Microradio: As Pawn and Pain In the Ass

It’s hard to imagine that the FCC in 2007 would end the year with such a thud, but it has. With the promulgation of a rule effectively repealing the ban on newspaper/broadcast station cross-ownership – drafted in the dead of night, formally introduced in a newspaper op-ed, modified without consensus, and approved along partisan lines, with outright disdain for the 99.99% margin of public disapproval of both the practice and policy – Kevin Martin’s FCC has firmly put itself in the political cross-hairs.

A lawsuit to challenge the ruling is in the works, and members of Congress are yelping as their constituents call all pissed off (and rightly so); they’re pondering taking actions ranging from a “resolution of disapproval” of the FCC’s cross-ownership action, to a bill formally repealing the FCC’s decision, to a campaign to scrutinize and overhaul the FCC itself next year. The latter option would definitely be the most interesting to observe – anytime an agency goes into the legislative woodshed for restructuring, it’s going to disrupt business as usual. Regardless, this issue is far from finished, and still has the potential to undertake several dangerous iterations. Read More

The FCC’s Three Ring Circus

That’s what I get for taking a month-long hiatus: the FCC goes all P.T. Barnum on our ass, in hopes of making suckers of us all.

In the center ring is the agency’s proposed changes to media ownership regulations. After hinting that he wished to ram through major changes allowing broad consolidation by the end of the year, and hustling to finish public hearings on the subject over the last month, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin – in a highly unusual move – published his own proposal to modify only the regulation that restricts cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in a single market. Unfortunately, as noted by the minority Commissioners, this proposed change contains loopholes that would effectively do away with the cross-ownership ban, while keeping its regulatory shell on the books. This has irked members of Congress, many of whom are threatening to legislatively intervene if the FCC moves on any media ownership rule changes before the end of the year. Read More

Kevin Martin, Unfunnyman

Sometimes politicians couch the truth in humor. This typically happens when they converge for one of their pat-on-the-back dinners, where they’re surrounded by like-minded friends. Events like the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner come to mind.

In the world of communications policymaking, the hubris-fest happens during the annual dinner of the Federal Communications Bar Association – the cadre of specialized lawyers who grease the Federal Communications Commission’s wheels to keep their clients happy. Headlining this year’s dinner was FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who, by all reports, was quite a crowd-pleaser.

Check some of his jokes, as reported by Broadcasting & Cable: Read More