President Obama has nominated Tom Wheeler, another in a long line of political hacks at the FCC, for the FCC chair. This choice receives mixed reviews from observers: Obama’s new FCC chairman isn’t a reflexive shill for carriers, but he’s still a bad pick. His close ties to the cable TV and mobile phone industries worry me. Wheeler is former head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the mobile wireless trade group CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association). Translation: he lobbied for these industries. He’s also a major Obama campaign fund raiser. (His predecessor, Julius Genachowski, was an Obama election campaign committee official.) Nothing new here — it merely continues a long tradition of patronage at the FCC.
|Remember Obama’s “no lobbyists in my administration” pledge?
In my opinion, Mr. Wheeler is way too closely connected to industries that fall under the FCC’s oversight. You can bet that his cable TV and cellular provider buddies hope that Congress approves his nomination as FCC Chairman. It’s ironic that the two segments of the American electronic communications market that are infamous for gouging the consumer are the industries for which he’s been a champion. If he runs the FCC, don’t expect change in either of these cozy shared marketplaces. Both industries are fat and happy, with limited competition. In fact, expect legislation to prevent municipalities and Google Fiber et al from competing with the incumbents.
Now, more than ever, the FCC Chairman should be independent of industry associations. Tim Wu, respected telecommunications observer, writing in The New Yorker, described The Coming War Over Net Neutrality. uncoveror comments,
The FCC, by getting in bed with the industries it is supposed to regulate, has undermined its very reason to exist. They are a corrupt agency for sale to the highest bidder.
I hope that Wheeler’s appointment is bounced by Congress and Mr. Obama instead nominates Susan Crawford, who doesn’t seem to be in any industry’s pocket. I almost forgot: she didn’t raise election funds for Mr. Obama. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?
Video clip: former FCC board member Nicholas Johnson calls Wheeler’s nomination “somewhere between bizarre and outrageous”.
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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695