Will The New FCC Chair Fight For Reform?
The President nominated Tom Wheeler to replace Julius Genachowski as the next FCC Chair yesterday. Wheeler is a one-time bundler for the Obama campaign and a former lobbyist for the wireless and cable industries.
The telecommunications industry has heaped praise on him. That is enough to disqualify him for some people, but we think it’s too early to pass judgment. In the past he’s spoken or blogged in support of network neutrality and consumer protection – positions the likes of Verizon would disagree with. As Jon Brodkin of Ars Technica concludes, “Wheeler’s writing is nuanced enough that it’s hard to draw straight lines between his blog posts and his future as commissioner.” Indeed.
Ultimately, though, what matters is not the person who chairs the FCC, but how that person stands up for broadband competition, takes on the media monopolists, and makes political ad disclosure a reality.
“These are ambitious but necessary reforms. Their time is now. I look forward to working with Tom to achieve these goals. It will take innovative thought and regulatory courage to make them happen,” as former FCC Commissioner and Special Adviser to the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative Michael Copps put it yesterday in our statement.
Take a look at the letter Common Cause and more than 40 other public interest groups sent to President Obama last month, outlining the priorities for the next FCC chair.