The Senate Thursday night confirmed President Obama’s choice of Julius Genachowski as new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
Genachowski is expected to be formally sworn in next week — and will likely bring big changes to the FCC.
A personal friend of the president from the Harvard Law School days and a former FCC official, who went on to work for Barry Diller, Genachowski was responsible for the Obama campaign’s platform on technology issues. He is expected to bring a more consumer-oriented focus to the commission and perhaps more pressure for broadcasters to devote more of their broadcast day to local content.
He also is expected to bring more scrutiny to deals that consolidate media ownership.
"I want to thank the members of the U.S. Senate for this enormous honor, first presented to me by President Obama to whom I am also deeply grateful," Genachowski said i a statement. "The FCC has the inspiring mission of ensuring that our communications networks and technologies serve the nation’s needs and improve the lives of all Americans.
"I salute the exceptional work and dedication of Acting Chairman Michael Copps, Commissioners Robert McDowell and Jonathan Adelstein, and the FCC’s employees in advancing that mission. I look forward to collaborating with Commissioners Copps and McDowell during this dynamic time of extraordinary opportunity."
The Senate also confirmed Republican Robert McDowell to a second FCC term.
The confirmations came on the same day Obama made it official that he is tapping Meredith Attwell Baker for the remaining unfilled position on the FCC. The appointment had been long rumored.
Baker, also a Republican, had been the acting assistant secretary for the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration from 2007 to last January. In that job had overseen the coupon program for DTV converter boxes.
She was previously a lawyer on telecommunications and intellectual property issues, senior counsel for Covad Communications and before that director of congressional affairs for the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association.
The confirmations, one upcoming departure and two pending appointments to the FCC indicate the FCC’s makeup will be going through major changes.
The third current FCC commissioner, Jonathan Adelstein, a Democrat, will depart for another administration post.
Besides Baker, Obama has appointed Mignon Clyburn to be a commissioner. Clyburn, a Democrat, is the daughter of House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.
When Genachowski takes over, acting chairman Michael J. Copps, a Democrat, will return to his regular role as a commissioner.
"I congratulate Julius Genachowski on his Senate confirmation," Copps said in a statement. "I believe Julius brings just the right blend of talent, experience and dedication to lead the FCC toward the more active role it must play if all our citizens are to enjoy the blessings and bounties of 21st century communications."