Martin Renomination Vote Scheduled for Tuesday

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The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the renomination of Kevin Martin as chairman of the FCC.

The committee is also planning to vote on the nomination of John Kneuer to head the National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA), which is charged with overseeing the subsidy for digital-to-analog converter boxes.

Barring any surprises, both are expected to get the thumbs-up, with a full Senate vote expected before that body exits in two weeks. Kneuer was asked virtually no questions at their renomination hearing last week. Martin had a rougher time, but the way the committee vote is being held suggests that, barring any last-minute surprises, it will not be particularly contentious.

It will be a so-called "off the floor" vote--Senators voting while they do other floor business--rather than a vote in the committee room.

Martin was much in the news last week when, at the hearing, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), no fan of media consolidation, produced a copy of a 2004 report on TV localism drafted but never released by the FCC.

A former FCC staffer claimed the report, which contradicted earlier FCC studies in suggesting local ownership produced more local news, had been suppressed. Martin said he had never seen the report, but after reading it said it was relevant and quickly added it to open proceedings on localism and media ownership and told Boxer he would look into what had happened to the report

Boxer's office had not returned a call at press time on her reaction to Martin's moves regarding the report. She had asked for an FCC Inspector General investigation, a move Martin's office said it was considering.

Anti-Big Media activists were laying blame at the feet of then-Chairman Michael Powell, rather than Martin. Powell told B&C, through an assistant, that he had never seen the report and did not suppress it.

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