Martin on the Inside the Beltway off-ramp?


A new look at the immediate future of the FCC suggests that no matter who prevails next Tuesday, Barack Obama or John McCain, current FCC Chairman Kevin Martin may have a one-way ticket back to North Carolina. If Obama wins, it will be due to the natural results of a change of party control of all federal agencies. If McCain is in the Oval Office, however, it is still believed likely that it will be time for Martin to make sure his resume is in order. The study comes from Hollywood rag Variety.

The yin and yang for broadcasting issues in Washington often hinges on whether one supports or opposes more regulation. This question often can not be answered simply by checking whether a person with a say in any such matter has a D or an R following their name, although the Rs are decidedly less enamored of regulation than are Ds as a general rule. However, despite McCain’s oft-stated belief in deregulation, when it comes to broadcasters he has often favored stiffening requirements. Obama has criticized media consolidation and the lack of diversity of ownership of broadcast licenses.

Both candidates have former FCC Commissioners offering advice. In Obama’s case that individual is Reed Hundt, and in McCain’s it is Michael Powell (who unlike his famous father has not crossed party lines to endorse Obama’s candidacy). According to Variety, neither McCain nor Powell has a particularly good relationship with Martin, which is why he is considered as good as gone regardless of who wins next week.

RBR/TVBR observation: What’s interesting about the Variety article is that it mentions no sitting commissioners as candidates for the chair. But we’ve seen these early articles every four years, and they’re always pure speculation in the absence of an obvious successor already on the 8th Floor. The presence in the background of Hundt and Powell is intriguing, though. Since Obama or McCain will have a lot of other things on their minds upon taking office, the ex- with entrée to the White House may have a lot to say about who ends up at the FCC.