The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission announced today that he will be stepping down from the post on Jan. 20, 2017 — the same day Donald Trump will be inaugurated as president.
ABC News notes that the departure of Wheeler, a Democrat, will leave a 2-1 GOP majority on the panel, which has five commissioners when fully staffed. The commission is generally expected to begin overturning or cutting back measures that have been pushed through by Wheeler during his three-year tenure on the panel.
“Serving as FCC chairman during this period of historic technological change has been the greatest honor of my professional life,” Wheeler said in a statement released today. “I am deeply grateful to the president for giving me this opportunity. I am especially thankful to the talented commission staff for their service and sacrifice during my tenure. Their achievements have contributed to a thriving communications sector, where robust investment and world-leading innovation continue to drive our economy and meaningful improvements in the lives of the American people.”
GOP Commissioner Ajit Pai is expected to be appointed interim chairman.
The ABC News report quotes Wells Fargo’s Marci Ryvicker, in a note to investors, saying of Wheeler’s exit: “This is good news for all of our sectors, especially broadcast and cable — as we believe that a 2-1 commission would allow for expedited deregulation — clearly a much better option than having to wait until mid-2017. We expect broadcast and cable stocks to be up on today’s news as another potential overhang has been removed.”