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FCC Chairman Could Announce Exit Soon

Reports point to a Friday announcement by Julius Genachowski that he intends to depart agency

There are reports, most notably from the Wall Street Journal and Politico, that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski intends to announce Friday that he’s leaving the commission.

A spokesman from the chairman’s office declined to comment to Radio World on the reports Thursday night.

We’ve been reporting for months on speculation about Genachowski’s intention to depart after President Barack Obama’s first term was up.

The president appointed Genachowski, a Democrat, to the commission in 2009. He’s mostly been focused on the broadband rollout during his term.

If true, the news follows the announced departure of Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell, who said at the agency’s open meeting this week he intends to leave “in a few weeks,” we reported.

When asked about his plans after that meeting, the chairman said he had no news to report “and nothing to announce.”

The second announced departure would leave two slots at the agency to fill; nominations to big-ticket agencies like the FCC are often paired, with one Democrat and one Republican, to ensure easier Senate confirmation.

We reported earlier in the week Larry Strickling’s name has been floated as a possible replacement for the Democratic chairman. Strickling is chief of the NTIA. Blair Levin, former FCC chief of staff under former Chairman Reed Hundt, has also been suggested, as have the two women on the commission: Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel.

In a statement, Public Knowledge said if the chairman does announce his resignation, the public policy lobbying group urges “the President to appoint a new FCC chair who will put the public interest first, and who will restore the agency’s ability to protect the values so critical to our communications system and to our democracy — service to all Americans, openness, competition and diversity.”