Supporters of FCC Nominee Gigi Sohn Gang Up on Hill

Gigi Sohn
Gigi Sohn (Image credit: C-SPAN)

Supporters of Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the Federal Communications Commission have gotten together on a letter to congressional leaders, clearly hoping that the weight of their collective call for action can move a needle that has been stuck for well over a year.

The nomination of Sohn, a former top counselor to Obama-era FCC chair Tom Wheeler and the onetime head of public-interest group Public Knowledge, failed to secure enough votes in committee to get a floor vote. Thus the FCC remains at a political tie and unable to take up Democratic priorities that might not fly with Republicans.

Also: FCC Union Backs Sohn

In a letter dated Oct. 14, almost 250 groups, mostly public interest groups but also including Dish, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, INCOMPAS and the Rural Wireless Association, told Senate leaders from both parties that she should get a floor vote before Congress adjourns.

“We call on the Senate to give the consideration that is due to this highly-qualified individual, who has dedicated her career to ensuring consumers have access to communications services available to everybody, regardless of income, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, geography or political viewpoint,” they wrote. “Her life’s work is the embodiment of the FCC's mission, and we simply cannot have a less-than-fully functioning FCC to persist any longer.”

The FCC has been without the Democratic majority secured with President Joe Biden’s election for more than a year and a half, leaving it to tackle bipartisan issues but not such hot-button topics as the return of net neutrality rules, which both of the current Democratic FCC commissioners and Biden support; Universal Service reform; and potential reregulation of broadcast ownership deregulated under Republican Trump-era FCC chairman Ajit Pai.

Sohn would be the first former civil society group activist — she headed Public Knowledge — to sit on the commission, which has featured any number of former lobbyists, including chairmen, from both parties. She would also be the first openly LGBTQ person to sit on the commission.

While Sohn brings a wealth of experience, including as a former top adviser to Wheeler, she also brings some baggage that vexes Republicans as well as cable and broadcast entities, including her support of Title II-based net neutrality rules; her association with streaming service Locast, which broadcasters successfully sued over copyright issues; and her past criticism of some big media players, notably Fox News Channel. ■

Signing the letter were:

18 Million Rising
2050 Hawaii, Inc.
5G Free RI
Access Humboldt
Accountable Tech
Advocacy Initiative for Development (AID)
Ala Kuola
Alliance for Community Media
Aloha Independent Living Hawaii
American Association for Public Broadband
American Economic Liberties Project
American Federation of Teachers
American Library Association
American Society on Aging
Appalshop Community Media Initiative
Arlington Community Media Inc.
Arlington Independent Media
Ashbury Senior Computer Community Center
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
Baltimore Arts Realty Corporation
Belmont Media Center
Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Berwick Community Media
Boulder Thinking, LLC
Buckeye Hills Regional Council
California Brain Tumor Association
California Center for Rural Policy
California Clean Money Campaign
California Community Foundation Digital
Equity Initiative
Cambodian American Community Council of
Capital Community Media
CARDBoard Project
CCTV Center for Media + Democracy,
Burlington Vermont
Center for Accessible Technology
Center for American Progress
Center for Democracy & Technology
Center for Rural Strategies
Chairman Daniel Linville - West Virginia House
of Delegates - Committee on Technology and
Chamber of Progress
Citizens Fiber Initiative Group
City of Seattle Department of Information
Civic Education Council
Civic Shout
Clear Light Ventures
Coalition for a Drug Free Hawaii
Code in the Schools
Color Of Change
Common Cause
Common Sense
Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc.
Communications Workers of America (CWA)
Community Media Center Of Marin
Community Tech Network
Computer Reach
Connect Your Community Institute
Consumer Technology Association (CTA)
Consumers for Safe Cell Phones
Davis Media Access
Demand Progress
Derry Community Access Media
Detroit Community Technology Project
Digital Connect Initiative
Digital Equity Institute
Digital Equity Learning Network of King
Digital Equity Research Center
Duluth Public Access Community Television
Economic Security Project Action
Electronic Frontier Foundation
EMF Safety Network
Environmental Working Group
Falmouth Community Television Corp, Inc.
Families Advocating for Chemical and Toxics
Fight for the Future
Former Georgia State Senator Judson Hill
Framingham Public Access Corporation
Free Press Action
Friends of Makakilo
Friends Of Waimānalo
Future of Music Coalition
Georgette Stevens, President, Wai’anae
Protestant Church
Golden Frog, GmbH
Granite Telecommunications, LLC
Greater Northshire Access Television, Inc.
Greenfield Community Television
Greenpeace USA
Hadley Media - Town of Hadley
Harrison Edwards, Inc.
Hawai‘i Friends of Restorative Justice
Hawai’i Pono’ī Coalition
Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking
Hawaii Broadband and Digital Equity Office
Hawaii International Film Festival
Hispanic Federation
Human Rights Campaign
Indivisible Sacramento
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition)
Jack Straw Cultural Center
JAG - Jersey Access Group
Japanese American Citizens League
Kipahulu Ohana, Inc.
KOKO LP - 96.3 FM Hana Maui
Lake Champlain Access Television
Last Tree Laws
Latinx Digital Leaders Now
LGBTQ Victory Institute
Literacy Assistance Center
Literacy Source
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
Local TV, Inc. (LTV)
Los Angeles County Economic Development
Corporation (LAEDC)
LULAC Illinois Education Council 5238
Maine Community Media Association
Massachusetts Community Media, Inc.
Medfield TV
Media Alliance
Media, Inequality & Change Center
MetroEast Community Media
Mobile Citizen
Motor House
Movement Labs
Muslim Advocates
Nantucket Community Television, Inc.
National Association of Housing Cooperatives
National Association of Telecommunications
Officers & Advisors (NATOA)
National Association of the Deaf (NAD)
National Collaborative for Digital Equity
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans
National Digital Equity Center
National Digital Inclusion Alliance
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
National Treasury Employees Union
National Urban League
Native Public Media
New America's Open Technology Institute
New Hampshire Coalition for Community Media
North Shore TV
Northwest Access TV
Norway Paris Community TV
NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association
OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates
OD Action
Office for Community Technology, City of
Portland, Oregon
‘Olelo Community Media
Omaha Community Broadcasting
Open MIC (Open Media and Information
Companies Initiative)
Open Works
Orion Neighborhood Television
Our Revolution
Outpost Publishers Cooperative
Pacific American Foundation
Partners Bridging the Digital Divide
PCs for People
Peabody TV
People's Parity Project
Progress America
Progressive Change Campaign Committee
Public Health Innovators, LLC
Public Knowledge
Rebuild Johnston Square Neighborhood
Organization, Inc.
Revolving Door Project
Right Here, Right Now Project
Robert W. Deutsch Foundation
Rural America Strategies, LLC
Rural Wireless Association, Inc.
Saco River Community Media
Sacramento Community Cable Foundation
Schools, Health & Libraries (SHLB) Broadband
Senator Robert Plymale - West Virginia Senate -
West Virginia Broadband Enhancement Council
Smith Bagley Inc.
Sonic Telecom
Soulee LKO Stroud
South Central Alabama Broadband Cooperative
Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative for
Economic and Social Justice
Southwest Pennsylvania for Safe Technology
Springfield Area Public Access Television
Starry Group Holdings, Inc. (Starry Internet)
Stemnastics LLC
Surveillance Technology Oversight Project
SVP Community Media, BRIC Arts Media,
Brooklyn, NY
Tahoe Truckee Media
Tech Goes Home
Technology Learning Collaborative
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of
Hearing, Inc. (TDI)
Texas Networking, Inc.
The Computer & Communications Industry
Association (CCIA)
The Freedom BLOC
The Greenlining Institute
The Juggernaut Project
The Kansas City Public Library
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human
The Oasis Institute
The OMNI Centre for Public Media, Inc.
The Open Markets Institute
The Tech Oversight Project
The Utility Reform Network (TURN)
Town of Ridgefield Economic & Community
Development Commission
Truconnect Communications, Inc.
United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry
Uniti Group
US Ignite
Valley Vision
Vermont Access Network
Waikiki Hawaiian Civic Club
Wallingford Public Access Association, Inc.
d/b/a WPAA-TV
Wastewater Alternatives and Innovations
West Hartford Community Interactive
Wide Angle Youth Media
Winchester Community Access & Media, Inc.
Wired Broadband, Inc.
Writers Guild of America West (WGAW)
Zayo Group, LLC

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.