WASHINGTON, March 21 Federal Communications
Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski will announce on Friday
that he will step down, according to an FCC official, leaving
the agency after a four-year term that focused heavily on
improving Internet access across the country.
Genachowski told FCC staff on Thursday of his plans to make
the Friday announcement, the official and an industry source
said. He has been widely expected to exit in coming weeks. His
term expires in June.
A spokesman in Genachowski's office declined to comment.
The news comes in the same week that Robert McDowell, senior
Republican commissioner on the five-member panel, said he will
leave in a few weeks. The FCC oversees TV,
radio, cable, satellite and Internet industries.
Rules governing FCC appointments mean President Barack Obama
will nominate a new Republican commissioner and a Democratic
chair in coming days and the two will likely go through their
Senate confirmations at the same hearing.
Several people are considered likely candidates to head the
FCC. One is Tom Wheeler, venture capitalist and an Obama ally
and fundraiser who is a known figure in Washington telecom
circles thanks to his lobbying history at the National Cable
Television Association and the wireless industry group CTIA.
Other possible candidates are Lawrence Strickling, head of
the National Telecommunications and Information Administration;
Karen Kornbluh, most recently ambassador to the Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development; and Blair Levin, a former
FCC staff member and now industry analyst.