Simington Takes Center Stage in Nomination Hearing

FCC nominee Nate Simington
(Image credit: C-SPAN)

Republican FCC nominee Nathan Simington dominated a Hill confirmation hearing Tuesday (Nov. 10), getting almost all the questioning from members of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Simington was among a trio of Trump nominees at the hearing--the others were for posts at NASA and Commerce--in the Senate Commerce Committee.

Simington was grilled on broadband subsidies, mapping, opening up spectrum, and particularly, on his view of Section 230 and regulating social media.

Simington said his regulatory philosophy would be guided by four principles: 1) regulatory stability, which he said meant placing the public interest first, but also meant not chilling communications development with too restrictive regulations; 2) universal connectivity, on which he said progress has been made that the country can be proud of; 3) public safety and national security, which meant reconciling spectrum conflicts and challenges and protecting the public interest in the midst of ongoing spectrum commercialization.

Related: Trump Urges Simington Confirmation at FCC 

Trump nominated Simington after pulling O'Rielly's nomination for a second term, reportedly after O'Rielly criticized the President's effort to regulate social media.

Simington is currently senior advisor at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is the President's chief communications advisory arm, where he worked on 5G security/supply chain issues.

He also worked on NTIA's petition to the FCC to come up with the regime for regulating social media that the President had called for and that O'Rielly had criticized, though Simington told the hearing audience that his role was minor editing and proofing after the policy had already been hammered out. He did say he had had conversations about the issue with the White House when he was being considered for the post.

Related: Trump Nominates NTIA Advisor to O'Rielly Seat

Simington is formerly senior counsel to wireless company Brightstar, where the White House points out he "negotiated deals with companies across the spectrum of the telecommunications and internet industry, including most of the world’s leading wireless carriers."

Before that he was at powerhouse law firm Kirkland & Ellis as an associate in its corporate practice.

It is unclear whether Simington will make it onto the commission. He was the choice of the outgoing President rather than the Senate Commerce Committee chairman, who by tradition the President often defers to for FCC seat picks. Wicker may have another choice for the seat, in which case Simington might not get a Senate vote. 

In any event, O'Rielly has to leave the commission before the 117th Congress convenes in January.

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.