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Powell Out; Martin In - Broadcasting & Cable

Powell Out; Martin In

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Kevin Martin officially took over duties as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Friday.

Bush named Martin to the job Wednesday, but he had to wait until predecessor Michael Powell formally stepped down this morning to take over the agency helm.

Quick to take charge, Martin Friday morning issued an email to FCC senior staff, ordering them not to release any major staff-level decisions or public notices until Martin's office gets a chance to review them.

Typically, staff level decisions receive the review of the agency chairman but not other commissioners. Consequently Martin and his aides are not familiar with all of the staff rulings now in the works and want to make sure the decisions reflect his on preferences before being issued. Staff also has been asked not to give speeches on behalf of the commission or make other public statements purportedly reflecting the commission's views "until further notice."Martin has not announced his agenda for the next few months, but he is expected to continue the FCC’s ongoing campaign to punish broadcasters that violate indecency restrictions, the drive to complete the digital television transition, and settle allegations that the networks have abused their market leverage over affiliated stations.

During his tenure Martin also will oversee the FCC’s upcoming review of broadcast ownership rules and likely be charged with implementing a major rewrite of telecommunications laws that Congress is expected to pass sometime in 2006.

Martin favored broad deregulation of broadcast ownership limits in 2003, but the rule relaxation he supported was overruled by federal judges last summer.

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