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House panel says Martin’s FCC dysfunctional: Martin defends commitment to deaf and and lower cable rates

The House Commerce Committee released a report accusing Federal Communications Commission Kevin Martin of mismanaging an agency described as dysfunctional.
“Our investigation confirmed a number of troubling allegations raised by individuals in and outside the FCC,” said Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the oversight and investigations subcommittee. “The committee staff report details some of the most egregious abuses of power, suppression of information and manipulation of data under chairman Martin’s leadership. It is my hope that this report will serve as a roadmap for a fair, open and efficient FCC under new leadership in the next administration.”
Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), outgoing chairman of the Commerce Committee, agreed.
“Any of these findings, individually, are cause for concern,” said Dingell. “Together, the findings suggest that, in recent years, the FCC has operated in a dysfunctional manner and commission business has suffered as a result. It is my hope that the new FCC chairman will find this report instructive and that it will prove useful in helping the commission avoid making the same mistakes.”
The staff report was the result of a year-long investigation that involved the review of thousands of documents and interviews with current and former FCC employees.
The FCC downplayed the committee’s findings.
“It appears that the committee did not find or conclude that there were any violations of rules, laws or procedures following a year-long investigation,” said FCC spokesman Robert Kenny. “Chairman Martin has followed the same procedures that have been followed for the past 20 years by FCC Chairmen, both Democratic and Republican alike.”
Kenny added: “After a year of investigation, the committee’s primary criticism of the chairman is that he spent too much money to ensure that deaf Americans have equal access to communications services. The commission provided the committee with hundreds of e-mails from deaf and disabled Americans who wrote that they were ‘appalled to learn that the FCC staff [was] intent on drastically cutting the Video Relay Service rate and effectively cutting VRS availability for the deaf.’ Disability rights groups were also opposed to proposals to cut funding for the VRS program. The other major criticism of chairman Martin is that he believes cable rates are too high and that he has sought to enhance choice and competition in the market for video services. With cable rates having doubled over the last decade, he will continue advocate on behalf of the millions of cable subscribers. The chairman makes no apologies for his commitment to serving deaf and disabled Americans and for fighting to lower exorbitantly high cable rates that consumers are forced to pay.”
The report is posted on the committee’s website at http://energycommerce.house.gov.

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