The head of the National Urban League is calling on the Senate Commerce Committee to favorably report Democrat Gigi Sohn’s Federal Communications Commission nomination to the full Senate and to work actively for a vote in that body.
According to a copy of the letter, which was addressed to committee chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and ranking member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), National Urban League president Marc Morial said Sohn would bring decades of experience to the task of closing the digital divide, which has only widened during COVID-19.
The League has called on the FCC to tackle the divide through “broadband buildout, an affordable broadband and devices benefit, digital education, improved utilization of the internet for critical government services and increased opportunities for communities of color to benefit from the economic prosperity of this digital age.”
Morial said Sohn has demonstrated a commitment to equity that will benefit communities of color and consumers in general. “[S]he has expressed interest in boosting media diversity and ownership, including through expansion of the broadcast incubator program beyond radio and via a reevaluation of the FCC’s minority ownership rules as part of its 2022 Quadrennial Review,” he told the legislators.
The FCC is currently short one commissioner, the Democratic seat for which Sohn has been nominated and which would give chair Jessica Rosenworcel the majority she needs to tackle partisan issues such as net neutrality rules and potential broadcast reregulation.
“At a time when the United States has committed $65 billion to expanding affordable broadband access and programs, including the Affordable Connectivity Program, we need a full and active commission that is committed to ensuring that this funding is implemented equitably and with informed guidance from a broad range of stakeholders,” Morial said, adding, "The National Urban League sincerely urges you to advance Sohn’s nomination quickly through the Senate."
Cantwell has signaled she wants to firm up a date for a vote on Sohn by the end of this week.
At press time no vote had been scheduled. The committee’s website listed receipt of Sohn’s nomination on January 4 as the last action taken on the matter. Her nomination had to be resubmitted because the committee took no action on it before the end of last year.
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.
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