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I’m not sure who they all are but a surprising number of people have opted to spend an hour of a pretty nice Las Vegas day in a dark meeting room listening to outgoing FCC Chairman Kevin Martin in his last CES heading the commission. If they were hoping for a sign from Martin about his plans, no such luck. Although he fully expects to be replaced as chairman, Martin is not ready to leave the FCC — or not ready to say so, at least. Martin told CEA head Gary Shapiro: “My term’s not up until 2011 and I don’t have any plans to announce. I don’t have anything to go do yet.”
DTV transition: Shapiro archly asked Martin if the Obama team’s request that the Feb. 17 transition date be changed “is change you can believe in.” The actual date was chosen by Congress and, as Martin pointed out quickly and often, Congress can change the date but he doesn’t think the target should move. “Ultimately, this is Congress’s decision. I completely think we need to do something about the computer box coupon program and we need to move quickly.” But he contends that actually changing the date “will create even more consumer confusion” as well as causing problems for broadcasters who are ready to move and hampering would-be new users of the spectrum space that is supposed to be freed up by the switch.
Content regulations: Martin: “I don’t have a problem with the steps we’ve taken to enforce decency.” He doesn’t want to see violence or smoking either during family TV hours: “I would be uncomfortable if Big Bird started lighting up cigarettes and smoking in front of kids.” But Martin draws the line at regulating internet content. “Internet content is not as easily accessible to children. … I don’t think you regulate the broadband pipes at all — but content you push out as opposed to content you choose to select and pull down.”