Dingell Gives FCC's Martin, Aides Deadline


Washington -- Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin has until Nov. 21 to offer comments on the results of a House Energy and Commerce Committee investigation into his management practices at the national media regulatory body.

"If you're unwilling to meet with our staff by next Friday, November 21, 2008, the committee staff will proceed to finalize its report on the investigation," Energy and Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell said in a letter Friday to Martin.

The letter was co-signed by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight Investigations.

"We received the letter offering interviews to the chairman and others and we are reviewing it. We continue to be cooperative with the committee and have already provided thousands of documents at their request," FCC spokesman Robert Kenny said Friday afternoon.

Dingell's letter noted that his staff has been trying for a week to step up an interview with Martin.

"Thus far, however, your office has failed to arrange a meeting in response to our calls," Dingell said.

Identical letters were sent to top Martin lieutenants, including: chief of staff Daniel Gonzalez; Inspector General Kent Nilsson; Derek K. Poarch, chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau; and former chief of the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, Catherine Bohigian, who is now vice president of federal affairs at Cablevision Systems Corporation.

Dingell launched the investigation last December, triggered after Martin allegedly withheld from his FCC colleagues crucial cable subscriber penetration data that Martin wanted to use to re-regulate cable operators, perhaps imposing a la carte programming mandates.

Martin and his colleagues battled for hours behind closed doors, forcing the agency to start its November 2007 monthly public meeting just after 9 p.m., an almost 12-hour delay. A cable competition report adopted at that meeting has not been released.

"Given several events and proceedings over the past year, I am rapidly losing confidence that the [FCC] has been conducting its affairs in an appropriate manner," Dingell said in his letter to Martin announcing the probe.