Skip to main content

McDowell Adds to Martin Pile-on, Blasts 'Radical' Moves

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin isn't making a lot of friends with his recent "70/70" finding of the cable industry's market dominance.

Martin's revelation last week—that cable had attained 70 percent penetration in the 70-plus percent of the nation it reaches, thus triggering more regulatory powers for the FCC—irked the National Cable and Telecommunications Association so much that it called reporters to amplify its displeasure.

This week, at a Media Institute luncheon in Washington, one of Martin's fellow Republican commissioners, Robert McDowell, added to the pile-on.

"He is asserting that the cable industry, and the cable industry alone, is facing less competition and should be subject to more regulation," he said. "This is a radical departure for the commission."

McDowell challenged Martin's data before moving on to bigger questions.

"Why is the FCC suddenly changing its evidentiary standard and methodology just for this one industry? How will this abrupt and radical departure affect other analyses and proceedings? Doesn't this shift weaken arguments for the cross-ownership ban?" he asked. "How do we reconcile decades of data showing more convergence and competition among more delivery platforms with this sudden reversal?"

Tuesday, the bosses of the four major networks also registered their alarm "at recent press accounts and public statements by FCC officials purporting to find undue concentrations of market power that would justify a wide range of government interventions into the media marketplace," an apparent reference to the "70/70" finding.

"These statements stand in stark contrast to the reality of the marketplace in which we compete every day," Peter Chernin, president of News Corp., Philippe Dauman, CEO of Viacom, Jeff Zucker, president and CEO of NBC Universal and Robert Iger, Chairman and CEO of Disney, wrote in a letter to the commission.