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Martin: FCC Doesn't Need Major Reform

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin said Tuesday that he didn't think the FCC needed major reforming, as has been suggested by some on Capitol Hill.

In a press conference with reporters, he said  the commission would cooperate fully in an investigation into its process and polices launched by House Energy & Commerce chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.).

But he also said he thinks the commission conducts its process in a fair way. For example, he added, "I think the process we underwent in the ownership proceeding was fair and open to the public." He said, "In general, our processes aren't any different than they were under previous chairmen both Republican and Democrat."

Martin did not respond to a question about whether the investigation was in part in response to complaints by cable that the FCC engaged in regulatory blackmail, barraging the industry with regulation when it did not voluntarily adopt a la carte. The chairman said the questioner would have to ask the committee about that characterization.

When asked whether he had changed any procedures in light of that investigation, he did not say yes or no, but he echoed that he had "always worked with my colleagues under the same kind of rules and procedures" as previous FCCs.

But Martin said there were some changes Congress might want to make to the FCC, including giving it the power to regulate violence and, more generally, allowing it to take a more holistic approach to regulating services that he said technology had made increasingly similar.

Another thing he might like to change is the date for the 700-megahertz auction, which starts Jan. 24. Asked if he was concerned that the economic downturn might affect the robustness of bids, he said "sure," he was concerned, but he added that Congress has said the auction has to begin by Jan. 28, so, "Is it an ideal time to necessarily be conducting an auction? I'm not so sure. But Congress has required us to go forward."

The auction is of 62 MHz of analog broadcast spectrum being reclaimed in the switch to digital. The spectrum must be auctioned and proceeds turned over to the treasury by June 1.