D.C. on Lookout for FCC Nominations

Sen. Maria Cantwell
Sen. Maria Cantwell

D.C. insiders were on the lookout for FCC nominations Friday after Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) reportedly said Tuesday (Oct. 19) that she was expecting them to come from the White House this week.

Acting FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel has to leave the commission by the end of the year unless she is re-nominated and confirmed and there is an empty Democratic seat that needs filling if the Democrats want to start exercising their majority.

Also: Music, Education Groups Urge Biden To Make Rosenworcel FCC Chair

Given the short time frame left in this Congress for the confirmation process and the fact that if Rosenworcel is not named chair she could decide to exit regardless, prospects for her getting the nod as chair were looking up. For one thing, she would not need a nomination hearing since she has already been fully vetted.

One former top FCC official said he thought Rosenworcel would make it after all, saying that some of the more progressive candidates being proposed had not panned out.

Also: Senators Push Biden for Jessica Rosenworcel as Permanent Chair

If the White House does not move quickly, there is the prospect of a three-person commission starting in January, majority Republican, with lone Democrat Geoffrey Starks as acting chair but unable to do anything the Republicans did not agree with.

The hold-up on President Biden naming a chair apparently stems from a number of factors, including the early endorsement of Starks by the Congressional Black Caucus, whose leading member, James Clyburn (D-S.C.), was instrumental in Biden's election; the push by progressives for a more activist chair in the mold of FTC chair Lina Khan; and the apparent pushback on Rosenworcel by some former top FCC Democrats.

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.