Martin front and center?


The center we’re thinking about is the one in the center of a dart board commonly called a bullseye. FCC Chairman has an Open Meeting agenda on sunshine notice which promises a little something to deplore no matter where one stands on the watchdog-legislator-stakeholder continuum. No matter what happens, it’ll won’t go far enough, or it’ll go too far.

Today’s meeting will likely feature a vote on Martin’s proposal to eliminate cross-ownership restrictions in the top 20 markets. Beyond that, other items on the docket include: * minority/female/SDB media ownership; * a look at localism with the strong possibility of new measures aimed at broadcast programming and reporting requirements; * and national ownership caps for cable MSOs.

Martin resisted direct calls from senators at last week’s Commerce Committee FCC oversight hearing to postpone the vote, citing his belief that there is no possibility of building a political consensus on the cross-ownership issue.

Enactment of a Byron Dorgan (D-ND)-Trent Lott (R-MS) bill to delay today’s vote appears to be tardy, but Dorgan may well bring back his Resolution of Disapproval tactic for a return engagement, this time without Dennis Hastert (R-IL) nor Tom DeLay (R-TX) available to kill it in the House. And past and present Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry (D-MA) and Barack Obama (D-IL) have promised to put legislation in place to deny the funding necessary to implement the easing of cross-ownership restrictions if, as expected, Martin gets his 3-2 party-line victory.

RBR/TVBR observation: This meeting is almost a mortal lock to produce howls of protest from all corners of the debate, a flurry of legislative activity and a visit to the nation’s judiciary system. As such, if you have any plans that hinge on any of the issues before the Commission today, we’d write them down in pencil for the time being.