Martin Cagey About Departure Plan

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said Monday he has no particular plans to leave the commission.

Asked by reporters whether he would stay long enough to oversee the Feb. 17 DTV transition, and also whether he would stay to prevent the Democrats from taking over the commission’s majority, Martin gave non-committal answers.

The commission’s five members may only include three from one party. Republican Deborah Taylor Tate, who has never been confirmed by the Senate, will lose her post when Congress adjourns this winter—and to prevent President Bush from bypassing the Senate with so-called recess appointments, Congress may gavel the 110th Congress shut just before convening the new Congress in January.

After inauguration Jan. 20, President Obama is expected to appoint one of the two Democrats on the panel—Jonathan Adelstein or Michael Copps—to the role of interim chairman, bumping Martin out of the chair but not off the commission entirely. In the past, many supplanted chairman have resigned from the commission, but some have stayed on as regular old commissioner. If Martin stays, the FCC would have a 2-2 partisan split until Martin resigns or a new chairman is nominated by Obama and confirmed by the Senate.

Martin’s term ends in 2011.