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Salon Suggests Martin Indecency Crackdown

A story in online mag Tuesday suggested that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is preparing to crack down on cable and satellite indecency, with help from the Senate.

Although the story primarily gathered string on various indecency-related issues reported in B&C and elsewhere over the past two or three years, it also said that Martin had met over the summer with various activist groups to assure them that he was preparing to address their content concerns.

His hiring of anti-indecency activist Penny Nance as a part-time policy adviser earlier this month had raised speculation along those lines, but staff or even commissioner meetings with groups of various stripes are not unusual.

In fact, Martin met with Nance on the issue back when he was a commissioner and she was still heading activist group Concerned Women for America, and groups like the NAB and NCTA regularly meet with commissioners and staff, though spokesmen for both were checking on whether they had had any meetings specifically on the indecency issue..

Certainly, the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families is hoping that Martin's meetings are more than simply lending an ear to their concerns. Rick Schatz is quoted in the Salon story as saying Martin assured him that "the free rein of cable and satellite and satellite radio is not acceptable."

Martin has long said he was concerned about cable indecency, pushing the industry to create family-friendly tiers and even wielding the big-stick of regulation, though First Amendment attorneys see any regulation of cable content as a tough sell to the courts.

Schatz's coalition is also looking for some help on the cell-phone content side.

Its Web site Tuesday was asking surfers to pray for senior VP Jack Samad, who it said was meeting with Nance and members of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association Friday, Sept. 1, about content oversight of emerging wireless technologies.

FCC had no comment, though the FCC does have a backlog of complaints whose resolution could come in the next few weeks.

The story also suggested that Martin's Senate allies on the indecency issue were busy on potential legislation regarding fines, family-friendly tiers, and even applying indecency regs to basic cable.

That came as news to the office of Sen.Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who has been one of the most active senators on the issue. A senior staffer knew of no bills in the works, though that could also be a factor of timing.

Brownback legislative advisor Courtney Anderson, who helped draft indecency legislation and was the senator's lead staffer on the issue, was recently poached by Sen. Jim Demint (R-S.C.), though a staffer there wasn't aware of work on any potential indecency bills either.