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1/23/2009
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Obama Names Acting FCC Chair

Michael J. Copps will likely step aside when a permanent chairman is named to head the Federal Communications Commission.

Michael J. Copps has been selected by President Obama as acting chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

An FCC commissioner since 2001, Copps acknowledged his transitional role Thursday, stating: "I pledge every effort I am capable of to help steer the commission through its current transition to new leadership."

A Democrat, Copps is likely to step aside when a permanent chairman is named to head the FCC. Its most previous chairman, Kevin Martin, a Republican, resigned early this week to take a position at think tank Aspen Institute.

Julius Genachowski, a former FCC legal counsel and member of Obama's transition team, has been widely rumored to be the President's choice to head the FCC, but Genachowski has been busy with his work on the transition team. Obama made technology advancement a key part of his campaign and Genachowski has had a role in formulating the new administration's technology philosophy. When his work on the transition team is completed, Genachowski would presumably be available for the FCC post.

Copps held positions at the U.S. Department of Commerce before he joined the FCC. He had also served as chief of staff for a dozen years for Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C. The other Democrat on the FCC is Jonathan Adelstein, who serves alongside the only Republican on the FCC, Robert McDowell.

In addition to a new chairman, Obama will have another position to fill on the FCC.

Big things are likely to be in store for Genachowski in the Obama administration and the FCC chairmanship would qualify for that. In addition to his service as legal counsel for ex-FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, Genachowski was a classmate of Obama's at Harvard Law School. Genachowski also worked as a venture capitalist and at various technology companies including Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp.

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