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Dems Ask Martin To Stick To DTV Transition

As expected Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WVA) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), have written a letter advising FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to confine his last FCC actions to smoothing the DTV transition and matters that "require action under the law."

Those would not include a proposal to make changes to program access complaint rules and a proposal to prohibit cable programmers from dictating placement on programming tiers as a condition of carriage agreements.

It would also likely not include a controversial proposal to create a a free broadband service as part of a wireless spectrum auction.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin released an agenda for the Dec. 18 public meeting with a couple of DTV-related items Thursday night as well as the program carriage and free broadband items, but he is expected to consult with other commissioners and likely modify the agenda in light of the letter, according to industry sources.

Saying they were writing with concern about the Dec. 18 meeting agenda, Rockefeller and Waxman said:

"The most important challenge for the Commission over the next nine weeks is to ensure the smoothest possible transition to digital television (DTV). At a time when serious questions are being raised about transition readiness, it would be counterproductive for the FCC to consider unrelated items, especially complex and controversial items that the new Congress and new Administration will have an interest in reviewing. We strongly urge you to concentrate the Commission's attention and resources only on matters that require action under the law and efforts to smooth the transition to digital television."

Rockefeller and Waxman will be the chairmen of the Senate Commerce Committee and House Energy & Commerce Committee, respectively in the new Congress. Those are the committee's overseeing the FCC and communications issues.

“We just received the letter from Senator Rockefeller and Congressman Waxman,” said the FCC spokesmen Matt Nodine. “We are reviewing it and will reach out to the other offices.”