Kevin Martin Takes Over As FCC ChairmanApril 2005 | Mass Media Update
Kevin Martin, 38, a Republican who previously held a seat as one of the FCC's five commissioners, has taken the helm as Chairman. Mr. Martin brings a strong resume and wide-ranging communications law experience to his new position. A North Carolina native (and former student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), he earned a law degree and a master's degree in public policy at Harvard. Following a federal court clerkship, he joined Wiley Rein & Fielding's Communications Practice.
During his three years with WRF, Mr. Martin worked largely for our media clients. His private practice included representing broadcasters and others in FCC rulemakings and appellate court proceedings. In addition, he assisted the firm's Government Affairs Practice in tracking the legislation that became the Telecommunications Act of 1996 -- thereby absorbing detailed knowledge of the law that has served him well since.
In 1997, Mr. Martin went to work with Kenneth Starr at the Office of Independent Counsel. He moved to the Commission shortly thereafter to work as a legal assistant to then-Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth, a Republican appointee under the Clinton Administration. During that stint, Mr. Martin specialized in telephony issues, adding to his experience with the regulated communications industry.
In 1999, Mr. Martin transferred to Texas to become Deputy General Counsel to the Bush-Cheney campaign. He returned to Washington in 2000 to work on the presidential transition and then to serve the Bush White House as a Special Assistant for Economic Policy. The President appointed him to the FCC in 2001.
Chairman Martin's appointment was hailed by many across the communications field. That response likely reflects, in part, his congenial personal style and aptitude for forging consensus, when possible, on difficult issues. Succeeding another Republican, Michael Powell, the new Chairman is expected to generally maintain a deregulatory policy course.
The agency will confront several significant broadcasting issues in the coming months. Among them is the fate of the controversial media ownership rules. In 2003, a majority of the commissioners, including Mr. Martin, voted to ease the existing restraints, but a court later invalidated most of the new regulations. (Several parties have since sought Supreme Court review of that decision, but it is not yet clear whether the justices will hear the appeal.)
In 2004, then-Commissioner Martin expressed interest in opening a separate proceeding to expedite relaxation of one of the rules caught up in the litigation: the 30-year-old ban on common ownership of a daily newspaper and broadcast station in the same market. Yet he also has expressed some cautionary notes about excessive media consolidation.
Most broadcasters also know that Chairman Martin has been a prominent voice on indecency enforcement. While extending a sympathetic ear to local broadcasters' issues generally, the new Chairman likely will continue to hold licensees to acceptable standards and to encourage broadcasters to undertake more family-friendly initiatives.
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