In one of his final public appearances before leaving the chairmanship of the Federal Communications Commission, Kevin Martin told an audience at International CES in Las Vegas that his preference is to avoid a delay in the DTV transition.
Just 10 days prior to the inauguration of Barack Obama as president- and with it, a new FCC chairman- Martin sat down for a one-on-one with Consumer Electronics Association President/CEO Gary Shapiro, a discussion taking place for the third straight year. The discussion also came just three days after Obama's presidential chief wrote a letter proposing a delay in the Feb. 17 DTV transition.
When asked about this proposal, which to which CEA is strongly opposed, Martin said "there are a variety of things Congress can do" that do not involve changing the date, such as waiving the 90-day expiration date for converter box programs, as well as appropriate additional funds to the program and adjust accounting rules.
Martin also expressed concern about the confusion a date change would cause, as well as the preparations broadcasters have been making for the Feb. 17 date, and said he believes that if the date is moved, no one will believe that the new date is actually the final one.
"It is important for us to solve the coupon problem without moving the date," Martin said, although the decision about a date change ultimately rests with Congress.
When asked about regrets, Martin said he wished the commission had done more on his watch about competition in regards to cable, as cable service prices have steadily risen at a rate higher than that of inflation.
One thing Martin does not regret, however, is the approach the commission has taking in fining broadcasters for "indecency," because "I think it's important and the government has a role in protecting children." He added that he would like to see more enforcement to prevent such images as smoking and unhealthy food from appearing on programs specifically aimed at kids.