BusinessWeek today has a short list of the people being considered to head up the Federal Communications Commission. The decision as to who will be appointed FCC Chair is a critical one, for in coming years the country faces some major issues that will need to […]

11BusinessWeek today has a short list of the people being considered to head up the Federal Communications Commission. The decision as to who will be appointed FCC Chair is a critical one, for in coming years the country faces some major issues that will need to be addressed head on — not from a corporate, but from a citizen perspective, including Network Neutrality, the availability of broadband, telecom competition and privacy. Among those in the running are:

  • Julia Johnson: Florida consultant and chairperson of the Video Access Alliance who also sits on the board of the networks builder MasTec.
  • Mignon Clyburn: Commissioner for the Public Service Commission of South Carolina and daughter of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.
  • Blair Levin: Managing director at investment firm Stifel Nicolaus and former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt’s chief of staff.
  • Scott Blake Harris: Managing partner with law firm Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis, where he has represented technology and telecom companies.
  • Larry Strickling: Currently works for policy think tank Aspen Institute, a Harvard Law School grad, and previously worked for Broadwing, which was acquired by Level 3.

The Obama team is taking recommendations from former FCC Chairmen Bill Kennard and Reed Hundt, along with Henry Rivera, a lawyer who works for the law firm Wiley Rein and represents companies including AT&T, Verizon, Viacom and Sirius Satellite Radio.

Those three folks, with their links to powerful communication companies, represent the old guard. And that is why I am really scared that we might be getting yet another ineffectual, bureaucratic FCC chair who puts special interests ahead of taxpayer needs. Current Chairman Kevin Martin just happens to be one of the more disappointing of the bunch.

If I had to pick from the above-mentioned short list, Levin and Strickling would be on my short list of candidates. Nevertheless, President-elect Obama should look outside the beltway and find someone who truly represents the taxpayers.

Tom Evslin, who is a retired telecom executive, is the kind of person I would expect to be in the FCC. He knows the machinations of the big companies and at the same time is an Internet liberal who can keep broadband providers and their anti-consumer tricks under check.

Who would you like to see named as chair?

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  1. Tom Evslin, absolutely! I’ve read his blog for years. He’d be a great commissioner! How about Carl Ford while we’re at it? Not for chair, but as a commissioner. We need some folks who understand the post-millennial internet era.

  2. Prof Lawrence Lessig or Jennifer Granick, let’s some folks with a decent tech agenda in there.

  3. Om:

    I’m flattered but the person who really knows where the broadbandits play is the one who wrote the book. On the other hand, we’d miss you here online:-)

  4. NickH

    my criterion for Tom is – business guy and an internet libertarian — not too far on the right, not too far on the left. he understands the complexities better than a lot of our other friends. Prof. lessig is great but I am not sure — i fret about people with very close links to Google, which is as much of a devil as some of the telecom incumbents and is using money to get its way in Washington.

  5. @Tom Evslin

    I have a much bigger debt to pay to the american society and part of that is creating jobs and opportunity for others. more importantly, i don’t have a clue about being politically astute. Tom you are my PICK for this job and I am STICKING to it

  6. I think Evslin is a superb suggestion, as are several on the BusinessWeek list. However, I’m reporting that Julia Johnson has provided enormous support to bell causes while apparently receiving substantial income from them. My sources include her own Congressional testimony. That would seem to preclude her chances with Obama. Some of statements lead me to distrust her judgment as well. Details coming,

  7. So, this list is from “someone who knows how Rivera thinks”!

    Does that means this is a for-real leak – or just myth designed to get hits for BizWeek?

  8. While I think real justice would be served if he took over Ken Tomlinson’s chair as the head of the CPB – I would like to see Bill Moyers running the FCC – Chuck D. on the other hand would provide a breath of fresh air inside the beltway as well … Do we really need another insider there even if he/she is one of our insiders?

  9. Too bad there isn’t a campaign for FCC Chairman | Adam Chernow: Director, Editor, Geek, and Website Builder Monday, November 10, 2008

    [...] heard that President Elect Obama was mulling over people to chair the FCC. In fact, GigaOM has a write up on this. Too bad I can’t get my name into consideration… Hmm… Maybe, Mr. Obama reads my [...]

  10. “Outside the Beltway” sounds like a great idea, but the reality of what the FCC still is — lots of bureaucracy and old rules that aren’t going away soon — seems to necessitate the need for someone who has been there, done that, if for no other reason than to keep the non-altruistic forces at bay. Since the FCC right now is still more about politics than technology, more about rural state senators and universal-service fees than really solving the country’s broadband problems, I would vote for someone who knows the ropes and can start fixing the institution from the inside, in step with the well-thought-out plans for the overall Obama technology agenda.

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