Bush's FCC Appointee Cranks Up Media Ownership Bulldozer

17 December 2007

WASHINGTON, DC: With some ten months left before collecting his jobless welfare check Kevin J Martin (pictured), the White House-appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, seems determined to bulldoze a controversial vote tomorrow (Tuesday) on diluting America's media ownership restrictions.

Such is his enthusiasm to placate Big Media, that Martin continues to ride roughshod over opposition from a key bipartisan group of senators.

Earlier this month a Senate committee unanimously warned the FCC to slow down its review. While during a hearing last week several senators sharply questioned Martin as to why he is seemingly hell-bent on forcing a vote this week.

"You're about to make a decision with no understandable rationale, against the interests of Congress," accused Massachusetts Democrat Senator John Kerry.

Even Republican senators criticized Martin for attempting to pressurize a vote in the face of bipartisan opposition.

"I don't see why you need to force this thing to a head on [December] 18th," challenged the Republican Senator for Mississippi, Trent Lott. "Why give us an argument to attack you all with?"

Martin, a canny party apparatchik, ducked the questions with a classic non sequitur. "I'm not convinced on media ownership there will ever be consensus," he said. "It's just too politically divisive."

Big Media is equally critical of Martin's intentions. But for a different reason.

Half the hog is not what they want from Martin. The likes of Media General, Gannett Company and Clear Channel Communications are rooting for all ownership barriers to receive the Berlin Wall treatment.

Whether or not Tuesday's vote will be pulled at the last moment is uncertain. Unlike its outcome. Assuming the vote happens, Martin's 'reforms' are expected to be approved 3-2 along party lines.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online. additional content by WARC staff