US Media Watchdog Prepares for Lawmakers' Probe

10 January 2008

WASHINGTON DC: The Federal Communications Commission and its White House-appointed chairman, Kevin J Martin, are under scrutiny from US lawmakers over management practices.

The Democrat-led House Energy and Commerce Committee is investigating complaints that Martin did not provide enough information to other commissioners and did not allow enough time to consult over major decisions such as the recent relaxation of cross-media ownership rules.

The committee will hold an oversight hearing later this year to probe agency procedures and to check they are "being conducted in a fair, open, efficient and transparent manner".

Martin has been advised to alert all FCC employees that they may be called as witnesses; and that all documentation, including work and personal emails, relating to official work, should be preserved.

  • Meantime, the FCC is to investigate complaints that cable communications giant Comcast actively interferes with web traffic as its subscribers try to share files online.

    The allegations were made late last year by a number of consumer groups and legal scholars.

    Philadelphia-based Comcast denies it blocks file sharing but acknowledges it is "delaying" some of the traffic between computers that share files.

    The company claims the steps are necessary to improve the surfing experience for the majority of its subscribers, allowed under the FCC "reasonable traffic management" rules.

    Evp David Cohen commented: "We look forward to responding to any FCC inquiries regarding our broadband network management."

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