Dingell Launches House Probe Into FCC Policymaking

As he had threatened to, House Energy & Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) last week told FCC Chairman Kevin Martin that the committee's oversight subcommittee has formally launched an investigation into the commission's procedures and policies.

"We have the letter and we are going to do what he asked," says an FCC spokesman.

Committee leaders advised Martin last week they expect FCC staffers to cooperate and ordered the agency to start preserving all documents and e-mails, adding for emphasis that no historical records "shall be destroyed, modified, altered, deleted, removed, relocated, or otherwise negligently or intentionally handled so as to make them inaccessible to the committee."

The investigation followed complaints externally and internally about how items were brought to a vote, about information that was leaked to some lobbyists and not to others, and complaints about Martin's resolve to vote on modifying the ban on newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership—which passed Dec. 18—despite attempts to stop or delay the vote by various Democratic legislators, including Dingell.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.