updated 03:55 pm EST, Tue December 9, 2008
FCCs Martin Found Biased
A new US House Committee on Energy and Commerce report (PDF) published today accuses current FCC chairman Kevin Martin of unfairly biasing policy against the cable industry. The government body head is specifically accused of overriding others' views and is said to have reversed a finding that exempted cable providers from offering à la carte rules as well as attempting to force through a report that would have accused the cable industry of greater than 70 percent control of the market, allowing Martin and the FCC to regulate the field.
The official is also blamed for allowing through a large increase to video relay fees for the deaf as well as of using his position to force reassignments and vet new hires based on employees' agreements with his personal beliefs. Such oversight has created a "climate of fear" at the FCC where some staffers are afraid to speak out, the report says.
An official FCC response defends Martin and claims that nothing illegal was discovered as part of the findings. It also reinterprets the video relay fee hike as a benefit to the deaf and says that messages from the deaf were "appalled" that a rate cut was possible and would allegedly stifle service.
Martin has been well known for advocating open access rules in telecommunications, including conditions placed on the 700MHz and white space wireless auctions this year, but has also been accused outside of the report of unfairly favoring traditional phone companies. Rumors had the chairman accepting Verizon lobbying while the carrier tried to block open access rules for the 700MHz space, though Martin later agreed to the terms citing the need for competition. [via Ars Technica]