FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Balanced Business, Public Interests
NEWS ANALYSIS: The high-profile Federal Communications Commission chairman is leaving the agency after a contentious term that rankled many but also accomplished much.It’s not often in Washington, D.C., when a government official manages to annoy and sometimes infuriate people from all across the political spectrum. But that’s exactly what Julius Genachowski did, and he achieved that distinction by making his best effort to do his job as he saw fit. When he took office, Genachowski said that he was going to do what he could to improve access to broadband, that he was going to fight industry consolidation and help promote competition in the telecom marketplace. Genachowski is probably best known for his fight against the proposed purchase by AT&T of smaller rival T-Mobile USA. His strongly held conviction was that the merger, if approved, would be anticompetitive and would concentrate too much power in one company. While his stance infuriated AT&T, a wide range of activists hailed the move. But those same activists decried Genachowski’s approval of the merger between Comcast and NBC Universal. This time, they accused the FCC and Genachowski of allowing what he said he would fight again, allowing too much concentration of market power in one entity. Perhaps those activists haven’t noticed NBC’s dismal slide since Comcast took over. Instead of concentrating power, Comcast’s ownership of NBC seems to have diminished it.
But here in Washington it says a lot when a federal regulator can have both the industry and the activists against him at the same time. What it says is that generally he’s doing the right thing and not favoring special interests on either side. But during his tenure, the FCC became a solidly centrist agency. Industry was allowed to flourish within limits, but there WERE limits.