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Obama Appoints Copps As Acting FCC Chair

FCC commissioner Michael Copps will keep the chairman’s seat warm while the Obama administration prepares for a transition to a new leader from Republican Kevin Martin, whose resignation took effect on inauguration day. Julius Genachowski is reported to be President Obama’s choice for the job but that has not been made official; Copps will head the FCC as acting chairman during the nomination-confirmation cycle. (via Multichannel News)

It’s an odd situation: with Martin’s departure, Copps, appointed in 2001, is one of only three commissioners left; the other two are relative newcomer Robert McDowell, the lone Republican, and fellow Democrat Jonathan Adelstein. (The latter’s congratulatory statement is longer than the statements of Copps and McDowell combined. The three links are pdfs.) It also comes at a time when the FCC can ill-afford to be distracted, especially with the confusion over the digital television transition.

In addition to the new chairman, Obama has a fifth commissioner to appoint. One possibility: Susan Crawford, who teaches internet law and communications law at the University of Michigan Law School; she was on the board of ICANN and founded OneWebDay. Another (although this administration is unlikely to go all male): Kevin Werbach is an assistant professor of legal studies at Wharton, the founder of the Supernova tech conference and a former FCC counsel for new technology. Adelstein’s term ended June 30, but he can stay through 2009 so there could be another new commissioner.

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