Clyburn Won't Show Her Cards on Title II Reclassification

FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn faced a generally friendly
Senate Commerce panel Tuesday in her renomination hearing for a full, five-year

She declined to say whether she would reclassify Internet
access as a Title II service if the court strikes down the FCC's Open Internet
order, but did say she would answer questions about the FCC's increasingly
criticized, at least from Democratic quarters, media ownership proposal.

She also committed to providing answers offline to acting
hearing chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on Boxer's and other legislators'
request that the FCC postpone its vote on media ownership, though she
volunteered that she had gotten a 30-day extension on comments on the media
ownership study, which effectively delays that vote at least until the
beginning of next year. Boxer said that was excellent, and did not press her on
the ownership issue in the public forum of the hearing.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who joined in that request to
delay the media ownership vote, warned that the FCC was heading for a
resolution of disapproval from Congress if it continued along the lines of its
current ownership proposal. "This is not the Rupert Murdoch view of the
world," she said. "If we want to have an independent media they
should be independent, not consolidated," she said. "So we will be
loud and boisterous about what the commission is intending to do."
Cantwell sent her own, separate letter to the FCC criticizing the item.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D- W. Va.) was ill and did not
preside, with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
divvying up the duties. Kerry said in teeing up the hearing that Clyburn had
done a "superb job" in helping chairman move important policies,
including spurring broadband, wired and wireless.

Also quizzed was Federal Trade Commission nominee Joshua
Wright. He said he would recuse himself from any law enforcement action
involving Google and any other for the requisite 2 years. Wright, a George
Mason University professor, was co-author of a paper in 2011, "Google and
the Limits of Antitrust: The Case Against the Case Against Google,"
defending the company.

Wright would not commit to recusing himself beyond that
timetable, but Cantwell said she wanted him to give her that answer at a
follow-up to the hearing.

Boxer said she appreciated that, but wanted a list of the
companies who might have business before the FTC that had supported his work so
she could get a sense of what he could rule on.

Wright was also asked to give follow-up answers on his view
of FTC do-not-track and notice and choice proposals.

Clyburn's current term expired June 30, 2012, but she could
continue serving through the next Congress unless a replacement were nominated
and confirmed. She joined the FCC in 2009, filling the unexpired term of
Democrat Jonathan Adelstein, who left to head the Rural Utilities Service

The White House submitted her renomination back in June, but
action was on hold pending the outcome of the election.

Kerry said that Sen. Rockefeller planned to vote on the
nominations next week. Both Clyburn and Wright are expected to secure their
nominations and renominations, respectively.

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.