Martin Responds To Leased Access Stay

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Washington—If Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin is smarting from his latest setback in federal court, he didn't show it during a press conference Friday morning.

A day earlier, a panel of U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit stayed Martin-backed rules intended to slash the rates that third-party programmers pay to get on cable systems. It was the fourth judicial stay of an FCC order under Martin within the last few months.

When asked about the cable leased access stay, Martin launched into a discussion of the FCC's victory the week before in which its denial of a set-top box waiver for Comcast was upheld by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

"We've had several different court issues in just last week," Martin told a group of reporters. "I think the D.C. Circuit just upheld our set-top box orders last week in which they had said the commission had acted reasonably and that some of the allegations about the commission were not only irrelevant but seemed to be unfounded ..."

Martin then asked an aide to locate a copy of the D.C. Circuit's opinion so he could point to the exact language in support of the FCC. The aide did so, but Martin didn't return to that particular case.

When he finally got around to addressing the leased access stay, Martin attempted to put a positive spin on it.

"I think the [the judges] focused more on the potential for harm than they did on the likelihood of success," Martin said.

Eventually, he acknowledged the reality that the leased access rules will not go into effect within a few weeks.

"The commission obviously responds, as I've told you all before, to any court action," Martin said. "Our rules will then be stayed until the final litigation."

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