Barack Obama is expected to name technology policy adviser Julius Genachowski to be the next chairman of the FCC, according to several Washington sources familiar with the Obama transition team. The announcement is expected Tuesday.
The Washington lobbying community had been abuzz with the expected announcement Monday. Genachowski had been at the top of most lists for the post.
Most were upbeat about the pick. "All I've heard is good things about him," said one cable lobbyist.
The news of Genachowski's pending appointment was hailed as a "happy day for those of us who care about media and kids," by Jim Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media. Genachowski is on the board of Common Sense.
"The choice of Julius, albeit no big surprise, is a superb one on so many levels," Steyer told B&C, "none more important than his understanding of the media/tech world's impact on kids and education."
Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, was equally pleased with the choice.
"Under Julius Genachowski's leadership, the FCC's compass would point toward the public interest," he said late Monday night. "President-elect Obama has provided a clear roadmap of his media and technology priorities. We share Obama's goals of creating a more diverse, democratic media system and providing fast, affordable, open Internet access for everyone. We greatly look forward to working with Mr. Genachowski to put the president-elect's plan into action."
It is unclear when Genachowski will be installed, but Washington watchers were predicting his name will be sent up quickly to the Hill for confirmation. Broadband deployment is a key policy issue for the Obama administration, figuring prominently in the President-elect's economic stimulus package. The admnistration will also inherit a DTV transition that has become a political hot potato with the delay in sending out government DTV converter subsidies and the Obama transition team's call for delaying the transition date of Feb. 17.
Genachowski, a former Harvard Law School classmate of Obama's, helped draft the Obama campaign's tech policy plan, which some at the time boiled down to “open government, open networks, and open markets.” Only days after the election, he was tapped along with another Hundt lieutenant, Blair Levin, to draft tech policy for the new administration.
Genachowski had been thought to be a top candidate for a new tech czar post Obama is creating, so long as its powers were well-defined--and it actually had powers. That job description has remained sufficiently nebulous that the top FCC post appears the more attractive to someone looking to affect communications policy.
Genachowski has a range of experience in the law, business, politics, communications, and new media to draw on.He is co-founder of venture capital firm Rock Creek Ventures, a former adviser to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, and was a senior executive from 1997 to 2005 at Barry Diller's Internet company, IAC/InterActiveCorp. He is also former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice David Souter and retired Justice William Brennan. His congressional experience includes the staff of the Joint Select Committee on Iran-Contra and in the office of then Rep. Charles Schumer of New York.
According to Web.com, where Genachowski is a board member, his other directorships have included Expedia.com, Hotels.com, and Ticketmaster.
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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