Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Kevin J. Martin endured three hours of aggressive questioning from the Senate Commerce Committee, with lawmakers accusing him of rushing to help big media companies at the expense of the public.
WASHINGTON — Facing growing criticism of his agenda and tactics, a defiant Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, refused senators’ requests Thursday to delay a vote next week on his plan to loosen restrictions on owning a newspaper and broadcast station in the same city. Martin endured three hours of aggressive questioning from the Senate Commerce Committee, with members accusing him of rushing to help big media companies at the public’s expense.
Amid complaints from within the commission and Capitol Hill about a lack of openness at the FCC, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) called for Congress next year to overhaul the agency’s procedures and alter its deregulatory bent.
“I am becoming increasingly concerned that the FCC appears to be more concerned about making sure the policies they advocate serve the needs of the companies that they regulate and their bottom lines rather than the public interest,” Rockefeller said. “We cannot allow this to happen.”
Martin was grilled about pushing the FCC to vote Tuesday on his plan to ease a 32-year-old restriction on the ownership of a newspaper and broadcast station in the same market. Martin wants to lift the so-called cross-ownership ban in the top 20 U.S. markets and allow such combinations in smaller markets if the FCC determines that they would be in the public interest. MORE