Dingell Probe Of FCC Could Yield June Hearing


Washington—Staff members on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are recommending public hearings in June on the management practices of Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin.

“The bottom line is that the (FCC) process appears broken and most of the blame appears to rest with chairman Martin,” the staff memo said. “We propose hearings in June.”

Committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) opened the probe last December. A month later, he ordered Martin not to destroy records relevant to the investigation.

The staff recommendation came in an April 28 memo to Dingell and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who is chairman of the panel’s subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. A copy of the memo was obtained Tuesday by Multichannel News.

A senior Martin aide didn’t have an immediate comment.

The cable industry has frequently complained about the way Martin has run the agency, saying he has repeatedly targeted the industry for punitive regulation because cable operators and programmers refused to sell programming on an a la carte basis.

Martin has also been accused of excessive secrecy, a reputation he’s been trying to change in recent months. He had been holding regular sessions with reporters and disclosing public meeting agendas three weeks in advance.

Dingell’s staff said in the memo that the investigation is “ongoing” and the recommendation to hold a hearing was based on “more than 30 interviews with current and former [FCC] employees as well as industry representatives and private citizens.”