Thursday, July 03, 2008

The KevMart Chronicles Continue

I’m not quite sure why, but the Inky ran a long article today on FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, reminding us of how Martin is oh so loved by those wonderful “values voters” out there who are largely responsible for the predicament we have dealt with under George W. Milhous Bush…

"Kevin Martin has been our hero," said Tim Winter, executive director of the Parent Television Council in California, a group with 1.2 million members.
Yeah, well, what a shame that the ruling of their “hero” on “fleeting expletives” was struck down by a federal appeals panel here (with the predictable hissy fit from Martin).


Martin says the nation's cable problems could be solved by requiring Comcast and other providers to sell cable channels individually, or a la carte. This form of sales could reduce cable bills by allowing customers to buy just the channels they truly like and watch.

Customers who found some cable entertainment distasteful would not have to subsidize the offensive channels that come in 200-channel packages.

Cable companies say the pay-per-channel model actually would cost more and would hurt small entertainment programmers.
I reluctantly have to go along with the cable guys on this because a la carte cable would have the unintentionally harmful effect of shutting out special interest voices that don’t have deep pockets, as noted here.

And concerning the prospect of a new commissioner appointed by a President Barack Obama?

That does not please Martin supporters such as Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values Action in Ohio, who says he has been energized by Martin.

In 20 years, Burress said, "we never had an FCC chairman that cared about the indecency standards and the family until Kevin Martin."
How quickly they forget this guy (I know Howard Stern, for one, will not).


Martin said the industry needed more competition. He set out to make that happen through regulatory actions that, so far, have helped competitors of cable pay-TV but have yet to control increases in cable prices.

One of his triumphs was instituting a three-month "shot clock" for local towns to act on new video-franchise requests from pay-TV competitors, such as Verizon Communications Inc.

Cable appealed the new regulation. A federal court in Ohio upheld the shot clock - and the FCC head was elated.
Wow, allowing us a “choice” between Verizon and Comcast!

Next time, don’t do us any favors, OK? (We’re fine with FIOS, but still…).

I realize the story primarily had to do with Martin’s impact on cable, but it would have been nice if Inquirer writer Bob Fernandez had bothered to mention Martin’s decision allowing greater ownership of newspapers by broadcast media companies here, earning this resolution of disapproval from Dem Senator Byron Dorgan.

Also, I’m not sure why Martin’s stand on Net Neutrality was ignored; if I didn’t know better, I’d think Martin is acting like he wishes this issue would go away, but fortunately, Dem-appointed commissioner Michael Copps is taking a firmer stand here (and Net Neutrality is an issue regardless of where you reside in the political scheme of things, as the story notes – also concerning Net Neutrality, Comcast played a little game last February noted here that I’m sure David Cohen doesn’t want to discuss).

Also, way down in this link is a note that Martin will approve the merger of Sirius and XM Satellite Radio “on the strength of voluntary commitments the companies had made in a letter dated June 13, 2008.”

Based on the influence of Clear Channel on the Repugs and their acolytes (with CC having showered an unholy fortune on their “Hillbilly Heroin”-addicted star of the airwaves here and satellite as a basis for diverse political opinions, including progressive ones), how much do you want to bet that Martin approves the merger just after he finishes cleaning out his desk and shutting off the lights next January?

Update 7/30/08: OK, so I was wrong about Martin's approval of the Sirius/XM merger, as noted in this Open Left post from Matt Stoller (I was initially shocked by the title and what appeared to be some fawning in the opening paragraphs, but this post is actually quite good - to be fair, though, anybody can look like a hero when going up against Comcast).

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