Revolving Door Continues: FCC Edition

From Ars Technica:

President Barack Obama will nominate venture capitalist Tom Wheeler to be the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, The Wall Street Journal reported today. Wheeler is “a former top lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries” and will be nominated as soon as tomorrow, the Journal wrote. The Hill reporter Brendan Sasso said the White House has now confirmed that Wheeler will be nominated for the post.

The revolving door continues in Washington. After the previous FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced he was resigning, President Obama has picked Tom Wheeler to fight on behalf of consumers as the next FCC Chairman. The only problem is Wheeler has been a lobbyist for the same industry he is now supposed to regulate twice. Once as the President of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA), and second as CEO for the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA).

With such strong industry ties, it is very debatable from my vantage point that Wheeler will be any improvement over Genachowski, who presided over the Comcast/NBC Universal merger, allowed large loopholes in the Net Neutrality rules, and largely ignored the poor results of his own National Broadband Plan.

Indeed, the content and telephony industry has already begun to offer praise for Wheeler, with AT&T Senior Executive VP Jim Cicconi stating in a blog post:

I’ve known Tom Wheeler for many years, and he is an inspired pick to lead the FCC.  Mr. Wheeler’s combination of high intelligence, broad experience, and in-depth knowledge of the industry may, in fact, make him one of the most qualified people ever named to run the agency.

I can think of no nominee more talented or whose leadership skills are more needed. Moreover, Mr. Wheeler will be joining a complement of fellow commissioners who are equally formidable and well suited for this important moment in the FCC’s history.

Verizon Senior VP Craig Silliman also had positive remarks:

Verizon also congratulates Mr. Wheeler on his nomination; his experience and leadership will serve the commission well as it addresses policies involving the rapidly changing broadband and wireless industries.  Verizon looks forward to working with him and the commission to shape pro-consumer and pro-innovation policies in the communications marketplace.

In addition, at least Comcast, MPAA, CTIA, and NCTA have also released positive statements on the new FCC Commissioner.

While President Obama is not behaving any worse than his predecessors, President-Elect Barack Obama promised better:

I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists — and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president.

— Barack Obama, Speech in Des Moines, IA November 10, 2007


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