Clyburn Exits FCC On Reflective Note

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has exited the building, leaving a legacy that included being the first African-American woman to lead the agency.

Clyburn's term had expired last year, but she could have served until her replacement, Geoffrey Starks (had confirmed by the Senate), or until the end of the current congressional session, whichever came first.

In a parting statement, Clyburn thanked her staff and fellow commissioners and said her time on the commission was the most incredible job she had ever had. 

She listed a number of her "consequential decisions," which included Title II classification of ISPs, which the FCC is rolling back starting Monday (June 11), freeing up more spectrum for wireless, eliminating the Sports Blackout Rule, creating the Connect2Health task force, and championing collection of better media ownership diversity data.

On the other side of the ledger was the Dec. 14, 2017 reversal of the Title II-based net neutrality rules, various broadcast deregulatory moves, deregulation of business data services, eliminating the main studio rule and more.

"I know the power of this agency," she said at the close of what was her closing statement on the commission. "I have witnessed for nearly nine years how much it can do. This is a consequential agency that has the ability, or dare I say the mandate, to take on, head first, those challenges that impact every single part of the U.S. economy. On my trips around the country, I saw where the policies we put in place are making a real difference in peoples’ lives and what is clear is this: that this agency can either be an enabler of opportunities or it can stifle opportunities. I have seen firsthand where our policies have done much good, but I have also witnessed where inaction or bad decisions have created undue hardship. 

"Fulfilling these obligations requires the Commission to strike a sometimes difficult-to-achieve balance between making sure that consumers are protected and trying not to get in the way of market-driven innovation—but at the end of the day, the public interest must be served," she added "That is non-negotiable."

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.