Commerce set to consider NTIA head


After going through one of its most high-profile years with temporary leadership, the NTIA is finally about to get its top slot filled, if Lawrence Strickling comes out of next week’s Senate Commerce Committee nominations hearing unscathed. Strickling’s official title, if confirmed, will be hard to fit on a business card, but that’s Washington for you – try squeezing this into three and a half inches: Assistant Secretary for Telecommunications and Information, National Telecommunications and Information Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Strickling may be somewhat of an afterthought, though, with Aneesh Choprah sharing the same stage. Choprah is getting the job that Julius Genachowski reportedly could have had but turned down to become FCC Chairman instead. It’s another business card buster: Chief Technology Officer, Office of Science and Technology Policy at the Executive Office of the President.

Also, one of the acting NTIA heads during the past year is getting press play as a possible Republican candidate for an FCC commissionership. That would be Meredith Atwell-Baker. She did a respectable job of riding herd on the coupon program. It did run out of postage at the beginning of 2009, but it’s not like she didn’t warn Congress that such an event was a real possibility.

Three other candidates will be grilled: John D. Porcari, to be Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation; J. Robert Babbitt, to be Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration; and Rebecca M. Blank, to be the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The hearing is scheduled for 11AM on Tuesday, 5/19/09.

RBR/TVBR observation: NTIA rarely is responsible for anything of consequence when it comes to broadcasting. In fact, administering the converter box coupon program is the only actual project we can think of that it has handled. So if Strickling is sworn in, it will likely be into an immediate future of relative obscurity.