Washington communications circles began reacting Friday afternoon to the news that Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), chairman of the Commerce Committee, would be retiring at the beginning of 2015, when his current term ends.
Rockefeller has been a champion of children, privacy, cybersecurity, and universal broadband, as well as FCC content regulation when it comes to protecting kids and creating broadcast incentive auctions to help fund emergency communications.
“I have tremendous respect for Sen. Rockefeller, both as a former Senate colleague and as a friend," said Gordon Smith, president of the National Association of Broadcasters and a former senator from Oregon. "His passion for public service is second to none, and NAB looks forward to working with him over the next two years as he completes a remarkable political career.”
"During his 30 years in the Senate, Chairman Rockefeller has been a strong leader for the people of West Virginia and all consumers, ensuring that schoolchildren everywhere have access to the Internet through the E-Rate program and establishing the nationwide public safety communications network called for by the 9/11 Commission," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who himself was instrumental in implementing the e-rate program while a top staffer at the FCC in the 1990's. "Chairman Rockefeller’s fierce advocacy for consumers and unwavering commitment to advancing the public interest have improved the lives of countless Americans. I look forward to continuing to work with him as he completes his term."
"Senator Rockefeller is an extraordinary public servant and a true statesman," said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, former top telecom aide to the Senator. "I was honored to have worked with him on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Over the next two years, I am sure that he will continue to be a guardian of consumers and active on a range of telecommunications issues including the E-Rate program and public safety. I look forward to continuing to work with him."
“The American Cable Association has nothing but the highest praise for Sen. Rockefeller, who has been a constant champion to ensure consumers have access to competitive communications markets and who speaks out when market power threatens the public interest," said American Cable Association President Matt Polka. "Rural America has had a terrific champion in Sen. Rockefeller, and ACA has appreciated working with him over the years.
“Sen. Rockefeller’s absence from the Senate will be felt for a long time, but ACA looks forward to engaging with him over the next two years on important communications issues," asid Polka. "We know Sen. Rockefeller will remain active and speak out on the issues important not only to the State of West Virginia but to all of rural America.” Rockefeller promised as much in announcing his retirement Friday at an event at the State Capital.
“For nearly three decades in the Senate, Senator Jay Rockefeller has championed the rights of consumers and has served the people of West Virginia with determination and grace," said Verizon SVP, federal government relations Peter Davidson. "His ongoing legacy in the area of telecommunications and technology – from his early work to create the Universal Service Program to his more recent spearheading of successful legislation for a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network – is profound. Upon his departure his informed leadership of the complex world of telecommunications policy will be sorely missed.”
"Senator Rockefeller is one of the giants of the United States Senate," said USTelecom President Walter McCormick, Jr. "His leadership on issues of telecommunications, trade, and national security has strengthened our nation, and his commitment to universal service, emergency communications, and public safety has improved the lives of all Americans. We will miss him when he retires, but look forward to having one last Congress to work with him at the helm of the Senate Commerce Committee."