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Kevin Martin Announces Resignation

Related: Kevin Martin – The Exit Interview

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has announced his resignation from the chairmanship effective Jan. 20.

Martin, who has been at the comission for eight years as both a commissioner and chairman, will become a senior fellow at The Aspen Institute in Washington.

Martin announced the move at his last public meeting in Washington Thursday.

Martin cited his accomplishments as promoting broadband deployment, including by opening TV white spaces to unlicensed devices; raising billions for the treasury in spectrum auctions; adopting network neutrality principles--and enforcing them against Comcast; enforcing children's programming rules; and taking "significant steps" on its own "and in the courts," to enforce indecency rules. The courts reference is because seem of the FCC decisions on its own have been invalidated by lower courts as arbitrary and capricious.

Martin also cited the creation of the Task Force on Media and Childhood Obesity and the voluntary commitments it spurred. The task force itself failed to produce a report to Congress after industry and children's activist members could not agree on the thrust of the report, but major advertisers, under pressure from the FCC and FTC, did agree to cut back marketing of snack foods to kids, improve the nuritritional content of their foods, and other steps.

Martin outlined a number of the ways he had tried to spur programming competition, increase viewer choice and reduce cable rates, including by franchise reform that made it easier for telcos to enter the video space and pushing cable operators to unbundle their programming either through a la carte offerings or family tiers.

On the DTV front, Martin pointed out that a recent survey showed 98% of broadcasters were "on track" to make the transition successfully, and said that the FCC would succeed in informing everyone about the transition. He also cited efforts to millions in fines for retailers who had mislabeled TV sets.

Media Bureau Chief Monica Desai, who made one of several bureau presentations on accomplishments under Martin, thanked him and the other commissioners for a "lively time."

Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps, who will almost certainly be named acting chairman pending the designation, confirmation and installation of President-elect Barack Obama's choice for the job, Julius Genachowski, said he expected it to get "even livelier" in the weeks and months to come, particularly on issues of localism and diversity.

Copps also said he continued to have concerns that the FCC lacked a DTV transition plan, though he praised FCC staffers for their efforts in spite of what he saw as that handicap.