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Indecency Czar Exits FCC

Federal Communications Commission Enforcement Bureau chief David Solomon will become a partner at Washingtonm D.C.,  law firm WIlkinson Barker Knauer LLP when he leaves the agency May 10.

Solomon, the senior agency staffer overseeing the commission's crackdown on broadcasting indecency, will take some time off before starting at the firm in mid-June.

Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell appointed Solomon to organize and run the Enforcement Bureau when it was created in 1999. Previously FCC enforcement duties were dispersed among the various industry bureaus, such as the Media Bureau, which handles regulation of broadcasters and cable operators.

Solomon has also been responsible for enforcement of telephone competition rules, broadcast and cable public interest obligations, consumer protection, public safety/homeland security, spectrum and equipment matters, and universal service rules.

A firm spokesman said Solomon will advise clients on all areas of enforcement, including indecency. Because he's still an FCC employee, Solomon declined to comment about the specifics of his new job.

Indecency enforcement and the roll out of the federal government's do-not-call rules for telemarketers were the highest-profile endeavors of the bureau during Solomon's tenure.

Because of decisions on broadcast indecency, the bureau took heat from both free speech purists and moralists seeking to clean up the airwaves.

In one early high-profile case the FCC was criticized for being too harsh after proposing to fine a station that aired a popular Eminem rap song. The FCC backed down.

Then the bureau declined to fine NBC for a Golden Globes airing of rock star Bono's use of the f-word and the Parents Television Council launched an email backlash that primed its faithful for a drawn out campaign against indecency on TV and radio. With that set-up, Congress and the FCC began a still-continuing crackdown on indecency after Janet Jackson revealed her breast during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

Before running the Enforcement Bureau, Solomon worked 12 years in the FCC General Counsel’s Office, first as assistant general counsel for administrative law and then as deputy general counsel.

Wilkinson Barker managing partner L. Andrew Tollin said the FCC's new focus on all aspects of enforcement means "David will no doubt play a major role in the firm’s practice."