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Bring Back Tech Staff for Commissioners, Says Jules Cohen

Engineer agrees FCC commissioners should have tech staff

I received an interesting reply to my story about Olympia Snowe’s bill that would add technical folks to the commissioner staffs at the Federal Communications Commission.

I heard from recently retired broadcast engineering consultant Jules Cohen, who in 1952, along with two partners, became a principal in a consulting engineering firm concentrating initially on aural broadcasting, then on television. He continued in that practice as a partner, corporate head or sole practitioner until retirement in late 2009.

“In 1946, when my contacts with the FCC began, by tradition, one of the commissioners — seven in those days — was an engineer,” he told me. “When that tradition was eliminated, and the number of commissioners was reduced to five, commissioners kept an engineer on their immediate staffs to provide engineering guidance.” Today, no commissioner has an engineer on his or her staff.

Jules Cohen supports a requirement that each commissioner keep an engineer on staff.

“This is no reflection on other engineers employed by the FCC. However, the view at commissioner level can be quite different from that within the bureaus. The commissioners need the availability of engineering advice independent of that received from the bureaus.”

What do you think? Write to me at: [email protected].