Incoming Lawmakers Lean on Outgoing FCC Chairman

16 December 2008

WASHINGTON, DC: Seen by his opponents as Nipper to George W Bush's phonograph, outgoing Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin J Martin has had his knuckles well and truly rapped.

The rappers, Senator John Rockefeller and Representative Henry Waxman, are the incoming Democrat politicians who will oversee the FCC's activities, as respective chairmen of the Senate and House oversight committees after the inauguration of president-elect Obama on January 20. 

The duo wrote Martin, reportedly intent on shoehorning through controversial legislation before vacating the FCC chair, 'asking' him to postpone any decision on a proposal to barter airwaves in return for a scheme that would provide free (but censored) internet access to 95% of the US population.

Even the White house's current incumbernt is said to be opposed to the move which would have imposed questionable (and possibly unlawful) conditions on the winners of the spectrum auctions.

Martin promptly canceled the meeting, slated for Thursday.

Likewise canceled was another fast-track decision to implement a plan, strenuously challenged by the cable industry, that would have advantaged TV networks in negotiations as to how they are carried by cable providers.

Had either measure been approved by the five-strong Commission on the virtual eve of a regime change, it almost certainly would have been challenged, either in court or via the FCC's internal review process.

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