Name: Kevin Martin
Title: Chairman, FCC
Age: 40 (He turns 41 on Dec 14… send gifts and tributes to 445 12th Street SW; Washington, DC; 20554)
Why Him? We admit that Kevin Martin doesn’t exactly fit the Emperor Palpatine title perfectly. For one thing, John Malone is hardly his apprentice (In fact, cable probably wishes the more senior Dr. John would talk some sense into this youngster lording over the FCC). And we tend to be kind of hard on the guy… so we feel slightly guilty for comparing him to an evil Sith Lord. But alas, Martin’s seemingly messianic crusade to drive cable bosses bonkers and ignore their pleas for restraint and mercy… well, it’s very Emperor Palpatine-like, if you ask us. Furthermore, Martin seems so dogmatically convinced that he’s right about so many things despite evidence to the contrary that we have to wonder whether he was in fact an Earthly Emperor in a former life. The list of Martin’s obsessions runs long indeed: Mandated a la carte despite the FCC’s own 2004 study declaring it would raise overall prices to consumers (Like any good emperor, he simply had the study redone to match his worldview); Dual must-carry despite the heavy burden it would put on cable operators (especially small ones) without any real consumer benefit; Trying to reinstate the 30% cap on cable homes even though cable has never been less of a monopoly than today, thanks to the telco and DBS onslaught; Rejecting most of cable’s set-top integration ban waiver requests even as the industry works hard to perfect much more consumer-friendly downloadable security; Scheduling FCC meetings that start 10 hours late, forcing us all to wait around all day for the Commission to get its act together. And now he wants to revive the 70/70 rule from the 1984 Cable Act? Huh?! Okay, we’ll stop here. We do have to hand it to Kevin Martin, though. Despite all of the criticism he gets from cable lobbyists and, of course from those of us in the cranky cable trade press, he just keeps moving forward more determined than ever. Hey, we have to admire that. Sort of. Well, not really… but let’s face it: This guy has cable jumping through hoops. And that equals influence and power. Period.