Chairman Mum on Future Plans Beyond Pushing FCC Agenda…and Lunch

The chairman of the FCC remains mum on whether he is planning to leave.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski would not respond to a press conference question Thursday about his short-term plans, beyond quipping that: “If you ask me when I am leaving, I’ll tell you I have a lunch reservation in 10 minutes.” He later added that he was actually having lunch in his office.

“I am working hard every day. We have a terrific agenda and I am focused on that agenda,” he added when pressed by another reporter on his plans. That echoed his answer over the last several months when asked whether he is leaving given the widespread belief in D.C. communications circles that he will exit early in the president’s new term, either for a private sector job or another Administration posting.

That came in a press conference following the FCC’s monthly meeting, at which the FCC voted to advance one part of that agenda, approving a more flexible approach to experimental radio service licenses to promote innovation in, among other things, advanced medical devices — the meeting also hosted a demonstration of remote medical imaging, including an ear canal full of wax and a bloodshot eye. Who said FCC meetings weren’t entertaining?

Asked why the FCC commissioners had not yet voted on his Media Ownership proposal to loosen newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership regs, Genachowski said the commissioners continued to deliberate. “We are in active discussions and will continue that as we do our work,” he said.

The chairman had signaled he wanted to vote the item by the end of last year — it is part of a quadrennial rule review now going on three years overdue — but concerns of minority groups that the FCC had not sufficiently gauged the impact on minority and female ownership, it was delayed and could be pushed beyond the chairman’s tenure if he did decide to exit soon.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.