FCC Chairman Kevin Martin will not be attending the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in Las Vegas, according to an NAB spokesperson. The conference traditionally features the FCC's top regulator.
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps and Deborah Tate are still expected to attend.
An FCC spokesman confirmed that the scheduling of a congressional hearing was the reason for the absence. According to the NAB spokesperson, there has been no suggestion someone else would come in Martin's place.
The chairman is scheduled to be the only witness at a hearing in the House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee Tuesday, April 17 (10 a.m.), on the FCC's appropriation, though he will also be grilled on how the commission is doing its job. Martin will be explaining and defending the FCC's budget request.
Committee spokeswoman Kristin Brost couldn't say when the hearing schedule had been set, but said an FCC hearing had been planned since at least February. According to Brost, the committee was unaware of the potential NAB conflict. According to the office of Chairman Jose Serrano, the subcommittee worked with FCC staffers on the timing of the hearing, and would have made accommodations if the FCC had asked to move it.
Democratic congressional leaders have made no secret of their desire to have Martin and the other commissioners appear far more frequently than under Republican oversight, which they say has been lax.
Chairman Kevin Martin could not be reached immediately for comment.
Broadcasters are anxious about several issues before the FCC, including violence and obscenity, the carriage of new digital channels and conversion of the nations TV's from analog to digital.