Those Who Would Lead the FCC

Nov 9, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The upcoming changeover to digital TV signals could dramatically rush the naming and confirmation of President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to head the Federal Communications Commission.
There is speculation that the changeover—to take place less than a month after Sen. Obama assumes the office of president—could prompt the new administration and the Senate Commerce Committee to move up the confirmation to the administration’s first days.
Sen. Obama takes office Jan. 20. The nation’s digital transition takes place Feb. 17. Because it normally takes several months for a new FCC chairman to be confirmed, tradition dictates that when a president of the opposite party takes over, an FCC commissioner of his party is designated temporary chairman.
A deal for quick confirmation would lessen or eliminate any need for the new president to designate either Michael Copps or Jonathan Adelstein temporary FCC chairman, replacing current FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.
Spokesmen for the Obama transition team didn’t respond to messages seeking comment and a spokesman for the Senate Commerce Committee declined comment.
The possibility of moving quickly to name a new FCC chairman comes as the president-elect’s advisers start examining potential choices to head the FCC.
The two current Democratic commissioners are candidates, but a number of other names are being mentioned as well. Among them:
Blair Levin. Chief of staff for Democratic FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, Mr. Levin has an extensive understanding of FCC issues. He is now a telecom analyst for Stifel Nicolaus. Mr. Levin declined comment.
Julius Genachowski. A close friend and Harvard Law School classmate of Mr. Obama, Mr. Genachowski played a major role in writing the campaign’s telecom and media platform and helped raise campaign funds. He’s also a member of the president-elect’s transition team. He would likely be a first choice, but may be in line for another administration post, perhaps the new chief technology officer position Mr. Obama wants. Mr. Genachowski was chief counselor for former FCC chairman Mr. Hundt and subsequently an executive for Barry Diller’s IAC/Interactive. He is now an investor and technology strategist. He referred any comments to a transition team spokesman, who didn’t respond to messages requesting comment.
Henry Rivera. An attorney and FCC commissioner from 1981-85, Mr. Rivera, according to one unconfirmed report, will head the FCC transition for the president-elect’s office. Mr. Rivera has specialized in communications law and recently chaired the FCC’s advisory committee on diversity in the digital age. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Donald Gips. Also a member of the transition team, Mr. Gips is a former chief of the FCC’s international bureau and group VP of corporate strategy and development for Level 3 Communications. He was Vice President Al Gore’s chief domestic policy adviser. He could not be reached for comment.
Karen Kornbluh. An economist and former deputy chief of the FCC’s Mass Media Bureau, Ms. Kornbluh was policy director for the Obama campaign. In the Clinton administration, she was deputy chief of staff to then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. She couldn’t be reached for comment.
Scott Blake Harris. A former head of the FCC’s international bureau, the oft-quoted Mr. Harris is managing partner of the law firm of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis, where he maintains a practice that includes communications law. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Dick Reingold. A former general manager of a Washington, D.C., TV station, Mr. Reingold heads Cerberus Capital Management’s TV unit, Four Points Media Group. He couldn’t be reached for comment.
Daniel Sepulveda. An economics policy officer for Sen. Obama’s Senate office, Mr. Sepulveda has been involved in media issues. He couldn’t be reached for comment.


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