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President Obama Nominates Genachowski As FCC Chairman

By: John Eggerton, Multichannel News

President Barack Obama Tuesday expressed his intent to nominate Julius Genachowski to be chairman of the FCC.

Genachowski has been a tech policy advisor to the president with a background in law, policy and the business of communications.

presumptive FCC commissioner Julius GenachowskiThe administration signaled the pick several weeks ago.

"I can think of no one better than Julius Genachowski to serve as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, "said Obama. "He will bring to the job diverse and unparalleled experience in communications and technology, with two decades of accomplishment in the private sector and public service. I know him as the son of immigrants who carries a deep appreciation for this country and the American dream; and as the proud father of three children working with his wife Rachel to be responsible parents in this digital age."

Genachowski, a former Harvard Law School classmate of Obama's, helped draft the Obama campaign's tech policy plan, which some at the time boiled down to "open government, open networks, and open markets."

Only days after the election, he was tapped along with another Hundt lieutenant, Blair Levin, to draft tech policy for the new administration.
Genachowski had been thought to be a top candidate for a new tech czar post Obama is creating, so long as its powers were well-defined--and it actually had powers. That job description has remained sufficiently nebulous that the top FCC post appears the more attractive to someone looking to affect communications policy.

Genachowski has a range of experience in the law, business, politics, communications, and new media to draw on.

He is co-founder of venture capital firm Rock Creek Ventures, a former adviser to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, and was a senior executive from 1997 to 2005 at Barry Diller's Internet company, IAC/InterActiveCorp. He is also former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice David Souter and retired Justice William Brennan. His congressional experience includes the staff of the Joint Select Committee on Iran-Contra and in the office of then Rep. Charles Schumer of New York.

Genachowski must still be approved by Congress, with a confirmation in the relevant Senate committee--in this case the Senate Commerce Committee Chairman by Jay Rockefeller (D-WVA)--and then a floor vote. The average elapsed time between nomination and approval is a couple of months, said one veteran nomination watcher, depending on the committee's schedule. Rockefeller's press sectretary was checking into the possible timing of a nomination hearing at press time.

Industry response poured in to Genachowski's nomination.

"We congratulate Julius Genachowski on his nomination as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission," saidNational Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow in a statement. "He is an excellent choice, and combines the policy savvy and real-world experience that will be necessary to confront both the challenges and opportunities presented at a time of incredible change sweeping the media, communications and technology marketplace. We look forward to working with Julius and the entire commission as they seek to chart a course that contributes to our economic recovery and benefits all Americans."

Noted Public Knowledge president Gigi Sohn: "We are pleased that President Obama today announced his intent to nominate Julius Genachowski to be the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Julius is an outstanding choice for FCC Chairman. As the architect of President-elect Obama's Technology and Innovation Plan, it is clear that he understands the importance of open networks and a regulatory environment that promotes innovation and competition to a robust democracy and a health economy."

"I have known Julius for over 15 years, both as a public servant and as a savvy and progressive businessman. He worked with me to promote the public interest in communications in his role as chief counsel to then-FCC Chairman Reed Hundt and then as an aide to Barry Diller when Diller and I were members of the Advisory Committee on the Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters (Gore Commission)."

"Julius Genachowski is one of the best-qualified appointees ever named to head the FCC," said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president and CEO of Media Access Project. "We look forward to having a more transparently-operating FCC which will promote the free flow of information on all electronic media. The fact that Julius is a close confidant of the President is especially important, as it demonstrates the high priority that this Administration will place on developing proactive media and telecommunications policy."

Two current members of the FCC also weighed in on the nomination.

"President Obama has made an excellent choice in announcing his intent to nominate Julius Genachowski to be the next Chairman of the FCC," said the current acting chairman, Michael Copps. "Julius has the knowledge, experience and dedication to lead this Agency forward as we tackle the many challenges confronting the country - and the Commission. I look forward to the prospect of working with him on a communications agenda focused on serving consumers and the public interest. He will find here a talented and energized team of public servants committed to precisely this goal. I wish him a successful Senate confirmation."

"I warmly congratulate my friend Julius Genachowski on his nomination by President Barack Obama to be chairman of the Federal Communications Commission," said Democratic Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. "He is the right person at the right time for the job. His leadership, experience and intelligence will serve him and the American people well, as he takes the helm of the FCC during this pivotal time for our country and the agency."

Added FCC commissioner Robert McDowell:  "I congratulate Julius Genachowski on his nomination to be chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He will bring a valuable perspective to the Commission with his experience not only in government but also in the private sector. I look forward to working closely with Mr. Genachowski on the many important communications challenges that lie ahead for the American people."

It is actually the second round of congratulations, given that Genachoswki had been the presumptive nominee for the past six or seven weeks. The first round came in early January after sources that Genachowski was the one.


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