Our big news this week, obviously, was the big announcement from the Federal Communications Commission’s meeting March 20 that Robert McDowell, the current commissioner with the most tenure, is stepping down from the FCC. “[I]t is time to turn more of my energies towards an even higher calling: serving my family,” Commissioner McDowell said. He indicated that he would leave the FCC in a few weeks. Well, that WAS the big story right up to the moment we started penning this round-up and then heard that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski would announce his departure from the FCC on March 22.
Commissioner McDowell had hardly finished his announcement before observers said that move makes it easier for Chairman Genachowski to soon follow him to the doors. The pair’s departure means Democrats will still have a 2-1 voting advantage until new commissioners are nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the US Senate. The Senate also seems to like to confirm commissioners in Republican-Democrat pairs, so this could help move that process along.
While much of the recent talk has been about Genachowski’s eventual replacement, there appears to be no leading candidate to succeed Commissioner McDowell. The most often mentioned include Ray Baum, a senior aide to House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), and Neil Fried, senior telecommunications counsel to the House Commerce Committee.
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