News

President Obama Nominates Genachowski As FCC Chairman

3/03/2009 6:51 PM Eastern

President Barack Obama Tuesday expressed his intent to nominate Julius Genachowski to be chairman of the FCC.

Genachowski has been a tech policy advisor to the president with a background in law, policy and the business of communications.

presumptive FCC commissioner Julius GenachowskiThe administration signaled the pick several weeks ago.

"I can think of no one better than Julius Genachowski to serve as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, "said Obama. "He will bring to the job diverse and unparalleled experience in communications and technology, with two decades of accomplishment in the private sector and public service. I know him as the son of immigrants who carries a deep appreciation for this country and the American dream; and as the proud father of three children working with his wife Rachel to be responsible parents in this digital age."

Genachowski, a former Harvard Law School classmate of Obama's, helped draft the Obama campaign's tech policy plan, which some at the time boiled down to "open government, open networks, and open markets."

Only days after the election, he was tapped along with another Hundt lieutenant, Blair Levin, to draft tech policy for the new administration.
Genachowski had been thought to be a top candidate for a new tech czar post Obama is creating, so long as its powers were well-defined--and it actually had powers. That job description has remained sufficiently nebulous that the top FCC post appears the more attractive to someone looking to affect communications policy.

Genachowski has a range of experience in the law, business, politics, communications, and new media to draw on.

He is co-founder of venture capital firm Rock Creek Ventures, a former adviser to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, and was a senior executive from 1997 to 2005 at Barry Diller's Internet company, IAC/InterActiveCorp. He is also former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice David Souter and retired Justice William Brennan. His congressional experience includes the staff of the Joint Select Committee on Iran-Contra and in the office of then Rep. Charles Schumer of New York.

Genachowski must still be approved by Congress, with a confirmation in the relevant Senate committee--in this case the Senate Commerce Committee Chairman by Jay Rockefeller (D-WVA)--and then a floor vote. The average elapsed time between nomination and approval is a couple of months, said one veteran nomination watcher, depending on the committee's schedule. Rockefeller's press sectretary was checking into the possible timing of a nomination hearing at press time.

Industry response poured in to Genachowski's nomination.

"We congratulate Julius Genachowski on his nomination as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission," said National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow in a statement. "He is an excellent choice, and combines the policy savvy and real-world experience that will be necessary to confront both the challenges and opportunities presented at a time of incredible change sweeping the media, communications and technology marketplace. We look forward to working with Julius and the entire commission as they seek to chart a course that contributes to our economic recovery and benefits all Americans."

Noted Public Knowledge president Gigi Sohn: "We are pleased that President Obama today announced his intent to nominate Julius Genachowski to be the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Julius is an outstanding choice for FCC Chairman. As the architect of President-elect Obama's Technology and Innovation Plan, it is clear that he understands the importance of open networks and a regulatory environment that promotes innovation and competition to a robust democracy and a health economy."

"Julius Genachowski is one of the best-qualified appointees ever named to head the FCC," said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president and CEO of Media Access Project. "We look forward to having a more transparently-operating FCC which will promote the free flow of information on all electronic media. The fact that Julius is a close confidante of the President is especially important, as it demonstrates the high priority that this Administration will place on developing proactive media and telecommunications policy."

 "Julius Genachowski is a great pick to lead the agency at this time. He possesses an impressive mix of government and legal experience, business and entrepreneurial drive, and a vision for how the broadband era can positively impact our country," said AT&T Senior executive vice president, external and legislastive affairs, Jim Cicconi. "I'm confident that Julius Genachowski will follow through on the President's goal of furthering broadband deployment by formulating a national broadband strategy."
The president's economic stimulus package has billions for broadband and a charter to the FCC to come up with a plan within a year to build out the entire country.
"Julius Genachowski is an excellent choice to lead the FCC," said Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press. "Throughout his career, he has shown a deep understanding of the central role of technology in shaping our 21st-century economy and democracy. We urge the Senate to move Genachowski swiftly through the confirmation process, and we look forward to working with him to tackle America's most pressing media and technology issues."
The Parents Television Council, which had ally in former FCC chairman Kevin Martin when it came to cracking down on indecency, called on Genachowski to follow suit.

"We congratulate Mr. Genachowski on his nomination to serve as the next chairman of the FCC. We hope the FCC under his leadership will be committed to putting the public interest ahead of the corporate interest," said PTC president Tim Winter. "Among the numerous issues that fall under FCC oversight, broadcast decency and cable choice are of critical importance to parents and families. We call on the FCC to focus squarely on its legal obligation to uphold broadcast decency standards."

American Cable Association president and CEO Matt Polka noted: "The president has made a good choice to head a crucial agency like the FCC at a time of rapid technological change. Under Genachowski's leadership, we hope the FCC will appreciate that small, independent cable operators have made the investment needed to provide high-speed Internet access to millions of Americans living in rural communities in all 50 states. We look forward to working with Genachowski on developing new approaches to broadband deployment following his Senate confirmation."

 

"The Internet has thrived due to policies of regulatory restraint initiated a decade ago by FCC chairman William Kennard," Polka added. "We are eager to show the new chairman how broadband customers of ACA members are benefiting from a legal climate that gives network owners a fair amount of autonomy to manage their networks."

Three current members of the FCC also weighed in on the nomination.

"President Obama has made an excellent choice in announcing his intent to nominate Julius Genachowski to be the next Chairman of the FCC," said the current acting chairman, Michael Copps. "Julius has the knowledge, experience and dedication to lead this Agency forward as we tackle the many challenges confronting the country - and the Commission. I look forward to the prospect of working with him on a communications agenda focused on serving consumers and the public interest. He will find here a talented and energized team of public servants committed to precisely this goal. I wish him a successful Senate confirmation."

"I warmly congratulate my friend Julius Genachowski on his nomination by President Barack Obama to be chairman of the Federal Communications Commission," said Democratic Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. "He is the right person at the right time for the job. His leadership, experience and intelligence will serve him and the American people well, as he takes the helm of the FCC during this pivotal time for our country and the agency."

Added FCC commissioner Robert McDowell:  "I congratulate Julius Genachowski on his nomination to be chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He will bring a valuable perspective to the Commission with his experience not only in government but also in the private sector. I look forward to working closely with Mr. Genachowski on the many important communications challenges that lie ahead for the American people."

It is actually the second round of congratulations, given that Genachoswki had been the presumptive nominee for the past six or seven weeks. The first round came in early January after sources that Genachowski was the one.