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Obama Picks Julius Genachowski To Head FCC

Genachowski mirrors Obama's support for providing more robust broadband access to Americans and for net neutrality.

President-elect Barack Obama is drawing on his old school ties for his reported selection of venture capitalist and former FCC legal counsel Julius Genachowski to head the Federal Communications Commission.

Genachowski and Obama were classmates at Harvard Law School. Genachowski is something of a double threat, having filled important government staff positions in Washington and working at a brace of private business ventures.

While the appointment wasn't formally announced as of Tuesday morning, Democratic Party sources said Genachowski was Obama's choice. When Obama won the presidential election, Genachowski became an immediate and logical choice for the FCC post because of his position as Obama's chief technology adviser during the campaign and because he had previously served as legal counsel to ex-FCC chairman Reed Hundt.

Genachowski has had one foot in the Washington scene as a consultant and another as a business executive. After law school, he clerked for Supreme Court Justice David Souter and for retired Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. On his business side, he served for eight years in senior positions at Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp. He's also served on the boards of Expedia, Hotels.com, and Ticketmaster.

Genachowski mirrors Obama's support for providing more robust broadband access to Americans and for net neutrality, a principle that calls for equal access to the Internet.

A series of controversies awaits the new chairman of the FCC, not the least of which is the planned Feb. 17 switchover from analog to digital TV reception that will affect millions of Americans, perhaps adversely. The program, which calls for users of old analog TVs to be set up for converter boxes to receive the new digital signals, has already run out of funding and many consumers have complained about the program, even before it begins.

The incoming Obama administration has already called for postponing the Feb. 17 date.

The outgoing FCC chairman is Kevin Martin.

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