Barton: Martin Isn’t 'Anti-Cable’

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is putting out mixed signals about his opinion of Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin, saying the regulatory chief isn’t “anti-cable” but is continuing to search for problems within cable that don’t exist.

Barton, the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, discussed the FCC chairman and cable in an interview taped by C-SPAN in connection with the network’s Communicators series. The interview airs Dec. 17 on C-SPAN2 at 8 a.m., and Dec. 17 on C-SPAN2 at 8 p.m.

“I would not say the chairman is anti-cable. He apparently has an agenda that is not as deregulatory as I would hope that a Republican chairman would be with regards to the cable industry,” Barton said. “It appears to me that he sometimes seems to be searching for a problem to solve which simply in my opinion isn’t there in the cable industry.”

From cable’s perspective, Martin has been harassing the industry with punitive mandates because cable operators have denied Martin’s request that they sell channels on an a la carte basis. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association had to pull out all the stops last month to block Martin from relying on suspect data to charge off in a new regulatory direction for cable.

“Are [cable’s] problems so big that they need to be re-regulated? I don’t think so,” Barton said.