Obama Taps FCC Republican

O’Rielly Would Fill Out McDowell's Remaining Term as Commissioner
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WASHINGTON — As expected, President Obama last week nominated longtime GOP congressional communications policy adviser Michael P. O’Rielly to be the next Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission.

O’Rielly will fill out the remaining term of Republican Robert McDowell, which runs through July 1, 2014, after which he will have to be renominated. The Senate is preparing to exit for its August break, so O’Rielly isn’t likely to join the FCC before late summer or early fall.

O’Rielly is policy adviser to Senate minority whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), and was a top technology and telecom policy adviser to former Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) and former Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.). The choice was Obama’s, but by custom dating to the Clinton White House, the president usually defers to the choice of Republican Senate leaders.

O’Rielly’s nomination must still be vetted and approved by the Senate Commerce Committee, which should pave the way for a full-Senate vote, and almost certainly approval, of both O’Rielly and chairman nominee Tom Wheeler, barring a hold, which can be placed by a single, unidentified senator.

NUMBERS GAME

With the voluntary broadcast spectrum incentive auctions coming soon, the number of over-the-air-only homes is a major point of contention between the Consumer Electronics Association and the National Association of Broadcasters. A CEA survey of 1,009 homes produced the 7% figure, while a GfK survey of 3,000 homes came up with larger one. The CEA, which represents firms eager to build devices that can tap into this spectrum, thinks its research shows the auctions are justified, while the NAB says not so fast — GfK’s research shows a significant slice of the population still needs OTA TV, while declaring that “CEA’s findings strain the bounds of credibility.” Ouch!

— Jeff Baumgartner

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