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Martin: Finalizing HD-R Rules FCC Priority

Kevin Martin says finalizing HD Radio rules is one of his agency's top priorities.

Kevin Martin says finalizing HD Radio rules is one of his agency’s top priorities.

That’s what the commission chairman told NAB Radio Board Chairman Russ Withers during Thursday’s FCC Breakfast here at The NAB Radio Show. Finalizing rules regarding subscription services will be important, too, Martin said.

“We want to encourage the radio industry to take advantage of what digital radio offers. The burden is on us to finalize those rules so they’ll be able to do digital services,” he said.

Asked how long he thought radio’s digital transition would take, Martin said, “I think the easiest way to make that decision from a consumer standpoint is to let that transition occur naturally.”

Regarding radio ownership, Martin said rather than applying more public interest obligations on stations, it would help if the commission could better quantify what broadcasters do for their local communities. The FCC is updating related forms and intends to place those online.

As for the proposed merger of the satellite radio companies, the chairman said in general that there’s a high threshold of proof that the merger is justified, though he said, “I think they’ve come forward with ways for consumers to be still protected.”

The FCC has targeted wrapping up its analysis of the merger by the end of the year; the agency will analyze the deal carefully, Martin said. The DOJ is also scrutinizing the deal.