FTC Installs New Competition Leadership

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joe Simons has officially named a new leadership team over the agency's Bureau of Competition, with the 5-0 support of the full commission. 

Simons signaled back in October he was tapping Ian Conner to succeed Bruce Hoffman, who exited last month after more than two years in the post. Under Hoffman, the FTC challenged 42 mergers and participated in nine trials, including winning its monopolization case against Qualcomm over smart phone chips.  

Conner has been the deputy director of the bureau, a post he has held since September 2017, appointed by then chairman Maureen Ohlhausen as acting director. Conner is formerly a partner in the antitrust and competition group at Kirkland & Ellis.  

Along with the Justice Department the bureau enforces antitrust laws, so it is one of the key players in the oversight of broadband following the FCC's reclassification of broadband as a Title I service under the argument that antitrust enforcers could oversee ISP conduct rather than via bright-line rules enforced by the FCC.  

Simons said Wednesday (Dec. 18) that Daniel Francis has been named deputy director alongside deputy director Gail Levine. Yet another competition bureau deputy director, Marian Bruno, is retiring at the end of the year, but no replacement has been named. 

“I’m confident that this team will continue the Bureau of Competition’s vigorous enforcement efforts, building on multiple significant merger and conduct challenges over the past two years, which have resulted in wins at the district court, administrative, and appellate levels,” said Simons. “This Bureau leadership is dedicated to ensuring that the FTC protects consumers from antitrust violations and promotes competitive markets.”  

Levine will continue to oversee the Technology Enforcement Division, charged with keeping tabs on the competitiveness, or lack of it, of Big Tech. 

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.