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6/3/2009
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Obama Re-Nominates FCC Commissioner To Stabilize Agency

Decimated by the resignation of former chairman Kevin Martin, the FCC has been functioning with a skeleton staff of commissioners for months.

Still awaiting a permanent chairman, the FCC moved closer to filling out its ranks this week when President Obama announced he would renominate Robert McDowell as a commissioner, extending his tenure set to expire June 30.

McDowell was appointment by President George W. Bush in 2006.

With the appointment of McDowell, a Republican with an independent streak, virtually assured, the way is smoothed for the Senate Commerce Committee to move ahead on holding confirmation hearings for the commission appointments of Julius Genachowski, who has been nominated for the permanent chairman’s position, and Mignon Clyburn, daughter of House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina.

The FCC, decimated by the resignation of Chairman Kevin Martin and the planned resignation of commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, has been functioning with a skeleton staff of commissioners for months. The president is expected to nominate still another commissioner. Adelstein, who has been named to oversee a $2.5 billion U.S. Agriculture Department rural telecom program, is expected to leave the FCC.

Genachowski, a former FCC legal counsel who also has had a long career in venture capital investing and business consulting and management, had functioned as a top technology adviser to Obama during the presidential campaign. He was also a classmate of the president at Harvard Law School.

McDowell’s renomination was immediately hailed by fellow commissioners Adelstein and acting chairman Michael Copps. An attorney, McDowell has worked at telecommunications industry trade associations Comptel and ACTA. In recent months, he made several trips across the United States to assist in the switchover to digital TV. The major phase of the DTV switch is scheduled to take place next week.


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