White House Withdraws Gigi Sohn’s FCC Nomination
Agency, public advocacy experience couldn’t overcome campaign to block confirmation
It’s official: On Sunday night (April 2), the White House sent out a note that it had informed the Senate it has withdrawn the nomination of Gigi Sohn to fill the vacant chair on the Federal Communications Commission. The regulator is currently at a 2-2 political tie over two years since President Joe Biden took office, which usually means a Democratic majority.
Last month, Sohn had asked the White House to withdraw the nomination after battling for most of two years against a concerted effort to block her from joining the agency, saying that battle and what she saw as ad hominem attacks, had taken too heavy a toll.
Whomever does ultimately get the nomination will serve out the term of former chairman Ajit Pai, a five-year term that began in July of 2021.
Sohn, a longtime public advocate who would have been the first openly gay commissioner as well as the first with a public advocacy background, was nominated twice and went through three confirmation hearings but was unable to secure all the Democratic votes in the Senate she would have needed to be confirmed.
Also: Sohn Gets Another Bite at FCC Confirmation Apple
Sohn, former adviser to Obama-era FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and a longtime advocate for fair use and net neutrality rules, took heat for various stands as 1) a public interest advocate, 2) a backer of shuttered free broadcast streaming service, Locast, and 3) an occasional critic of Fox News Channel as a private citizen, resulting in a stalemate in Congress on her nomination.
She was also the target of a sometimes ugly campaign by industry players in no hurry to see the FCC get a Democratic majority, particularly if it meant the return of Title II-based net neutrality rules or broadcast regulation. ■
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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.