Republican replaces Michael Powell.

The Bush administration has announced that it has picked Kevin J. Martin to be the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Under congressional rules, since the Republican Martin has been a sitting FCC commissioner since July 2001, he will not have to undergo a Senate confirmation hearing.

Martin succeeds Michael Powell, who announced his retirement in January after a four-year term and is expected to vacate his office tomorrow (March 17).

"Kevin Martin is the right person at the right time to lead the FCC," says Edward O. Fritts, president/CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters. "Kevin has a passion for public service and a deep understanding and appreciation for the value of local broadcasting."

Before joining the FCC, Martin was a special assistant to the president for economic policy, served on the Bush-Cheney transition team and was dputy general counsel for the Bush campaign. Prior to working on the Bush campaign, Martin was an advisor to former FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth.

Insiders say the understated Martin may be a less polarizng figure than Powell, although his deregulation agenda may be even more aggressive than that of the departing chairman. Some observers say the conservative Martin may also be more responsive to the religious right on indecency issues.

Martin and Powell had their share of arm-wrestling over issues. The biggest battle was in 2003, when Martin sided with the FCC's two Democrats on a key vote over phone competition rules.

The Bush White House must still nominate a commissioner to the five-member FCC, which under the current political structure has three Republican slots and two Democratic ones. The Senate would have to approve that nomination.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print