McDowell to Leave FCC
Is longest serving current member of commission
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/20/2013 11:56:14 AM
McDowell is the longest-serving current commissioner, having joined the commission in 2006 to fill the unexpired term of chairman Michael Powell. His first term ended June 1, 2009, but he was renominated by President Obama and confirmed for a new, five-year term.
McDowell suggested he has no new job lined up. ""I will be talking to the FCC's chief ethics officer to make sure that my departure will be in full compliance with not only the letter but the spirit of all of our ethics rules. And beyond that, I have absolutely no plans other than to take my family on a much-needed vacation," which begins the end of this week.
McDowell had been in the conversation for chairman if Mitt Romney had won the White House.
His chief of staff, Angela Giancarlo, announced last month she was leaving.
"Commissioner McDowell has been an exemplary public servant," said David Cohen, executive VP, Comcast Corp. "His wisdom, practicality and hard work all contribute to the widespread respect that everyone has for him. Commissioner McDowell's tireless efforts to promote a free and unregulated Internet, reform Universal Service and keep the U.S. at the forefront of International telecommunications policy are just a few of his many notable accomplishments. We wish him all the best and congratulate him on his very successful seven year tenure at the FCC."
McDowell's exit will allow Republicans in Congress to pair up a new nominee from each party if, as expected, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski also exits the commission.
Technically the pick of FCC nominees is the president's to make, but ever since Bill Clinton deferred to Republican leadership for names to fill Republican seats, the custom is that top Senate Republicans -- in this case Sens. Mitch McConnell, minority leader, and John Thune, ranking Commerce Committee member (R-S.D.) -- get to make the call.
Among the names immediately surfacing as possible successors to McDowell: Neil Fried, senior telecommunications counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Ray Baum, former Oregon Public Utility Commission chairman and current top adviser to House Communications Subcommittee Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.); Michael O'Rielly, a staffer with Senate Republican John Cornyn (Tex.); and former Scripps Networks Chief Legal Officer A.B. Cruz, who is Latino and whose name also surfaced for the Republican seat eventually taken by Ajit Pai.
At the commission, McDowell has been a free market fan as well as a voice of caution that some of the FCC's decisions could have trouble passing muster in the courts. He has also been a consistent warning voice about international efforts to undermine the multistakeholder model of Internet governance.
In announcing its intention to re-nominate McDowell in 2009, the White House pointed to broadband issues and advancement of unlicensed wireless devices in the TV spectrum space among its reasons for supporting renomination.
The White House said that McDowell had "collaborated with his fellow commissioners to develop and establish American communications policy covering the wireless, media, and Internet industries, in addition to international policy matters. Among other matters, he has worked to create rules governing wireless auctions; establish a framework for unlicensed use of TV 'white spaces' spectrum; develop incentives to encourage the development of new broadband technologies; review public interest benefits as part of the approval process of proposed corporate mergers; and adjudicate enforcement proceedings."
He has also consistently called for deregulating broadcast ownership, and clearing the regulatory underbrush in general, given the changes in the marketplace.
He was a strong opponent of the so-called fairness doctrine, which the FCC eventually struck from the books after McDowell pointed out that it remained in the rulebook. Although the FCC had not enforced the doctrine, which required broadcasters to affirmatively seek out opposing viewpoints on controversial issues, in almost a quarter century, it continued to cast a shadow over the agency from the viewpoint of many Republicans, broadcasters (particularly religious broadcasters) and others concerned about the speech regulation implications of its return.
The FCC has totally failed the American people. It refuses to break up the Internet monopolies. It refuses to unify the broadband internet backbone for common use; a basic feature of the rest of the world, which increases speeds while lowering prices across the board.
As a result, Americans pay $100 more a month than France, for slower, inferior, and less dependable service.
Ben_Schainker - 3/20/2013 2:47:23 PM EDT
I wonder if he'll be taking a job with a telecom or going the lobbyist route, or if he will find another public servant role.
I think the FCC has been too lenient on the wireless industry (as in cell phones and wireless internet) and allowed the mergers to go forward despite the companies' costs going down and their market share increasing too much, to monopolistic behemoths. With only 4 major carriers, something needs to be done to break them up! It was good when Jimmy Carter did it, stockholders saw profits, workers saw wage and benefits increase and/or competing for their labor, the CEO's still got rich, and it was a win win for consumers.
Mike Frost - 3/20/2013 1:46:26 PM EDT
No related content found.
No Top Articles