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Rockefeller: FCC Is Broken

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller said again Wednesday (July 15) that he believed the FCC is broken and wants its two newest members to help fix it, adding "the committee will be watching."

According to text of his opening remarks at the confirmation hearings for FCC nominees Mignon Clyburn and Meredith Attwell Baker, Senator Rockefeller slammed the FCC under the former administration as "beholden" to the media industry it regulates, ideology-driven and insufficiently focused on consumers.

New Chairman Julius Genachowski, who heard a similar review of the ghost of FCC past during his nomination hearing, has pledged to address all those concerns, and vowed a transparent, consumer-focused and data-driven commission. But Rockefeller was looking to make sure Baker and Clyburn were on the same page.

He sounded hopeful that the pair, Clyburn a Democrat and Baker a Republican, had the requisite tools for the job.

"I believe the perspectives you bring will help with this task," he said. He called Clyburn, a South Carolina utility commissioner, a "seasoned state regulator who knows what rural America looks like."

In Baker, he said, "We have someone who has toiled in the trenches at the NTIA and knows communications issues from the inside out."

They are both expected to be approved by the committee. The Senate vote could be as easy, or there could be a hold-up related to either the nominees answers to questions or unrelated matters like a contentious health care bill battle. A single senator can block a nomination anonymously and for any reason.  

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.