FCC chairman defends commission practices

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin defended the agency’s rule-making procedures and management practices on Wednesday, a day after a congressional committee said it would investigate.

“The practices at the commission I run are very similar to how the commission has been managed under previous Republican and Democratic commissioners and chairmen,” Martin, a Republican, told reporters after speaking to the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition’s and Citizenship Education Fund’s Wall Street Project economic summit in New York.

“I was actually at the commission as a staffer when there were Democratic commissioners and a Democratic chairman, and we run the processes in the same way they were run at the time,” said Martin.

Martin’s comments came amid growing friction between Martin and some lawmakers. The House Energy and Commerce committee said Tuesday it launched a formal investigation to determine if the agency had been fair, open, efficient and transparent when crafting regulations.

The panel did not cite a specific case in a letter announcing the investigation, but the probe comes three weeks after Martin defied lawmakers by holding a vote to ease media ownership restrictions.

Committee Chairman John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, and ranking Republican Joe Barton of Texas asked Martin to save all electronic records and personal e-mails related to FCC work.

The probe would also “address a growing number of allegations received by the committee” about management practices, they said in the letter sent to Martin.

“I think the letter speaks for itself as far as the rules we’re supposed to follow in terms of an investigation,” Martin said. “Now, we’re not supposed to destroy documents until they put in their document request, and of course we’ll follow those rules.”

Editing by Brian Moss