There was laughter at the White House moments ago when the President, who was also smiling, said he anticipates “a speedy confirmation process.” That may be too much to expect following his nomination of Core Capital Partners’ Tom Wheeler, 67, to be the nation’s chief communications regulator. But the FCC won’t be leaderless once Chairman Julius Genachowski steps down: President Obama designated Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to be Acting Chairwoman until Wheeler’s aboard. Wheeler’s mandate is to make sure that the U.S. is “at the cutting edge” of technological change, promoting “American ingenuity and American innovation,” the President said. Genachowski says that he can “attest to Tom’s commitment to harness the power of communications technology to improve people’s lives, to drive our global competitiveness, and to advance the public interest.”
Others also are weighing in on the appointment of the long-time Obama ally. Wheeler ran the President’s transition effort for science, technology, space and arts agencies — and lobbied for the cable industry from 1979-1984 when he was president of the National Cable Television Association, and then represented wireless phone companies as CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA). NCTA Chief Michael Powell — who was FCC Chairman from 2001 to 2005 — called Wheeler “an exceptional choice.” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts lauded Wheeler’s “vast knowledge of the communications industry, as well as his proven leadership.” The National Association of Broadcasters’ Gordon Smith says the nominee has “the experience and temperament to serve the agency with distinction.”
But others say that they’ll reserve judgment for now. For example, Parents Television Council President Tim Winter wants Wheeler to commit to “serving the public interest, including the clear, consistent and vigorous enforcement of federal broadcast decency law.” Without a commitment, “we will oppose his confirmation.”
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