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More Clarity to Come on FCC Voting Items?

This FCC chairman is thinking about his legacy.

This FCC chairman is thinking about his legacy.

Sensitive to charges from his colleagues and industry folks outside the agency who’ve said it’s hard to get a handle on the final details of items before public votes, Kevin Martin wants to change some procedures at the FCC to get the word out earlier on what items are likely to come to a vote at the agency’s public meetings.

Presumably this would be in more detail than that already contained in the Sunshine Notice issued a week before each meeting, as well as more depth than the list of items on circulation now on the commission Web site.

Some internal processes would need to change to make this happen, he told reporters recently; he also wants to ask his colleagues for their input. To be clear, the guts of proposed transactions wouldn’t be divulged early.

How early the information would be available and in what form it would take, is yet to be determined, the chairman said, although he alluded it might be in the form of a Public Notice.

One thing wouldn’t change. The list of items to be voted on would remain tentative. Items could drop off the list before the meeting.

He briefed a group of us about four TV items and two wireless items that could make it to the agenda for the next public meeting on the 26th. One of those TV items is a transaction between News Corp. and Liberty Media Corp. in which News Corp. would swap its stake in satellite-television operator DirecTV Group Inc. for Liberty’s stake in News Corp.

He has asked his colleagues to vote on the item by the meeting date. He said he would vote to approve the deal, which has been pending FCC and DOJ approval for more than a year.

Martin had nothing to add about another pending deal, the proposed satellite radio merger.

The first anniversary of the merger announcement is Feb. 19, next Tuesday. Experts differ on whether the length of time this deal is being reviewed by regulators is significant. Certainly if approved, the transaction opens the floodgates for similar mergers with proponents claiming one type listening (or viewing) can be substituted for another.