Groups Offer Their Two Cents on Who Should Chair FCC Next


By Haley Tsukayama

Groups are rushing to give President Obama their two cents on who should be the next chair of the Federal Communications Commission following Julius Genachowski’s announcement last week that he would step down from the post.

Over 25 organizations wrote to Obama on Tuesday, urging him to appoint a strong public interest advocate to lead the agency, criticizing Genachowski’s tenure.

The administration, the groups said, “must recognize the severe mismanagement and lack of progress that occurred” under Genachowski’s leadership and urged the president to consider someone without strong ties to industry lobbying groups.

“We expect that the administration will put the FCC back on course to do its job for this country and choose a nominee who will protect the future of communications for all,” wrote the groups, which include the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund and Center for Media Justice.

Public interest groups are not the only ones weighing in on who should succeed Genachowski.

In a letter dated last week, 37 senators, including Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) wrote to Obama asking him to consider appointing current FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to take Genachowski’s place. Rosenworcel was confirmed to the commission in May, having previously served as legal adviser to former commissioner Michael Copps.

If appointed, Rosenworcel would be the first woman to hold the position. The letter points to her expertise and experience in the world of telecommunications and media policy, and that she had strong bipartisan support during her confirmation hearings. The letter also notes that appointing a sitting commissioner means Obama can “quickly install a proven leader at this important agency” and avoid delays that outside candidates may face.

Top candidates for chairman, The Washington Post reported earlier this month, include tech and telecom venture capitalist Tom Wheeler, who was a fundraiser for President Obama; Obama’s ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Karen Kornbluh; and head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Commerce Department’s tech and advisory policy arm, Lawrence Strickling.