FCC Chair Headed to Aspen Institute
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin, a rising star of the Bush administration who angered many in his own party with a push to reform cable pricing, said today he will leave the agency upon the handover of the new administration.
The Bush appointee said in a statement that he will join the non-profit leadership group the Aspen Institute as a senior fellow on communications issues upon his departure Jan. 20. President-elect Barack Obama is expected to announce the nomination of his technology adviser, Julius Genachowski, a local venture capital investor and former official of the FCC, to head the agency.
Martin has led the FCC for four years through sweeping changes in the telecommunications and high-tech industry, adding oversight of wireless technologies and high-speed Internet access to the agency's more traditional role of broadcast and media regulation.
He said in a statement that he "approached his decisions with a fundamental belief that a robust, competitive marketplace, not regulation, is ultimately the best protector of the public interest and the best method of delivering the benefits of choice, innovation, and affordability to American consumers."
He has crusaded for a reform of cable bundled pricing so that consumers can select channels and pay for them individually. The plan attracted scrutiny from Republican lawmakers and was ultimately unsuccessful.
Martin will likely be remembered for forcing the winner of a spectrum auction to open its network to outside technologies. He also ruled against cable operator Comcast in its practice of slowing down certain Internet traffic on its network.
"Martin didn't tow any particular line ideologically in his policy proposals as regards to wireless and network management," said Jessica Zufolo, senior analyst of telecommunications at Medley Global Advisors. "He took a lot of heat from Republicans for this."
January 15, 2009; 4:08 PM ET
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