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Wheeler Reactions Keep on Coming

More Washington, and former Washington, players continued to weigh in on the nomination of Tom Wheeler to be the next FCC chair, with the senior serving member of the House giving him a big thumbs up and one of the most senior former Democratic FCC commissioners calling it a bizarre choice.

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) said he welcomed the nomination. "Tom has long been a friend and would bring with him a wealth of knowledge about communications and technology to the Commission." Dingell did take a "praise but verify" approach, saying he would continue to monitor the commission and that he hopes Wheeler will "maintain an open dialogue with the Congress" about incentive auctions and other matters.

Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association, called Wheeler an excellent choice. "Wheeler is experienced, qualified and certain to make a difference as FCC chairman."

"[Wheeler's] wealth of business experience should position him well to work with various industry segments to ensure good consumer outcomes as we transition to next-generation products, services and technologies," said CenturyLink SVP for federal policy and regulatory affairs Melissa Newman. "We look forward to working with him on the many public policy issues facing today's communications companies and their customers, including the deployment of broadband services to high-cost areas, the elimination of unnecessary rules and regulations, and the creation of real competition for video services."

Newman also congratulated commissioner Mignon Clyburn being named acting FCC chair -- Clyburn will assume the role when the current chairman, Julius Genachowski, exits in mid-May and likely for several months thereafter. "Commissioner Clyburn has been a tireless champion and leader on communications issues that impact consumers," she said.

Nicholas Johnson, the outspoken liberal Democratic commissioner who served in the late 1960's and early 1970's, called it a "bizarre choice" for the "Democratic wing" of the Democratic party.

"Wheeler's background is as a trade association representative for companies appearing before the Commission, a lobbyist in Congress for other FCC customers, and a venture capitalist investing in and profiting from others whose requests he'll have to pass on," he said. "He has no record, of which I am aware, of challenging corporate abuse of power on behalf of consumers and the poor."