William Kennard will step down as FCC chairman on Friday, capping a three-year tenure marked by unprecedented media consolidation and a digital revolution that transformed the Internet into a mass-marketed service that competes with traditional television and radio.
"I've decided our work is completed and it's time for me to go," he told reporters Kennard, whose tenure has been plagued by constant criticism from Capitol Hill Republicans, said he sent a letter of resignation to President Clinton.
He plans to become a senior fellow at the Aspen Institute, to "figure out what's next for me." His "top priority," he said, will be to spend more time with his 10-month-old son.
Commissioner Susan Ness generated inadvertent chuckles at a Jan. 11 farewell meeting when her visage on the big-screen projector was accompanied by the name of Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth, one of Kennard's most frequent critics. The commissioners, who weren't watching the screen, were momentarily baffled when laughter broke out in the middle of Ness' sentimental comments. "Sounds like closed captioning has achieved another mark of excellence," she quipped after she caught on.
Commissioner Michael Powell, who is likely to follow Kennard in the chairman's seat, also gave Kennard a warm send-off. "When I think of you, I think of a single word: champion. You are a champion for ideas, for people, for principles," he said. "Those of us who are left here will always see your footprint in the sand."