It is no secret that Kevin Martin’s days as chairman of the FCC are numbered. But he may still be found hanging around the FCC for at least another couple of years. At this point, he has not uttered a peep about his future, immediate or otherwise. He told reporters as much several weeks ago and has said the same thing repeatedly as the question continues to be asked.
At CES, he also strongly supported fixing the converter box coupon program but keeping the DTV deadline intact. There are any number of possible fixes, some of which would involve cash-free rule-tweaking. On the other hand, changing the date would destroy the positive effort put forth by the FCC, broadcasters and other stakeholders to emblazon the day 2/17/09 in peoples’ minds.
And in an interview with ABC Radio, he suggested the broad deregulation of radio ownership rules that was part of Telecom 1996 may have gone too far, and that we’re seeing repercussions. “The broadcasters, their unique asset, really is the fact that they’re providing local news and information to people,” he said. “And if they lose that local feel — then you know, that’s the unique service that they’re providing.” Martin has put new rule proposals into play to promote localism which are still pending at the FCC, and have drawn strong criticism from broadcasters.
RBR/TVBR observation: Martin is right on DTV. As for radio, the biggest radio groups are trying to get smaller, such as Clear Channel and CBS, or seem to be regretting some of acquisitions, most notably Citadel. You know it’s bad if a Republican is noticing that maybe there was a little too much dereg.