Locke Nomination Hearing for Commerce Secretary Set for March 18

The Senate Commerce Committee has set March 18 for the nomination hearing of Commerce Secretary nominee and former Washington State Governor Gary Locke.

Locke is the Obama administration's third attempt to seat a new Commerce Secretary after Republican Senator Judd Gregg (New Hampshire) withdrew his nomination citing differences with the administration over moving some of the census responsibilities out of Commerce and over the stimulus package.

Gregg was a replacement for former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who also withdrew his name due to an investigation of a private company's dealings with the state government, specifically how political donors won a state contract.

If Locke is confirmed, he would be in charge of, among other things, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, the White House's chief telecom policy adviser. NTIA is currently overseeing the DTV-to-analog converter box coupon program, whose waiting list for those coupons helped prompt the Obama administration to call for moving the DTV transition date. It is also preparing to hand out billions in broadband stimulus money and help the FCC come up with a grand plan for getting broadband to every home in America.

"Now, I'm sure it's not lost on anyone that we've tried this a couple of times," the President said when he announced Locke, "but I'm a big believer in keeping at something until you get it right. And Gary is the right man for this job.

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.