Commissioners debut as expected


There were no pressing broadcast items on Thursday’s FCC Open Meeting, but we can say that political considerations made by each side of the aisle of the Senate Commerce Committee when selecting the newest members of the FCC appear to have been amply rewarded.

On the agenda were kick-offs for information gathering on wireless issues (in particular, wireless broadband and wireless competition), along with a look at business practices regarding communication with customers. The new quintet of commissioners was able to bestow unanimous consent on all three items.

In voting yes three times, Mignon Clyburn left no doubt that she was in the Michael Copps wing of the FCC’s 8th Floor. She was all about consumers – there must be ample competition that provides consumers with lower prices and ample choices. And the competition to be a provider of communications services must be open so that there is room for new, small entrants.

Meredith Baker, in voting yes three times, left no doubt that she was a member of the Robert McDowell wing of the FCC’s 8th Floor. She was all about protecting consumers, but with a light regulatory touch to spur investment. She warned about the law of unintended consequences, and reminded that in her opinion there were limits to the FCC’s authority.

RBR/TVBR observation: Both Michael Powell and Kevin Martin were generally able to count on the votes of their party members, but not always. Martin also had to deal with a prolonged period during which the third Republican seat was empty.

For Chairman Julius Genachowski, we predict he’ll be able to count on both sets of commissioners voting together more often than not. The most likely swing vote? He will be. But expect him more often than not to vote like a Democrat.