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The Ferree Plan: Leave in March

Federal Communications Commission Media Bureau chief Ken Ferree plans to leave the agency in March, the same time as his boss, chairman Michael Powell.

Ferree and Powell have both pushed a plan to speed the DTV transition by defining as digital-ready households that get a digital signal converted to analog by a cable system. Once 85% of households in a market can receive a digital signal, the analog spectrum can be reclaimed for other uses.

Powell and Ferree are expected to decide on the best way to proceed with the plan at the March meeting, after which both are exiting.

They are expected to have already resolved the digital must-carry and dual-carriage issues at a February meeting. An aide to Powell says the decision will be a thumbs down on mandatory carriage of broadcasters' multicast channels, though others wonder whether he actually has the votes to deal broadcasters that major defeat on the way out the door.

Ferree has announced no future plans, and no word yet on who would replace him atop the media bureau.