House report slaps FCC's Martin

Remember when Congress launched a review of Federal Communications Commission processes following FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's handling of cable TV industry regulation? It has been about a year since some in Congress first threatened to act and almost a year since the review was launched and then seemingly forgotten amid the presidential election, telco immunity, Net neutrality, Internet privacy and a wave of other issues--only it wasn't forgotten. The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce yesterday issued a report that charged Martin with having an FCC management style that is "heavy-handed, opaque and non-collegial," which he applied to force staffers to write a report reaching his desired conclusions about a la carte cable TV pricing.

The committee also alleged that he ordered FCC staff to use incomplete market data to reach conclusions that would fit his desire for tougher cable TV regulation.

The committee said Martin pressured his staff to rewrite and essentially disagree with a earlier FCC report on a la carte cable TV offerings, telling them via his senior legal advisor that the report had to argue that a la carte pricing would be lower than regular cable pricing. The advisor reportedly wrote in an e-mail: "The report cannot conclude that a la carte would likely raise most cable bills... if that is going to be the conclusion, we need to stop now."

An FCC spokesman said Martin didn't break any laws, rules or procedures, so what is to come of this review, especially with Martin's tenure as FCC chief likely coming to an end soon?

For more:
- Network World has this story

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The House Committee launched its FCC review at the dawn of 2008
Martin came under fire for his cable TV regulatory tactics in late 2007