In Depth

FCC’s Martin Says He’s Not Packing Up Yet

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin is hinting he might stay on at the FCC when the new Obama administration takes over, at least through the Feb. 17 digital TV transition.

Mr. Martin, a Republican, likely would lose his chairmanship position shortly after President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in and either designates one of the commission’s Democrats as chairman or names a new chairman.

Mr. Martin has been expected to depart, but he does have the alternative of staying on as an FCC commissioner.

Asked by reporters today whether he might remain through the transition, Mr. Martin said, “I don’t have any particular plans to be going anywhere yet.” He declined to be any more specific in response to repeated questions from reporters.

Mr. Martin also again defended the FCC’s use of a $355,000 NASCAR sponsorship to promote the digital transition. The FCC’s sponsorship applies to three races.

On Sunday, the car the FCC sponsored, David Gilliland’s Number 38, crashed during one of the three races at the Phoenix International Raceway.

The sponsorship has drawn criticism from the Citizens Against Government Waste and from FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein.

Mr. Martin said today that the crash could actually benefit the FCC because it could have increased attention on the car.

“Except for the car that wins the race, the cars that crash get a lot of attention during the race itself,” he said. “From our perspective, it would be better if he won, but he gets quite a bit of attention. … [T]he cameras focus on it. What we are trying to do is get all the attention on this car. So we appreciate all his efforts to do that.”