Republicans Request Pre-Meeting With FCC’s Martin

Feb 9, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin is being paged for a sit down pre-briefing with Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s telecom panel before he appears at the committee’s telecom panel on Thursday.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., requested the advance meeting for Tuesday. An aide described the proposed get -together as an attempt to update Republicans, some of whom are new to the panel.

“It has been a few months since Chairman Martin last visited the House. Congressman Upton wanted to provide his members an opportunity to catch up with the chairman and have an open discussion on the issues of most concern to their constituents,” said Sean Bonyun, an Upton aide. “We hope to have similar opportunities with the other Commissioners in the weeks and months ahead.”

The meeting may also be intended to strategize about an expected barrage from Democrats who have been upset with the FCC’s direction on media ownership during Thursday’s telecom panel appearance, the first visit of FCC commissioners since Democrats took charge.

In advance of the hearing, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., and telecom panel chairman U.S. Ed Markey, D-Mass., posed detailed queries to all five commissioners on FCC issues.

Asked about commission priorities, Mr. Martin cited as one a need “to promote real choice for consumers” of cable providers and that those needs mandated a regulatory mode focused on removing impediments to competition.

“This includes making sure that competitive providers have access to ‘must-have’ programming that is vertically integrated with a cable operator,” he replied.

Mr. Martin said that in examining ownership rule changes, the FCC has to weigh various factors.

“At our public hearings, the commission has heard a consistent concern that there are too few local and diverse voices in the community. Certainly we need to protect localism and diversity in the media. We must balance concerns about too much consolidation and too little choice, however, with appropriate consideration of the changes and innovations that are taking place in the media marketplace.”

Commissioner Robert M. McDowell in his answer said the FCC needs to take further action on indecent and violent programming and noted a draft of a report about violent programming issues is circulating among FCC commissioners. He said that the FCC needs Congressional guidance on how it should handle the violence issue.

(Editor: Grego)