White House Nominates O'Rielly to FCC

As expected, the White House has nominated longtime
Republican congressional communications policy adviser Michael P. O'Rielly to
be the next Republican commissioner of the FCC.

He will fill out the remaining term of Republican Robert
McDowell, which runs through July 1, 2014, after which he will have to be
renominated. The Senate is preparing to exit for its August break, so O'Reilly
likely won't be joining the FCC before late summer or early fall.

O'Rielly is policy adviser to Senate minority whip John
Cornwyn (R-Texas), and was a top tech/telecom policy adviser to former Sen.
John Sununu (R-N.H.) and former Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.).

The choice was the President's, but by custom dating to the
Clinton White House, the president usually defers to the choice of Republican
Senate leaders.

O'Rielly's nomination must still be vetted and approved by
the Senate Commerce Committee, which should pave the way for a full-Senate
vote, and almost certainly approval, of both O'Rielly and chairman nominee Tom
Wheeler, barring a hold, which can be placed by a single, unidentified senator.

If there were a hold on Wheeler, for example, O'Rielly would
be highly unlikely to get a vote on his nomination in the meantime.

Sen. Ted Cruz has identified himself as one senator who has
issues with Wheeler. He voted no on his confirmation in the Senate
Communications Subcommittee, and warned that he may delay a vote until he gets
a better answer from Wheeler on the FCC's authority to boost political ad
disclosures. Cruz dos not want the FCC to follow the advice of some Democrats to
do through regulation what Congress failed to do via the Democrat-backed
Disclose Act.

The other FCC Republican, Ajit Pai, also a former Hill
staffer, sounded happy to have some help on the way.

"I congratulate Mike O'Rielly on his nomination to
serve as an FCC Commissioner," he said in a statement. "His
expertise, experience, and fresh perspective will be a tremendous asset to the
Commission as we confront the many challenging issues on our agenda. I look
forward to working with him and wish him all the best during the confirmation
process. "

"We congratulate Mike O'Rielly on being nominated to
serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission," the
National Cable & Telecommunications Association said in a statement.
"As a longtime congressional aide, Mike brings not only a wealth of
political experience, but also a deep appreciation for policies that will
promote continued innovation and private investment in communications markets.
As he continues his distinguished career in public service once confirmed by
the Senate, we look forward to working with him in this new capacity."

"On behalf of the wireless industry, we congratulate
Mike on his nomination," echoed Steve Largent, CTIA-The Wireless
Association President. "Once confirmed, the Commission will benefit from
his impressive depth of experience in telecommunications, consistent commitment
to public service and keen understanding of the vast importance that wireless
broadband drives our economy. We look forward to working with Mike on the broad
range of important spectrum and other wireless telecom matters that are pending
before the Commission and are vital to Americans continuing to enjoy the benefits
provided by the world's leading wireless industry."

When O'Rielly and Wheeler are installed, the FCC
will be at its five-member full strength.

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.