seven elected officials and lost in eight election campaigns.
When Nixon became president in 1969, she was named assistant to White House communications director Herbert G. Klein.
After two years as the U.S. Information Agency's assistant director of public information, Ford appointed her director of the White House communications office, succeeding Gerald Warren in 1975.
Ford nominated her to the FCC in 1976.
Leaving government service in 1979, she began a career on the boards of International Telephone & Telegraph and Taft Broadcasting Co. She also was a director and vice chairwoman of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Inc.
She was a founding member of Executive Women in Government, a professional organization of federal female workers, and her other memberships included the Washington chapter of the International Women's Forum.
Her marriage to Stuart C. White ended in divorce.
Survivors include two children, Suzanne M. Morgan of Medford, N.J., and Stuart C. White Jr. of Voorhees, N.J.; a sister; a brother; and two granddaughters.