The full Senate late Thursday approved Julius Genachowski to lead the Federal Communications Commission. The Senate also returned Republican Robert McDowell to a second term as commissioner. Genachowski, 47, is a former Harvard Law classmate of President Barack Obama and general counsel under former chairman Reed Hundt. Genachowski reportedly raised more than $500,000 in political donations to the Obama campaign and has been widely praised for his business knowledge, technical vision and apparent commitment to network neutrality, media diversity and broadband buildout.
“I want to thank the members of the U.S. Senate for this enormous honor, first presented to me by President Obama to whom I am also deeply grateful,” Genachowski said. “The FCC has the inspiring mission of ensuring that our communications networks and technologies serve the nation’s needs and improve the lives of all Americans.” The new chairman is expected to focus heavily on the broadband rollout but he also touched on several issues of importance to broadcasters in a nomination hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee last week. He said he opposed reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine—which requires broadcasters to give equal time to opposing sides—because he believes it violates the free speech clause in the First Amendment. He also expressed his concerns over broadcast indecency, saying that “the FCC’s job in this area is to enforce the law. Congress has been clear on the indecency law.”
Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps, who will return to his post as a Democratic commissioner after Genachowski is sworn in and reports to work at the Portals, praised Genachowski’s “blend of talent, experience and dedication. I look forward to working with Julius and all my colleagues at the commission in tenacious pursuit of communications policy that truly puts the public interest first.”
NAB also congratulated the new chairman and nominees, as well as Larry Strickling, who won Senate approval to the head the NTIA. “President Obama could not have picked three more qualified candidates for these critically important public policy positions, and NAB looks forward to working with all of them on behalf of America’s free and local radio and television stations.”