Martin Not Opposed to Diversity Task Force

The Rev. Jesse Jackson Volunteers to Serve
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Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin said Friday that he was not opposed to a media diversity task force along the lines proposed by commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, but it should not preclude "moving forward on ownership issues.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, standing at Martin's side, said he would be ready to serve on the task force.

At a speech to a Rainbow PUSH media and telecommunications conference in Washington, D.C., founder Jackson pushed Martin on the creation of the task force to have more input on minority issues before the FCC revamps its media-ownership rules.

In a press scrum after his speech to the group, with Jackson at his side, Martin was asked whether, if a task force could be assembled quickly, he would consider recommendations of such a task force before acting on a media-ownership rewrite.

Martin said he would "always consider any of the recommendations by any group that comes forward, whether Rev. Jackson was a part of it or not. But obviously, if someone of his stature was involved, it gives it significant additional weight."

But he added that it was important to "move forward on ownership issues," as well as other issues he outlined in his speech, which included prohibited program tying by cable programmers; prohibiting exclusive deals between multichannel-video providers; revamping the leased-access rules to lower the rates and allow more diverse voices; and allowing broadcasters to lease digital spectrum to "designated entries," including minorities, then mandating cable carriage of those new programming voices.

"I always support additional input, but neither do I think the commission shouldn't move forward depending on when the input comes,” Martin said. “We have had a significant amount of time where people have been commenting. This proceeding has been open for more than one year, and I think it is time for us to come to some kind of time frame that we can move forward on."

Jackson took the opportunity to say that he was "looking forward to [chairman Martin] setting up that panel, and I would be anxious to serve."

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