Summary:

The Democratic chairman is stepping down, according to the Wall Street Journal, just as a Republican commissioner is departing, preserving an administration-friendly majority on the commission.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski

The Wall Street Journal has it that Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski will resign tomorrow, clearing the way for President Obama to appoint the head of the country’s primary communications regulatory agency for the second time. The Journal cited two unnamed sources, one an official within the FCC.

Update: A spokesman from the FCC Chairman’s office declined to comment on the Journal story.

Genachowski replaced Kevin Martin (and interim FCC chairman Michael Copps) in 2009 after being nominated by Obama. Genachowski worked on Obama’s first presidential campaign as chairperson of his Technology, Media and Telecommunications Policy Working Group. The working group germinated the seeds of Obama’s National Broadband Plan, which Genachowski oversaw when he took over the reins of the commission.

Since then Genachowski has been in the spotlight on many occasions, advocating the need for more cellular spectrum and proposing the reallocation of TV airwaves for mobile broadband use. Some of those spectrum proposals, however, landed Genachowski and the commission in hot water, such as the conditional waiver -– later retracted — they granted LightSquared to use its satellite spectrum for a terrestrial LTE network.

Perhaps the most controversial period of his tenure, though, was the nearly one year that the FCC weighed and eventually quashed AT&T’s planned acquisition of T-Mobile. The decision is considered a victory for the competitive market and consumer choice after a long period of unfettered consolidation in the telecom industry.

Not all of the commission’s decisions have been so consumer friendly under Genachowski. The commission let pass Verizon’s spectrum deal with the cable operators, which has big implications for competition in the residential broadband market.

Genachowski’s retirement, if true, doesn’t come as a huge surprise. News reports have indicated that the forthcoming departure of Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell clears the way for Genachowski’s departure as well, as it leaves the commission with a 2-1 Democratic majority.

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