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Kevin J. Martin

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Kevin J. Martin, of North Carolina, is the Chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He was first confirmed as an FCC Commissioner on May 25, 2001, and was sworn in July 3, 2001, during George Walker Bush's first administration. On April 25, 2006, Bush nominated Martin to a second five-year term on the FCC, expiring on June 30, 2011. Martin became the FCC's Chairman upon his appointment. [1]

In January 2009, Martin announced that he would step down from the FCC and join the Aspen Institute, as a senior fellow in the think tank's Communications and Society Program. [1]

On regulation

"A robust competitive marketplace is the best regulator and protector of public interest," Martin told the audience at a March 2007 event at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina. "But that doesn't mean that government doesn't have an important role to play. It sets up a regulatory environment that promotes investment and competition." [2]

Martin "has privately questioned recent Congressional testimony" by Sirius Satellite Radio chief executive Mel Karmazin, reported the New York Times in March 2007. Karmazin had claimed that "prices would not be raised and that listeners would benefit enormously by getting the best programming from both companies," if his company's proposed $13 billion merger with XM Satellite Radio were allowed to proceed. Martin told the New York Times, "The commission will need to determine the benefits to consumers of this deal, and in doing that, we will need to carefully look at what price will be frozen and what consumers will be getting for that price." [3]

In May 2007, the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) reported that Martin's former boss, Charles Helein of The Helein Law Group, met with Martin to lobby against the proposed XM-Sirius satellite radio merger. Helein was representing U.S. Electronics, "a New York-based satellite radio manufacturer that has filed suit against Sirius," reported CPI. The meeting was described in FCC documents as Helein's explanation of U.S. Electronic's "opposition to and concerns about the proposed XM-Sirius merger and its likely adverse impact on consumers of satellite radio services." [4]

Controversy

In October 2007, Chairman Martin proposed an advanced timetable for amending FCC regulations on media consolidation. Like his predecessor, Michael Powell, Martin's plan would relax "the decades-old media ownership rules, including repealing a rule that forbids a company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city."[5] Legislators and media policy activists also faulted the speed with which Martin wants to enact his proposals and the lack of opportunities for accepting public and Congressional input on the matter.

In early 2008, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee launched an investigation of the FCC and Martin's leadership of the agency. In addition to looking at "FCC regulatory procedures to determine if they are being conducted in a fair, open, efficient, and transparent manner," the investigation will "address a growing number of allegations received by the committee relating to management practices that may adversely affect the agency's operation," stated a letter from the committee. According to Reuters, one reason for the inquiry into Martin's leadership was that he had been "sharply criticized by lawmakers from both political parties for insisting that the agency hold a vote to change media ownership restrictions, particularly heading into the final full year of the Bush administration." [2]

Background

Martin, a Republican born in Charlotte, N.C., was selected March 16, 2005, by President Bush as FCC Chairman to replace Michael Powell, who announced in January 2005 that he was leaving the top post. "Because he already is a member of the FCC, Martin's promotion, which had been widely expected, does not need to be confirmed by the Senate." [6]

"Kevin Martin, was one of the first national Bush-Cheney people to arrive in Miami from Washington, on Nov. 8, 2000. He had been a deputy general counsel for the Bush campaign and before that worked for Ken Starr, the independent counsel in the Monica Lewinsky affair." [7] [8]

Martin previously worked in the Office of the Independent Counsel, at the law and lobby firm Wiley, Rein, & Fielding, and advised former FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth. [9]

Martin is married to Cathie Martin, former communications director for Vice President Dick Cheney and currently a member of President George W. Bush's communications staff. [10]

Affiliations

  • Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy
  • Bush-Cheney Transition Team
  • Deputy General Counsel for the Bush campaign
  • Advisor to FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth
  • Office of the Independent Counsel
  • Associate at Washington, DC law firm Wiley, Rein, & Fielding
  • Judicial clerk, U.S. District Court Judge William M. Hoeveler, Miami, FL
  • Member, Florida Bar Association
  • Member, District of Columbia Bar Association
  • Member, Federal Communications Bar Association

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. "FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to join Aspen Institute," Associated Press, January 15, 2009.
  2. Julie Vorman, "House panel launches probe of FCC practices," Reuters, January 8, 2008.

External resources

External articles