McDowell Reaction Keeps on Coming

Sen. Thune Calls Him Fighter for Markets; ACA Praises Mastery of Complicated Issues 3/20/2013 12:19 PM Eastern

Electronic transoms were flooding Wednesday as industry and Hill players continued to react to the news that FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell would be exiting the commission after almost seven years, which he announced at the FCC's Wednesday public meeting.

Ranking Senate Commerce Committee John Thune (R-S.D.), who is expected to have a hand in selecting a successor to McDowell, called him a freedom fighter for markets and ideas. "As we have seen with his recent leadership on efforts to prevent foreign government intervention in the operation and use of the Internet, Rob has been a consistent voice cautioning against unnecessary governmental regulations. I hope the president's nominee to replace him will approach the job with the same passion and energy that Rob exhibited and will be similarly committed to finding market-based solutions to our nation's communications challenges whenever possible."

American Cable Association President Matt Polka praised McDowell for his "distinguished career" at the commission, "where he demonstrated an impressive mastery of the complicated regulatory framework that governs the communications industry, including independent cable operators."

A common theme among many commenters Wednesday was the intellectual rigor McDowell has brought to his decision making. "ACA always regarded Commissioner McDowell as an honest broker who searched for the right answer based on the law, the facts and the public interest. Commissioner McDowell was a model public servant noted for his sharp mind, quick wit, and generous spirit," Polka added.

"We appreciate the energy and enthusiasm he brought to his work, his strong interest in technology and innovation, and his leadership most recently in the international arena where he has been a strong advocate against efforts to regulate the Internet," said US Telecom president Walter McCormick.

"I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my friend Rob for his years of service at the FCC," said CTIA President Steve Largent. "Rob has been a forward thinker when it comes to communications policy and a strong voice that encouraged the evolution of the dynamic wireless ecosystem. We wish him the best in his future endeavors."

The Parents Television Counsel praised McDowell for trying to goose the pace of FCC dispensation of indecency complaints. "His voice and expertise have been invaluable on a number of key issues before the Commission, particularly the FCC's lethargic pace of enforcement of broadcast decency law," said PTC president Tim Winter, who took the opportunity to press the Obama Administration to name a successor "committed to the consistent, sound enforcement of broadcast decency law."

That is more under the control of the chairman, however. Genachowski has indicated the FCC is not going after any but egregious cases, which have actually helped it start to clear the backlog of complaints McDowell has been pushing for action on, since those complaints can hold up license renewals or impede sales.

McDowell had requested that his colleagues on the commission hold the applause for a later date, but all violated the request.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski called McDowell "an extraordinary colleague, creative, wise and a great partner on the commission." He called him "essential" to many FCC achievements that would not have happened without him and has "always improved the quality of [the FCC's] work." He said they had worked through countless issues, a process he has "thoroughly enjoyed."

Fellow commissioner Mignon Clyburn fought back tears at the meeting as she talked of McDowell's loyal friendship and support.  "His background and ideals have been invaluable to the Commission, and his keen insights and deep intellect have helped me grow as a regulator," she said in statement. "He is both a trusted ally and at times a worthy adversary, but to sum it all, Commissioner McDowell stands for America, her citizens, her entrepreneurs and her innovators."

"He is smart, insightful and deeply knowledgeable about all things communications," said Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. She joked that she thought she understood spectral interference before I arrived at the commission -- she was a top telecom advisor to the Senate Commerce Committee -- "but Rob has now explained to me that noninterference is, in fact, the 'prime directive."

Commissioner Ajit Pai rounded out the unsolicited comments: "Rob had been a terrific colleague," including even before he joined the commission when Pai's (and Rosenworcel's) nomination was held up or months due to a hold unrelated to his qualifications. "He has proven to be a consistently wonderful colleague. He is just the model public servant in so many ways. I don't know what we are going to do without him, but I am hopeful that the chairman and my colleagues agree that I ought to have two votes."

Want to read more stories like this?
Get our Free Newsletter Here!