President Joe Biden has announced his intention to renominate acting Federal Communications Commission chair Jessica Rosenworcel as a member and chair of the agency, and to add Gigi Sohn as the third commissioner.
Sohn’s appointment is a breakthrough nomination as the first LGBTIQ+ member of that agency.
“From fighting to protect an open internet, to ensuring broadband access for students caught in the Homework Gap through the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund, to making sure that households struggling to afford internet service stay connected through the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, she has been a champion for connectivity for all,” the White House said of Rosenworcel. “She is a leader in spectrum policy, developing new ways to support wireless services from WiFi to video and the Internet of Things. She has fought to combat illegal robocalls and enhance consumer protections in our telecommunications policies.”
While Mignon Clyburn was the first woman to head the FCC as acting chair, Rosenworcel's office pointed out the current acting chair is the first woman named to the permanent chair post in the commission's history as well.
"I am deeply humbled to be designated as Chair of the Federal Communications Commission by President Biden," said Rosenworcel in a statement. "It is an honor to work with my colleagues on the Commission and the agency’s talented staff to ensure that no matter who you are or where you live, everyone has the connections they need to live, work, and learn in the digital age,” said Rosenworcel. “I also want to congratulate Gigi Sohn on her nomination to serve as a Commissioner at the agency and Alan Davidson on his nomination to serve as Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.”
Sohn was hailed by the White House as a defender of “fundamental competition and innovation policies that have made broadband Internet access more ubiquitous, competitive, affordable, open, and protective of user privacy.”
The White House also pointed out that if she is confirmed, as she is expected to be “the first openly LGBTIQ+ commissioner in the history of the FCC.”
From 2013 to 2016, Sohn was counselor to former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, where she evangelized for network neutrality rules based on Title II of the Telecommunications Act, classifying them as telecommunications services subject to regulation.
Before joining the FCC, Sohn was co-founder and CEO of Public Knowledge. She was also executive director of the Media Access Project.
“Chair Jessica Rosenworcel and commissioners Geoffrey Starks and Gigi Sohn will create an FCC ‘dream team’ that can implement a progressive telecommunications policy agenda for the coming decades,” said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior counselor, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society and a former colleague of Sohn's at Media Access Project. “As Gigi’s colleague for a decade, I may be accused of being biased, but that proximity also gives me confidence that the team of Chair Rosenworcel and Commissioners Starks and Sohn are likely to make major advances in promoting widespread and affordable wireless and wireline broadband deployment, media diversity and an open internet … Jessica has carefully and successfully met the challenge of managing a divided FCC over the last nine months [and] Gigi will be able jump right into the job, and the Senate should confirm her right away,” he said.
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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.