FCC Commissioners trade notes


Commissioner Robert McDowell resubmitted a memo on evaluating the FCC to put it on a better footing to deal with upcoming challenges, and found an open and receptive audience in new Chairman Julius Genachowski. McDowell have originally submitted it upon the ascension of Michael Copps to Acting Chair back in late January, but Copps decided it best to let the incoming permanent Chairman consider the proposals (while he saw to the more pressing DTV transition). Genachowski thanked McDowell for his input, pointed out that one of his first hires was tasked with FCC reform and said the process is already under way.

McDowell suggested an internal audit to look at operational, financial and ethics matters, done quickly but seriously as in a pre-merger due-diligence audit. It would be part of a general look at reforming operations which would gather and incorporate input from FCC employees, stakeholders and the public alike. He also wants to update the FCC’s strategic plan, put emphasis on improving both external and internal communications, and he wants to start recruiting talent to replace an aging work force.

Mary Beth Richards, Special Counsel for FCC Reform, will be Genachowski’s point person on reform, which he assured McDowell will be a priority. He also said an internal website will be opened within the week to begin gathering employee comments and will later be expanded to allow access to the general public.

Genachowski cited openness, participation, fairness, efficiency and accountability as attributes supported by all three sitting commissioners, and which he intends to promote.

RBR/TVBR observation: From the looks of things, many of the reforms on the table will make a reporter’s job much easier. And apparently, the commissioners themselves sometimes had even more trouble getting info than we do – McDowell said no commissioner should ever have to find out about official actions through the trade press. This would seem to be yet another read-between-the-lines dig at former Chairman Kevin Martin, who built a reputation for playing his cards very close to his chest.