Kevin Martin named new FCC chief
Free Press challenges new chairman to defend the public interest better than his predecessor
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Kevin Martin will be named this week as the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, replacing Michael Powell. Robert W. McChesney, founder and president of the nonpartisan media reform group Free Press, made the following statement:
“Kevin Martin has not distinguished himself as a defender of the public interest during his tenure at the FCC. Too often, he has done the bidding of industry lobbyists and made decisions behind closed doors without public input. His new position presents a great opportunity to change course and instead listen to average citizens about the crucial policy decisions that will shape the future of the media and the Internet.
“While Martin won’t face further Senate scrutiny in a confirmation hearing, much has changed since he was first appointed to the FCC in 2001. The FCC’s infamous June 2003 ruling on media ownership – when Martin voted in favor of further concentration – awakened the public to the disastrous decisions being made in their name but without their consent. They will be watching the new chairman very closely.
“In the coming months and years, the FCC will not only revisit the ownership rules, but will make major decisions affecting broadband Internet access, community radio, and allocation of the public airwaves after the digital television transition. Martin faces a choice of whether to continue business as usual or follow the lead of FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, who have convened numerous hearings nationwide to learn what Americans want out of their media system. If Martin and the majority at the FCC choose again to ignore the public, they will face an enormous backlash that will make 2003 look like a tiny ripple.”
Robert McChesney is the founder and president of Free Press, (www.freepress.net) a national, non-partisan organization that seeks to increase informed public participation in media policy and to promote a more competitive, public interest-oriented media system.
Contact: Ben Scott
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