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Lawmakers Get to Query Potential FCC Chair Tuesday

Former telecom and cable industry group executive Tom Wheeler to face Senate lawmakers

We’ll learn more about President Obama’s choice as next FCC chairman on Tuesday.

The Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee has slated a nomination hearing for Tom Wheeler, a former telecom and cable industry group executive. The broadband rollout and broadcast indecency are likely to be big discussion topics.

The former National Cable & Telecommunications Association chief ran NCTA from 1979 to 1984. Wheeler later became head of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association from 1992 to 2003.

Wheeler was named managing director of Washington-based investment firm Core Capital in 2005. He also chairs the FCC’s Technology Advisory Council. Like former Chairman Julius Genachowski, Wheeler, too was an Obama campaigner and fundraiser, so the hearing will likely touch on that.

He’s already pledged to divest his telecom holdings, such as shares of AT&T Inc., Dish Network Corp., Google Inc. as well as shares of other tech companies like Microsoft, Apple and Harris Corp. — and media companies like Liberty Media Corp. and News Corp. — if he’s confirmed.

The FCC’s efforts to slightly relax its broadcast indecency rules will likely be discussed. Public comments are due tomorrow to GN Docket 13-86.

The committee and then the full Senate would need to approve the choice of Wheeler.

The president has not yet named a nominee for the open GOP seat on the commission.