New NTIA Head Neil Patel Draws Rave Reviews

President Bush's nomination of Vice President Dick Cheney's aide, Neil Patel, to head the National Telecommunications and Information Administration drew more good wishes Thursday as he prepares to take over the digital-TV-to-analog converter-box-coupon program, part of the nation's switch to digital broadcasting.

Meredith Atwell Baker, who has been acting head of the NTIA since the departure of John Kneuer last fall, confirmed last week that she was leaving, although she provided no timetable.

“I applaud President Bush’s nomination of Neil Patel to head the National Telecommunications and Information Administration," Republican Federal Communications Commission member Robert McDowell said. “I have had the pleasure of knowing Neil for many years. He is a substantive, energetic and committed public servant who is well-suited to lead the NTIA. I wish Neil the best as he proceeds through the confirmation process.”

McDowell added, "During my tenure at the FCC, I have enjoyed working with former assistant secretary John Kneuer and acting assistant secretary Meredith Baker. I know Neil will continue to build on their strong accomplishments to advance the common goals of the NTIA and the commission during the exciting months ahead.”

“We congratulate Neil Patel on his nomination as assistant secretary for communications and information," said Michael Petricone, senior vice president of government affairs for the Consumer Electronics Association.

The NTIA and the FCC are the lead agencies in the DTV transition -- FCC chairman Kevin Martin already gave Patel kudos in a statement released late Wednesday -- while CEA members are the ones making the converter boxes and new digital TVs.

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.