FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has canceled the Dec. 18 FCC public meeting. A spokesman says it was because of the letter the chairman received from two legislators advising him to concentrate on the DTV transition and business that has a statutory deadline.
"We received the letter from Senator [Jay] Rockefeller and Congressman [Henry] Waxman today and spoke with other offices," said the spokesman. "In light of the letter, it does not appear that there is consensus to move forward and the agenda meeting has been canceled. The items will remain on circulation and the Commissioners can still vote on them."
The letter was something of a warning shot across the bow from the future heads of the Senate Commerce Committee (Rockfeller) and House Energy & Commerce Committee (Waxman), which oversee the FCC.
Martin was hoping to vote on an item that would make changes to program-access complaint rules, including putting a shot clock on the FCC's handling of complaints, as well as opening an inquiry into a related proposal to prohibit cable programmers from dictating placement on programming tiers as a condition of carriage agreements.
That item would limit the options of both broadcasters seeking retransmission consent agreements and cable programmers, so it has gotten push-back from lobbyists for both industries.
The agenda also included a proposal to create a free broadband service as part of a wireless spectrum auction, another item that had drawn criticism from those who supported the proposal but opposed a condition that the service include a content filter to protect minors from inappropriate content.
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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.