According to a tweet in Morse code from
former broadcaster Greg Walden (R-Ore.), he has been tapped (literally) to be
the next chairman of the House Communications & Internet Subcommittee.
Why in Morse code? Walden is a veteran amateur
radio operator and "it is a fun way to combine old and new forms of
communication" to deliver the news, said Press Secretary Andrew Whelan,
who said the official announcement from Energy & Commerce Committee
Chairman Fred Upton will be coming soon.
Upton spokesman Sean Bonyun confirmed the
pick and said the announcement of that and other subcommittee
chairmanships will be coming out momentarily.
Rep. Cliff Stearns, who has been ranking member of
the communications subcommittee, will head up the Oversight and Investigations
Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) will be chairing
the Trade & Commerce Subcommittee, according to a source.
Walden, one of the industry's strongest champions
on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, took a leave of absence from his
committee post to push for House reforms as leader of the GOP Congressional
He also headed up the transition team for the new House majority.
Shortly before that, Walden was among those highly
critical of the FCC for hiring law professor Stuart Benjamin as its first
distinguished scholar in residence. Benjamin had written, partly in jest he
said, that it would be in the public interest to regulate broadcasters out of
existence so their spectrum could be reclaimed for other uses. The part that
was not in jest did not sit well with Walden, who warned the FCC that it would
always leave the hanging question of whether an order relating to localism,
public interest obligations, or media ownership is necessary or simply aimed at
Walden has long been a voice for broadcaster
concerns on the subcommittee, bringing the perspective of a station group
owner, though he has since sold his five radio stations.
Walden in the past has supported loosening media
ownership rules. He once said that if the FCC allowed XM and Sirius to
merge (it did), why not allow broadcasters to own more stations.
He has also commiserated with the industry over content crackdowns,
from threats to alcohol ads to pressure on TV violence, telling industry execs back
in 2007 that they have taken the rap for the 400 other available channels
because they are an easy target.
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