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FCC Publishes To-Do List

The Federal Communications Commission late Tuesday posted online a list of the items chairman Kevin Martin circulated to the other commissioners for a vote -- apparently a first for the commission.

The move comes on the eve of a congressional hearing at which Martin is expected to be grilled by Democrats in particular about criticisms of FCC processes, including insufficient notice to the public about propsals the FCC votes on.

In response to an October 2007 report from the Government Accountability Office, Martin told Congress Nov. 30 that he would take steps to unsure "equal access to information ... particularly in regard to the disclosure of information about proposed rules that are scheduled to be considered by the commission."

Legislators -- including Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, before which Martin and other commissioners are testifying Wednesday -- have complained that Martin sprung a proposed media-ownership change on them and other commissioners without sufficient notice and opportunity for public input.

Publishing the list online, the FCC said in a release, is part of an effort to "make the FCC's rulemaking process as fair and transparent as possible." 

That list comprises some 150 items, including proposed fines, the broadcast-localism report, cable-ownership limits, digital-TV carriage, broadcast-diversity initiatives, sponsorship-identification rules and a veritable host of others. It does not explain the items, however, although some titles are relatively self-explanatory, providing a date when they were circulated and a title.

Martin has been saying, and other commissioenrs confirming, that there were many dozens of items before the other commissioners. While the commissioners vote on items at their monthly public meetings, they are free to vote at other times, as well, as they did last week to approve the Tribune newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership waivers.