DTV Remains FCC Priority for Near Term

PPM probe is in limbo.
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PPM probe is in limbo.

Federal agency review teams for President-elect Barack Obama are descending on federal offices, including the FCC's. They are asking questions — about agency initiatives, budgets and documents. Their job is to minimize the tension between incoming and outgoing administrations.

Chairman Kevin Martin has met with the team assigned to the commission. And though he wouldn't tell reporters at a briefing Wednesday exactly what's being discussed, he did answer a question about what industry issues the next agency chairman will face.

In a word: "DTV." He called the Feb. 17, 2009 deadline for the television transition from analog to digital a "significant issue" and said "that's why we're spending so much time on it."

Martin wouldn't say whether he intends to remain at the FCC once Obama is sworn in on Jan. 20; observers predict he will leave soon after.

Of the one radio issue discussed at the briefing, Martin said he hasn't made a decision about whether the commission will get involved in the dispute over how the Arbitron Portable People Meter counts minorities. The commission accepted public comments on the issue; Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein recently pressed for a formal review.

Martin said he's met with public interest groups and minority broadcasters about PPM; however with his time becoming pressed at the agency it's clear that all things DTV-related are his priority.