Monday, October 31, 2011

Obama Nominates Washington Insiders for the FCC

President Obama nominated Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai as FCC Commissioners. Both nominees are Washington insiders with existing connections to current commissioners.

Jessica Rosenworcel, who would replace Michael Copps when his term ends in December, is the Senior Communications Counsel for the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. She has worked for Senator Jay Rockefeller IV since 2009. Rosenworcel worked at the FCC from 1999 to 2007, serving as Legal Advisor and then Senior Legal Advisor to Commissioner Michael J. Copps (2003-2007), Legal Counsel to the Bureau Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau (2002-2003), and as an Attorney-Advisor in the Policy Division of the Common Carrier Bureau (1999-2002). She holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Ajit Varadaraj Pai, who would take the seat abandoned by Meredith Baker who took a job as a lobbyist for Comcast, is a Partner in the Litigation Department of Jenner & Block LLP. Previously, Pai worked in the Office of the General Counsel at the Federal Communications Commission, where he served as Deputy General Counsel, Associate General Counsel, and Special Advisor to the General Counsel. He holds a B.A. from Harvard University and a J.D. from the University of Chicago.

  • In May 2011, just months after voting to approve the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker has resigned to take up a new job as senior vice president of governmental affairs for Comcast. In announcing her decision to take up the new post, Baker did not address the apparent conflict of interest.

    Meredith Attwell Baker, a Republican, was nominated for a seat on the FCC by President Barack Obama on June 25, 2009. Previously, she served as Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and Acting Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

    In written statements posted on the FCC website, all four of the other FCC commissions expressed their congratulations and admiration for Baker.

    In approving the Comcast-NBCU mega-merger, the FCC and the Department of Justice imposed a number of conditions and commitments which generally will remain in effect for seven years. Among these, online video distributors (OVDs) are guaranteed the ability to obtain Comcast-NBCU programming. Comcast must also offer standalone broadband Internet access services at "reasonable" prices and of sufficient bandwidth so that customers can access online video services without the need to purchase a cable television subscription from Comcast.

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