Martin Warm On Time Warner Cable Spin-off

Martin Says That He Would Support Spin-Off Provided it Resulted in Lower Cable Rates.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said Friday that if the spin-off of Time Warner Cable from parent Time Warner resulted in lower cable rates, he was all for it as a away to address his concerns about program tying, though he stopped short of recommending it to other vertically-integrated cable companies.

 The company's spin-off plan was approved by Time Warner this week, although Martin said he believed the FCC would still have to sign off as well since it involved the transfer of some FCC licenses (cable uses spectrum for satellite delivery of programming to operators).

 Asked at a Friday press conference whether the separation of the cable operator from the mothership and its cable programming assets would help assuage his concerns about program tying and vertically integrated cable companies, Martin first hammered operators over rates, as he does with the regularity of a Swiss watch, then said that he didn't know whether the Time Warner deal would help address that, but added: "To the extent that it does, I would certainly be supportive and think that would be a good thing."

 The FCC has just closed an inquiry into program tying and access to programming, but Martin said he had no timetable for resolving the issue, though he said he expected the FCC to be active on various fronts throughout the summer and on into 2009.