Martin: FCC Will Better Publicize, Outline Proposals

Federal Communications Commission Has Been Criticized for How Items Up for Consideration Are Released

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin said Friday that he is going to make a regular habit of publicizing and outlining items that he is proposing to be adopted at upcoming FCC meetings.

The commission has been criticized both externally and internally for how items are released, when new versions of items are submitted to other commissioners and the general openness of the process. It came to a head after the chairman published a proposed media-ownership-rule change in The New York Times.

That led to complaints from Hill Democrats and a congressional investigation of the FCC's procedures.

In response to those criticisms, the commission started publishing the titles of items the chairman circulated to other commissioners for their approval, but this appeared to be a first in terms of outlining the ones the chairman planned to put on the agenda for a vote -- if they aren't voted on circulation beforehand.

Martin conceded as much, saying: "This is particularly difficult figuring out how to end up handling press questions as it relates to transactions [like Liberty Media-DirecTV]," he said. "I have not traditionally had press briefings on every item that I proposed."

The chairman briefed reporters on a number of upcoming agenda items for the Feb. 26 meeting Friday, including approving the Liberty-DirecTV deal. "I think we do need to change the process so that everyone understands what is going to be on each item," he said. "I am happy to end up providing that information."

He added that he may try to change FCC rules to make such agenda-item outlines a part of the regular process. "What I would like to do is find a regular way of releasing them," he said, "but I have to change some of our internal rules and work with the other commissioners to do that."

"Sounds like it could be a good first step toward meaningful FCC reform," commissioner Michael Copps said through an aide, "and I look forward to hearing the details."