President-elect Barack Obama tabs Julius Genachowski to take over the reins at the Federal Communications Commission. As Obama's chief technology adviser during the presidential campaign, Genachowski promoted a detailed technology and innovation plan that supports net neutrality protections, expansion of affordable broadband and media-ownership rules that encourage more diversity. A former Harvard Law School classmate of Obama and the chief legal counsel at the FCC during the Clinton administration, Genachowski raised more than $500,000 for the Obama presidential campaign.
President-elect Barack Obama plans to nominate Julius Genachowski, Obama's
chief campaign technology adviser, as chairman of the Federal Communications
Commission, according to a number of media reports. A former Harvard
classmate of Obama and the chief legal counsel at the FCC during the Clinton
administration, Genachowski raised more than $500,000 for the Obama
During the campaign, Genachowski promoted a detailed technology and
innovation plan that supports net neutrality protections, expansion of
affordable broadband and media-ownership rules that encourage more diversity.
The 46-year-old Genachowski served as chief counsel to former FCC Chairman
Reed Hundt from 1994-1997. He is also the co-founder of Rock Creek Ventures and
LaunchBox Digital, a special adviser at General Atlantic, and a member of
various boards of directors and advisers. From 1997-2005, he was a senior
executive at IAC/InterActiveCorp, variously serving as chief of business operations,
general counsel and a member of the office of the chairman.
"Under Julius Genachowski's leadership, the FCC's compass would point
toward the public interest. President Obama has provided a clear road map of
his media and technology priorities," Free Press Executive Director Josh
Silver said in a statement. "We share Obama's goals of creating a more
diverse, democratic media system and providing fast, affordable, open Internet
access for everyone."
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Genachowski will take the reigns of the
nation's top telecommunications regulatory agency at a time when network
neutrality is a hotly debated topic and with the nation facing a Feb. 17
deadline for the digital television transition.
Under current Chairman Kevin Martin, the FCC has contended there is no need
for federal legislation mandating network neutrality, since the agency has
already established its own network neutrality principles.
In August, the
agency found Comcast guilty of secretly degrading network traffic,
violation of those principles. On a 3-2 vote, the FCC ordered Comcast to stop
blocking traffic, to disclose to the FCC the full extent of the cable giant's
traffic practices and to keep the public informed of its future network
The FCC said Comcast violated the agency's Internet policy when it blocked
P2P traffic by BitTorrent. The agency also found that Comcast misled consumers
when it did not properly disclose its P2P policy.
Obama's transition team told lawmakers Jan. 8 that Congress should delay the
Feb. 17 transition date for television stations to begin exclusively
broadcasting in digital. John Podesta, co-chair of the Obama transition group,
said there have been "major difficulties" in the digital TV
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced
Jan. 5 that funding for the $1.34 billion digital converter box coupon program has
The program allows for two $40 coupons per household to
help offset the cost of digital converter boxes for non-digital television
The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 requires
full-power television stations to cease analog broadcasts and switch to digital
after Feb. 17. The act authorized the NTIA to create the TV Converter Box
Coupon Program, which is funded from the proceeds of last year's 700MHz auction.