Wall Street Journal 3/14/07

Democratic lawmakers took Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin to task over a number of the agency’s policies.

At a hearing before the House Commerce Committee’s telecommunications panel, Commerce Chairman John Dingell of Michigan said the FCC is overstepping its bounds and usurping local authority with its recent policy to change video franchises. “If reform of that regulatory structure is necessary, then it is Congress’s prerogative to take such action as we have done before,” Dingell scolded. “It is not the role of the FCC. The commission chose to ignore the well-settled divisions of responsibilities, that is unwise.”

Dingell suggested the telecommunications subcommittee might have to hold oversight hearings “every month” in order to ensure the FCC is doing its job appropriately.

Indeed, Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey, chairman of the telecommunications panel, told Martin that he could expect to be a “frequent visitor” before the subcommittee.

A third Democrat, Rep. Anna Eshoo of California was especially critical of Martin. “I continue to hear complaints that the commission is unresponsive, insular and even capricious at times,” said Eshoo. She went on to say that she was often told, even by some of the largest companies regulated by the FCC, of the heavy-handed manner that Martin’s office dealt with issues. –Corey Boles