FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus is exiting the
commission effective at the end of January, Lazarus said Tuesday in an
interview with B&C/Multi.
He has been the chief policy gatekeeper -- that chief policy
being broadband deployment and adoption -- and top adviser to FCC Chairman
Julius Genachowski since June 2009. Before that, he was an attorney with Akin
Gump in L.A.
Lazarus says it was not a case of a better offer or
friction with his current boss. "I had always looked at this as a
two-three-year role [it will have been a little over two and a half years] and
I want to have time to take a breath and look for what to do next on a schedule
compatible with the school year." He has two kids, 11, and 13, and he says
if he takes a job outside of D.C. he would want to do it "without yanking
my kids out of school."
He also said he has not interviewed anywhere and has
"absolutely no idea" where he is going.
"No one has done more than Eddie Lazarus to ensure that
the FCC meets its vital mission to harness communications technology to benefit
our economy and all Americans," said Genachowski in a statement.
"Eddie has worked tirelessly to refocus the FCC on broadband Internet, and
unleash its opportunities."
Lazarus says he is proudest of that work, a focus
Genachowski told reporters Tuesday would continue in 2012. That included
working through the National Broadband Plan and implementing "significant
parts of it" including Universal Service Reform and broadband adoption. He
also cited open Internet, transaction reviews and bill shock as high points.
Lazarus had said previously that he hoped that by the
time he left the FCC, he could look back and see that the needle had moved on
creating a globally competitive 21st Century communications network.
Asked if he had moved the needle enough, he said that it could never be moved
enough. "We have set the agenda for 2012 and beyond, which is to continue
to close those gaps: getting broadband access to everyone, getting our adoption
numbers up from 68% to a target closer to 100%, and getting spectrum. With any
luck," he said, "Congress may authorize incentive auctions before the
end of the year."
Lazarus said the toughest part of his job was
"navigating the five-year history of incredible divisiveness over the open
Internet and drawing the stakeholders to a consensus position." There was
a bit of the iron fist in the velvet glove about that consensus, since it was
driven more by that position's preference to Title II classification than a
warm industry embrace of codifying and expanding net neutrality rules.
On any advice to his successor, Lazarus says "not to
get overly caught up in the ups and downs that occur every day and to keep
focused on the long-term strategic goals of the commission."
Lazarus says his successor has not been named, and won't
be until the end of January. He says the chairman has asked him to help with
the transition, but that Genachowski "has not made up his mind."
Lazarus, who wrote a book about the Supreme Court after
clerking for Justice Harry Blackman in the late 1980s, gives a "definitive
no" when asked if a book about the inner workings of the FCC could be in
Of his time at the FCC, he says: "I am enormously
grateful to chairman Genachowski for this experience and it has really been a
life-altering experience to work with the talented FCC staff on issues that
were largely unknown to me before I came here."
"Among Eddie's accomplishments is the strengthening of
the FCC's great staff. Eddie has done so much toward ensuring that the FCC
is a model for excellence in government, and when he departs he'll leave a
strong and experienced staff," said Genachowski in the statement. "We'll
miss Eddie deeply, but will continue to benefit every day from his leadership,
strength and brilliance."
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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.