Marty Franks, Dean of Network Lobbyists, to Retire from CBS

Outgoing government affairs exec worked with Congress on retransmission consent and the repeal of the Fin/Syn rules

Marty Franks, CBS’s senior vice president for government affairs and the dean of TV network lobbyists in Washington, announced Wednesday he will retire Sept. 30 after a 25 years leading battles in Congress and the FCC.

CBS president CEO Leslie Moonves, announcing the retirement in a memo on Wednesday, credited Franks with the key role in getting Congress to approve retransmission consent and repeal the Financial Interest and Syndication Rules that had prevented networks from owning and later syndicating most of the entertainment programs they aired.

Moonves said both moves were the foundations of major revenue growth for the network.

“He was instrumental in enacting Retransmission Consent, and then helped turn it into what is now a fast-growing, nine-figure revenue source for our company,” wrote Moonves.

He said the Fin/Syn action allowed CBS to own and syndicate programs like "CSI."

“As a result, our 'CSI' franchise alone has earned more than $3 billion for the company, and the ownership of content has become a cornerstone of our success.”

While playing a behind the scenes role at the network, Franks was CBS’s top contact to Congress and the FCC and his role often put him in challenging fights.

Besides Fin/Syn and retransmission battles, Franks was in the midst of Congressional and FCC fights over the Prime Time Access Rule (which says how much hours a night networks can program) and he regularly faced the ire of Congress, notably over CBS’s airing of the Janet Jackson's Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction and Dan Rather’s "60 Minutes" report about President George W. Bush’s service in the Texas National Guard.

Franks, in a note to CBS colleagues on Wednesday, said it was time to retire.

“It has been a great run – enacting Retrans and then having the opportunity,  years later, to monetize it; the repeal of Fin/Syn and the Prime Time Access Rule; the '96 Telcom Act; setting up the industry’s minority investment fund; serving on the Boards of NAB, MSTV, the Ad Council, and especially the Sept. 11 Fund; CBS’s HDTV leadership; trying to uphold Broadcast Standards during a wardrobe malfunction, the content wars, my very own Chuck Lorre vanity card and two related and successful trips to the Supreme Court; CBS Cares, the CBS Foundation and CBS Corporate Philanthropy,” he wrote.