NAB Radio Show: Breakfast With The Chairman
September 27, 2007 at 6:40 AM (PT)
FCC Chairman KEVIN MARTIN fielded questions on topics ranging from public interest standards to EAS changes from NAB Radio Board Chairman RUSS WITHERS at the NAB RADIO SHOW's annual FCC Breakfast THURSDAY.
Resisting the idea that stations should be subject to additional public interest programming requirements, MARTIN suggested that the Commission should instead reform the rules to have stations quantify what they already do to serve the public and put that information online for public access.
...we're down to a very few words that can't be said on the air and the Commission is very clear about looking at the context in those cases.
Asked about the XM-SIRIUS merger still pending before the FCC, MARTIN spoke only generally, noting that the merger is presently prohibited under the rules, but that the companies have made "interesting proposals" to justify the merger and protect consumers. When WITHERS asked about the NAB's concern that the satellite companies are planning to go after local revenue, MARTIN noted that the companies are not prohibited from going after local ads as long as they don't insert local-only ads and material through local terrestrial repeaters.
"I would be concerned if they were trying to become a local broadcaster," MARTIN said, but did not agree that local material broadcast nationally violates the local prohibition placed on the satellite companies.
Inclined To Allow AM To Use FM Translators
MARTIN said that the FCC is "favorably inclined" towards allowing AM stations to fill in coverage with FM translators, calling it "a good opportunity for the Commission to provide additional support to AM broadcasters." When WITHERS asked if this meant that the broadcasters' assumption that congressional support was necessary to get Special Temporary Authority for such translators, MARTIN joked, "It's never a bad thing to have a Congressman to write."
On the possibility of imposing specific public interest mandates on digital broadcasting, MARTIN reiterated his opposition to quantifiable public interest requirements, suggesting instead that the industry find ways to let the public know what it is doing to serve the public interest.
Before the event, MARTIN, a CHARLOTTE native, told the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER's MARK WASHBURN that "we're down to a very few words" that can't be said on the air "and the Commission is very clear about looking at the context in those cases." MARTIN repeated his contention that "there should be some limits on what is put on the public airwaves."