FCC’s Martin to resign Jan. 20

Fri, 01/16/2009 - 7:35am
Brian Santo

FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin announced his resignation from the Commission, effective Jan. 20 – the date the Obama Administration takes over. Martin will join the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., as a senior fellow.

Martin published a list several pages long of his accomplishments while at the FCC, some successful (presiding over the auction of 700 MHz spectrum associated with the digital transition), some less so (separable security), and some that would likely have happened regardless of who was running the FCC (increasing broadband penetration).

Martin’s list neglected to mention a report recently issued by Congress that his tenure was notable for mismanagement and manipulation of data to fit his agenda.

His fellow Commissioners, some of whom complained publicly about Martin’s behavior as chair, put out gracious statements congratulating him. Jonathan Adelstein and Robert McDowell wrote briefly but appreciatively.

Michael Copps was also complimentary, but was notable among his fellow Commissioners for not glossing over how controversial Martin’s tenure was, nor that Martin was adversarial with many of his colleagues at the Commission.

After expressing admiration for some of Martin’s achievements, Copps noted: “None of this is to paper over our very real differences on many matters of substance and process, with media consolidation, broadband competition policy and Commission transparency coming immediately to mind. But this is not the time or place to revisit things divisive. Sometimes Kevin confounded Commission-watchers by putting forward very original ideas that those who didn’t know him might never have expected. This made some folks happy, some unhappy, and others occasionally frantic. But it could also be refreshing.”

In his letter of resignation to President Bush, Martin wrote: “I have had the privilege of serving at the Federal Communications Commission for almost eight years, including four years as the agency’s chairman. During this period, we have seen a telecommunications industry undergoing rapid and unprecedented change. As a result of the market-oriented and consumer-focused policies we have pursued, the American people are now reaping the rewards of convergence and the broadband revolution, including new and more innovative technologies and services at ever-declining prices.”

And in Martin’s place, Julius Genachowski will be nominated to the chairmanship of the FCC, as CED reported last week (story here).

Genachowski will be immediately dunked into controversy. It will fall on his shoulders to decide whether or not to delay the date of the digital transition, now set as Feb. 17.

Genachowski was a student with Obama at Harvard Law. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter, and subsequently was chief counsel to Reed Hundt, FCC chairman during the Clinton Administration. Genachowski took an executive position with Barry Diller’s IAC/Interactive Corp., founded an investment and advisory firm for digital media companies, and co-founded a commercial “green” bank, said to be the country’s first.

More Broadband Direct:

• FCC's Martin to resign Jan. 20

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• Hawaii takes closely watched digital TV plunge

• Whether DTV deadline moves or not, NCTA ready

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• Broadband Briefs for 01/16/09


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