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This week in the FCC

FCC's new chairman says he will favor deregulation to foster change in the telecom industry and will make media indecency a high priority.

Kevin Martin, the Federal Communications Commission's new chairman, says he will continue favoring deregulation to foster change in the telecommunications industry.

During an onstage interview at a cable industry convention in San Francisco, Martin also sounded off on the hot-button issue of TV indecency.

Kevin Martin
chairman, FCC

Martin is expected to put a higher priority on media indecency than his predecessor. Although Martin has not confronted this issue yet, he said the growing tide of complaints makes him take the issue seriously.

Meanwhile, executives from leading media companies who gathered at the conference, which was sponsored by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, said the government's Dec. 31, 2006, deadline for the transition to digital television is unrealistic.

"It's realistic if you're comfortable with chaos," one executive chided. "It's a probable disaster."

On a related note, the long-running icy relationship between high-tech and the cable industries may be thawing. A panel at the conference that included Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen sounded off on ways cable and Silicon Valley can collaborate.

Cable companies are now the nation's largest broadband Internet providers, giving the industry considerable power in dictating what consumers can get over their pipes. But both sides believe current trends could push the two together.

Allen, who owns a controlling stake in cable company Charter Communications, views the concept as a question of how to bring broadband to more devices in the living room. He added that compatibility between the cable network and a variety of devices, be they cell phones or set-top boxes, is essential for the industry to evolve.