March 16, 2005 12:43 PM PST
Bush chooses Martin as next FCC chairman
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enforce our rules more stringently." (L. Brent Bozell III, president of the Parents Television Council, endorsed Martin as chairman in January.)
Revisiting a 1996 telecommunications law
The FCC chairmanship will be unusually important in the next few years, as Congress mulls over revisiting the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which was not written with the Internet era in mind. On Wednesday, for instance, one House of Representatives committee convened a hearing titled "How Internet Protocol-Enabled Services are Changing the Face of Communications."
At the hearing, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, R-Tex., said VoIP was so disruptive that it was time to rewrite the 1996 law. "This year, it's my intention to...craft legislation that reflects how much technology has changed the communications industry," Barton said.
Among the questions Barton said his legislation would address: Should VoIP companies be required to pay "universal service" taxes? Must VoIP firms be legally required to provide some form of e911 services? Should state governments be allowed to regulate, and perhaps even set prices for, VoIP services?
"As chairman of the commission, Kevin Martin can be an articulate spokesman for the view that Congress needs to reform the communications laws," said Randy May, a former FCC lawyer now at the free-market Progress & Freedom Foundation. "That really does require a new vision for communications policy and in fact for the FCC itself."
Some of May's colleagues had lined up behind Intel lobbyist Peter Pitsch, a former FCC lawyer who was seen as a dark-horse candidate for the chairman position. But Martin seemed to enjoy the broadest support.
Martin supported the "removal of regulatory obstacles and introduction of competition into the broadband marketplace must occur if broadband is to reach its promise," Dawson wrote in the Feb. 7 letter.
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