PRESIDENT NAMES NEW CHAIRMAN OF FCC

Kevin Martin Succeeds Michael Powell; Avoids Senate Hearing

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- President Bush today announced he is appointing Kevin J. Martin to succeed Michael Powell at the Federal Communications Commission.
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The appointment sidesteps a likely battle in the Senate over a new FCC chairman. As an existing commissioner, Mr. Martin doesn’t require Senate confirmation.

The Senate strongly opposed and voted against new media ownership regulations that Mr. Powell had championed. While Mr. Powell's plan has been largely overturned by an appellate court decision, the fate of media ownership deregulation would have been a likely focus of any Senate confirmation hearing.

Mr. Martin, 38, had generally sided with Mr. Powell on ownership issues and he has been been outspoken on the issue of obscenity in brodcast media.

Consumer groups today were quick to react to the appointment.

“The [Parents Television Council] has strongly supported Kevin Martin as chairman of the FCC because he is a stalwart leader on the issue of indecency, and we are confident he will make a superb chairman,” said its president, L. Brent Bozell, head of the conservative group.

Meanwhile Common Cause urged Mr. Martin to ensure that the public’s concerns about media get a full and serious hearing at the FCC.

“For too long, the public has played second fiddle to industry concerns at this agency, whose chairman displayed little patience with the notion that the opinions of average Americans counted in making media policy,” the group said in a statement. “We hope that Chairman Martin will understand that the more than 2 million messages from Americans opposing the FCC’s media ownership rules in 2003 were a signal indicating widespread unease about media concentration.”

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