FCC chmn Kevin Martin is at odds with senior Republicans over whether broadcasters get multicast must-carry, and all of cable is hoping Congress wins this battle. House Commerce chmn Joe Barton (R-TX) and Telecom Subcommittee chmn Fred Upton (R-MI) sent a letter to Martin yesterday urging the FCC not to pass a multicast requirement. Sounding a lot like the cable industry, the 2 wrote, "We believe that allowing each broadcaster to force video distributors to carry multiple streams of the broadcaster’s programming rather than letting consumers’ preferences and market forces operate is contrary to the market-oriented philosophy that has guided communications policy during the Bush administration." Martin is also facing opposition in the other chamber, with Sen Commerce Chmn Ted Stevens (R-AK) challenging whether the FCC should even tackle multicasting. "I would hope that if it is going to be done, that it’ll be done by Congress and not by the FCC," Stevens told reporters after speaking to about 300 at a NCTA breakfast Wed. The fact that multicast must-carry is even being considered shows that Martin may lead the FCC differently with a Republican majority than he did with the Commission split, when he had to be more conciliatory. "I’m a little bit surprised we’re doing this," Democratic FCC commish Michael Copps said of the multicast vote during a New America Foundation lunch Wed. When asked later by CableFAX if his vote against multicast has changed since last year, Copps elaborated that "the situation has not changed drastically, but it doesn’t mean it can’t change drastically between now and the vote." Copps and fellow Dem Jonathan Adelstein have been adamant in their refusal to support multicast until public interest obligations are imposed on broadcasters. — The scuttlebutt we reported Tues was true. The FCC’s June agenda meeting has been postponed until June 21. Maybe the potential roadblock placed by Stevens on Martin’s multicast "fast track" is the reason for the reschedule; maybe new commish Robert McDowell needs more time to acquaint himself with all the clutter on said fast track.

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