What follows is even more Washington humor from FCC Chairman Kevin Martin at the Federal Communications Bar Association's annual salute to the chairmanTuesday night:
Calling network neutrality a complicated issue, Martin advised any young lawyers in the audience–there were some 2,000 young and old at the Washington Hilton–to read a New York Times piece on the subject that he highly recommended, entitled 'Hey Baby Bells: Information Still Wants To Be Free.' "Ironically," said the chairman, "if you want to read it, you'll have to pay the New York Times $3.95." Applause.
Martin turned to the XM/Sirius merger, saying that NAB opposes it [Fritts, in his warm-up had re-christened NAB the National Association of Satellite Radio Killers]. "They say the FCC should not reward an industry that has made Howard Stern its poster child [pause for effect]. That's according to NAB spokesman Don Imus."
Saying that he had heard several names were in the running for the merged company, Martin said "the smart money is on AT&T."
That was Martin'segue into a riff on the Baby Bells. Saying that some people had complained the FCC took way to long to OK the AT&T/Bell South merger, Martin quipped: " I say if we hand't broken them up in the first place this wouldn't be an issue.
Martin said that Commissioners Copps and Jonathan Adelstein's traveling around the country arguing that the U.S. was not a broadband leader was "crazy." He said the U.S. has dozens of broad bands, the Go-Gos, the Bangles, the Dixie Chicks (groans all around).
Of talk he would be leaving the commission to pursue a political career, Martin said. "In November there were rumors I would be leaving in January. In January there were rumors I would be leaving in April. Now there are rumors I will be leaving in June. I want to clarify. Let me state clearly, all rumors about me leaving in September should not begin until June."
Martin closed with shout-outs to his fellow commissioners for being good sports, and FCC staffers for working long hours in the public's service. He also hoped his remarks would not be taken out of context, calling it a night for having a little fun, and for him "about as enjoyable as appearing before a congressional committee."
By John Eggerton