New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson Nominated For Secretary of Commerce

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was nominated for secretary of commerce Wednesday.

In addition to trying to "rejuvenate" an ailing economy, that job will include overseeing the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which is handling distribution of DTV-to-analog converter boxes for the transition to digital TV.

No word on who, if anyone, is slated to take over for Meredith Attwell Baker, current acting head of NTIA.

Baker will be speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 10, according to an NTIA spokesman, so she will be there at least that long. But she has not yet been asked to stay on, so would thus exit Jan. 20 with other political appointees when the new president takes over.

One school of thinking is that, for continuity’s sake, she might stay on through the end of the coupon program March 31.

In announcing the pick, President-Elect Barack Obama cited the importance of jump-starting the economy, and did mention the protection of intellectual property as a priority, but did not mention the DTV switch.

Jay Rockefeller (S-W.VA), soon to be chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee with oversight of the DTV transition, praised the selection, but also made no mention of the DTV transition.

"I look forward to working with Secretary-Designee Richardson to create good-paying jobs and promote economic development; restore our manufacturing sector; increase our competitive edge; encourage foreign investment in our highly productive workforce; and, promote American goods and services around the world," he said. "There is much work to do and I can’t wait to tackle the challenges ahead immediately – there is not a moment to waste.”

"We look forward to working with governor Richardson," said National Association of Broadcasters spokesman Dennis Wharton. "He brings a wealth of understanding to the position given his background on the House Telecommunications Subcommittee back in the 1980's. He is well respected throughout Washington and by the people who know him best," said Wharton, "including New Mexico broadcasters."

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.