Obama Set to Name FCC Chair

According to the ABA Journal, quoting the New York Times, President-Elect Obama is preparing to nominate Julius Genachowski to be chair of the Federal Communications Commission.  From the article:

He also advised Obama on telecom policies and helped in his campaign’s successful online strategy, according to the Times. Genachowski clerked for Justice David H. Souter and was chief counsel to former FCC chairman Reed Hundt in the 1990s.

The FCC Chair is a serious appointment. In the last decade, the FCC has taken a much tougher stance on “indecency” leading to fines in the infamous “nipplegate” incident.  This year, in FCC v. Fox Television, the Supreme Court is reviewing whether “fleeting expletives” broadcast by networks can subject them to indecency sanctions.

netneutralitycopy1

But more than just whether Bono can say the “F-word” once on TV, the past years have seen a slurry of FCC-permitted media consolidation (allowing those with the most money to speak with the loudest voices), questions regarding whether new FCC faces a slew of new regulatory issues, such as whether broadband providers may prohibit or give priority to different streams of media, or those coming from preferred sources, or whether there must be “net neutrality”  (background here).  Media companies, public interest groups, and academics alike have been working to make serious changes in FCC policy.

A compelling portrait of modern telecommunications

A compelling portrait of modern telecommunications

What flows over telephone and cable wires in interstate commerce, and what flows over the air “in a million tiny pieces” has a profound effect on all of our lives today.  The courts and Congress may play a role, but it’s at the FCC where all the technical decisions that seriously affect what we can see, when we can see it, and how we can use the Internet happen.  Stay tuned.


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