June 18, 2009 / 8:04 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-U.S. Senate panel approves FCC nominee

 * Senate Commerce Committee approves FCC nominee
 * Genachowski nomination next goes to full Senate
 * Second term for FCC's McDowell also approved
 (Recasts, adds background on nomination process, consumer
group comments)
 By John Poirier
 WASHINGTON, June 18 (Reuters) - The nomination of Julius
Genachowski to become the next chairman of the U.S. Federal
Communications Commission took a major step forward after the
Senate Commerce Committee voted on Thursday overwhelmingly in
favor of the Obama administration's nominee.
 The full Senate will next consider the nomination of
Genachowski, a law school friend of President Barack Obama and
technology industry executive.
 The committee approved Genachowski 24-1, with Republican
Jim DeMint the lone vote in opposition. The committee also
unanimously approved a second FCC term for Commissioner Robert
McDowell, a Republican.
 Earlier this week, Genachowski told the Senate committee
that he would focus on national broadband service and consumer
issues, if confirmed for the FCC job. The FCC will help oversee
billions of dollars in economic stimulus money that Congress
allocated in incentives for states and private companies to
expand high-speed Internet in rural and underserved areas.
 Genachowski and his pro-consumer remarks were received
warmly by the Democratic-led committee, which clashed with
former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, saying his policies were too
close to industry.
 It was not immediately known when the Senate might vote on
the two nominations.
 DeMint's office did not immediately have comment on why the
South Carolina senator voted against the Genachowski
nomination.
 Consumer groups praised the quick action by the committee
and urged the full Senate to vote quickly.
 "There is a lot of work to do, and we need all hands on
deck at the FCC," said Josh Silver, executive director of Free
Press.
 In the meantime Michael Copps, a Democrat, has been acting
chairman of the agency. The other two current members are
McDowell, a Republican, and Jonathan Adelstein, a Democrat.
 Adelstein is expected to leave the five-member commission.
 The Senate panel is also considering another Democrat and
Republican to fill two seats. Obama has nominated Mignon
Clyburn, the daughter of House Majority Whip James Clyburn of
South Carolina, to fill a Democratic seat.
 Meredith Attwell Baker is being considered for the
Republican seat. Baker, a former Commerce Department official,
has not been formally nominated by the Obama administration.
 As an adviser and fundraiser during the presidential
campaign, Genachowski headed a tech policy group and guided
Obama's use of social networking on the Internet to reach out
to voters.
 In the private sector, Genachowski held various positions
at Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp IACI.O and co-founded
technology investment firm Rock Creek Ventures. He also served
on the boards or as advisers to Ticketmaster TKTM.O, Web.com
WWWW.O, The Motley Fool, Beliefnet, Truveo, and Rapt.
 Consumer and industry groups have said Genachowski's
business background and his friendship with Obama would give
telecoms and new media a higher profile than during the Bush
administration. Among the FCC's broad mandates are regulation
of telephone and cable companies, oversight of ownership of
radio and television outlets, and auctioning public airwaves.
 RELATED NEWS:
 * FCC nominee: Consumers are top priority [ID:nN16295072]
 * Top News - Technology, Media & Telecoms [TOP/TMT]
 (Reporting by John Poirier; editing by Matthew Lewis)
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