At a sometimes contentious hearing before the House Telecommunications and Internet subcommittee on Wednesday, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin defended the FCC’s decision last December to impose time and other limits on the processing of competitive video franchise applications by local governments, as House Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) suggested that the agency may have overstepped statutory boundaries in approving the order. Together with his four colleagues, Martin testified before the subcommittee in what was touted as the first joint appearance by all five FCC commissioners before that panel in more than three years. Topics of discussion ranged from rural access to broadband services to conditions attached to the AT&T-BellSouth merger to the upgrading of emergency communications systems. The FCC’s recent video franchise order (adopted along partisan lines by a 3-2 vote), however, captured the greatest attention. Although Martin stressed that the FCC’s purpose in adopting the video franchise order was to create competition in the multichannel video distribution industry by removing “unreasonable barriers to entry,” Dingell charged the FCC with “[straying] from its sole duty—that is, to implement the laws as passed by Congress.” While voicing support for the Commission’s goal of competition and lower prices, Dingell asserted, nevertheless, that “the FCC is not a legislative body,” adding: “if reform of . . . regulatory structure is necessary, then it is Congress’ prerogative to take such action as we have done before.” In further comments, Martin explained that “the statute is actually clear that local franchising authorities cannot unreasonably refuse to award a second franchise, and all we were doing is describing under the Telecommunications Act what some of the parameters of unreasonably refusing to award those franchises were.”