Tuesday, June 30, 2009

USA: The new FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, took his oath of office and appointed key personal staff

[Washington Post] Julius Genachowski was sworn in today as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, beginning a tenure that is expected to bring more attention to new mobile and Internet technologies.

Genachowski also announced his key staff, stressing the private and public sector experience they will bring to the agency. Genachowski has been widely lauded for his experience in Washington as an entrepreneur and later as an investor. He served two clerkships and as general counsel for former FCC chairman Reed Hundt. Later he became an executive for IAC/InterActive, which bought several Internet firms, and founder of LaunchBox Digital and venture capital firm Rock Creek Ventures.

"The FCC should be a model of excellence in government," Genachowski said. "The agency will benefit enormously from their leadership, from their private and public sector experience . . ."

He chose as his chief of staff, Edward Lazarus, a relative unknown in the telecommunications industry. Lazarus comes from the law firm Akin Gump, where he supervised the Los Angeles office of 800 employees and was the co-head of the firm's global litigation practice.

Genachowski also appointed two senior advisors.

Colin Crowell, a veteran telecommunications aide for Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass), will be a strategic advisor to the chairman, who will oversee communications, legislative and intergovernmental affairs. The role, which is a newly created focus for the chairman's office, indicates an emphasis on relations between the FCC and other agencies and the FCC's relationship with members on Capitol Hill. President Obama has stressed the importance of broadband Internet development as a tool for solving problems in education, healthcare and other areas and the FCC has been charged with coming up with a plan by next summer to bring high-speed Internet to all Americans. Crowell, who worked for Markey for more than 20 years, helped craft the clause in the stimulus plan that assigns the FCC its mandate for a national broadband Internet plan.

The other senior advisor, Bruce Gottleib, comes from Commissioner Michael J. Copps' office, where he specialized in wireless Internet and public safety issues. Gottleib will be Genachowski's senior legal advisor and will manage the agency's overall agenda and coordinate policy between the FCC's bureaus.

Genachowski has several issues lined up for his start. He will have to come up with a national broadband plan that not only connects all homes to high-speed Internet but also addresses issues of affordability and lack of training on how to use the Web. Public interest groups and small telecommunications firms, meanwhile, have pushed for reforms that would increase competition. Genachowski has promised Senate Commerce Committee leaders he will review a complaint by rural wireless carriers that exclusive deals between large carriers and handset makers are anticompetitive.

Genachowski Begins at FCC; Announces Senior Staff

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