News

Obama Makes Second FCC Pick

5/02/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

The Obama administration last week made its second pick for the Federal Communications Commission, tapping South Carolina Public Service Commissioner Mignon Clyburn for the Democratic seat being vacated by Jonathan Adelstein.

She is the daughter of House Majority Whip James Clyburn.

But there has still been no confirmation hearing for the administration’s first pick, Julius Genachowski, and likely won’t be one until key Republican senators — ranking Communications Subcommittee member Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — can agree on a candidate for the open GOP seat.

One veteran of the process says it will likely be a two-fer, with Genachowski and Clyburn paired with either Republican commissioner Robert McDowell and one of three main contenders for the open Republican seat, or with two from that list if McDowell is not renominated.

The Republican nominee is also the president’s pick to make, but he usually goes along with the top Republicans’ selection.

Clyburn is also a member of the Association of South Carolina Black Journalists, having once been publisher, general manager and editor of The Coastal Times in Charleston, S.C.

Familiar with running a newspaper, she would bring real-world experience to the issues of minority ownership, which acting FCC chairman Michael Copps has teed up as a commission priority, as well as first-hand knowledge of the problems facing the newspaper industry. The FCC will have to give a fresh look to newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership restrictions in its upcoming, congressionally mandated review of all its rules.

Clyburn would also lend some diversity to a commission composed of mostly white males since the departure of Deborah Taylor Tate in January

One of the top candidates for Tate’s seat is said to be FCC deputy general counsel Ajit Pai, who is being pushed by his former boss, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.).

Another contender is Meredith Attwell Baker, former head of the National Telecommunications & Infrastructure Administration who was acting administrator for the digital-to-analog TV converter-box coupon program.

September