McDowell Sworn In at FCC

The Federal Communications Commission is under Republican control for the first time since March 2005 with the swearing-in Thursday afternoon of communications attorney Robert McDowell.

McDowell, confirmed by the Senate last Friday, gives Republicans a 3-2 edge over Democrats and provides chairman Kevin Martin with the partisan advantage he might need to advance his agenda on a number of fronts.

McDowell was sworn in by Martin, the FCC said in a statement.

“There are many challenging issues facing the [FCC], and I am eager to begin working on them with my fellow commissioners, with Congress and with the American people,” McDowell said in a statement.

Martin is hoping to relax broadcast-ownership rules, particularly the ban on the common ownership of a daily newspaper and a TV or radio station in the same local market.

In a change opposed by the cable industry, Martin is also seeking support for a plan that would allow a digital-TV station to demand cable carriage of multiple programming services. The FCC could vote to approve it June 15.

McDowell, 42, joined the FCC from his position as senior vice president and assistant general counsel at COMPTEL, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association of local phone companies that compete with industry giants AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc.

He received an undergraduate degree from Duke University in 1985 and a law degree from the College of William and Mary. He lives in Fairfax, Va., on the same farm where he grew up. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two children.