It's official, the White House has told Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) that it has nominated Robert McDowell, senior VP and general counsel of telecom association Comptel, to the remaining empty seat on the FCC.
Stevens had recommended McDowell for the post.
Comptel is headed by Earl Comstock, himself a former leading contender for the FCC chairmanship and alos a pick of Stevens, who heads the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees communications issues.
Comptel was formed in 1981 to promote competition to AT&T and grew to include wireless companies and ISPs. It has been critical off FCC policies under Martin, including its approval of the SBC/AT&T and Verizon/MCI mergers, saying it was assisting the Bells in "their re-monopolization of the nation's communications networks."
McDowell is described as a good lawyer with strong Republican connections. Comptel's criticisms notwithstanding, Martin greeted the news graciously:
“If confirmed, Rob McDowell will be a great asset to the Commission.He has a wealth of knowledge in the communications arena, and we will rely on his insight when evaluating the issues before us.I look forward to working with a full complement of Commissioners should Mr. McDowell be confirmed.”
Like FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, he worked for the Bush administration in Florida during the recount and was also on the advance team for the 2004 election.
McDowell would fill the seat vacated by Republican Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy and give the Republican Martin the majority he has lacked since he took over the center seat last March.
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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.