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Senate Confirms New FCC Chair
November 01, 2013
Much to the relief of those in the telecommunications industry, the U.S. Senate this week approved Tom Wheeler (News - Alert) to be the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. The move means the agency can begin operating under a permanent leader after a holding period of several months.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz lifted his block on the nomination after meeting with Wheeler and receiving affirmation that the FCC (News - Alert) would not pursue new disclosure rules for sponsors of political ads. Some Democrats had suggested that the FCC's existing oversight authority over broadcasters could be used to force TV advertisers to name specific sponsors for each political spot they buy after legislating such rules failed in Congress.
"What excites me about this new responsibility is how we are at a hinge moment of history; the Internet is the greatest communications revolution in the last 150 years," Wheeler said in a statement. “We must all dedicate ourselves to encouraging its growth, expanding what it enables, and assuring its users' rights are respected," he added.
The telecommunications industry welcomed Wheeler's confirmation. Up until now, the FCC had been in a “holding pattern,” unable to more forward on several important initiatives, including a major reshuffling of airwave ownership.
The FCC has been without a permanent leader since former Chairman Julius Genachowski (News - Alert) left in May. It has been working since then under Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn, the first woman to head the agency.
FCC operations, including approvals of new device licenses and acceptance of routine required filings, were stalled by the government shutdown during the first half of October. All but a few dozen of its roughly 1,700 workers were furloughed.
Wheeler has worked at a venture capital firm investing in technology, raised money for Obama's political campaigns and advised Obama and the FCC on telecom issues, according to Reuters (News - Alert). He was previously an industry lobbyist, running the National Cable Television Association and then the wireless industry group CTIA.
Edited by Blaise McNamee
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