FCC draws to a full house


The Federal Communications Commission will be back to full strength just as soon as Mignon Clyburn (D) and Meredith Attwell Baker (R) take their oaths. The US Senate on Friday approved both by unanimous consent. They had been nominated by President Barack Obama to fill the open 4th and 5th seats on the FCC.
Both were congratulated by the usual suspects.

NAB’s Dennis Wharton said, “NAB salutes the Senate for confirming Meredith Attwell Baker and Mignon Clyburn as new Commissioners at the FCC. Their commitment to public service, and their understanding of media-related issues will serve the Commission and consumers well. NAB looks forward to working with Commissioners Baker and Clyburn and their FCC colleagues on behalf of America’s free and local radio and television stations.”

Commerce Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) both weighed in.

Rockefeller’s comments qualified as insightful compared to the standard boilerplate that often is used for these types of statements. He said, “I am incredibly pleased to see the President’s nominees, Ms. Mignon L. Clyburn and Ms. Meredith Attwell Baker, confirmed by the United States Senate. As a seasoned state regulator, Ms. Clyburn brings with her a strong understanding of the telecommunications challenges rural Americans face everyday. With Ms. Baker, I look forward to an insider’s perspective of someone who has toiled in the trenches at the NTIA. I challenge both of these devoted public servants to show us that the FCC can put consumers first. And I challenge both to show us that the American people can have access to first class communications, no matter who they are or where they live.”

Hutchison also went above and beyond the standard press release, especially when commenting on a fellow Texan. “Being a native of Texas will no doubt provide Meredith Baker with a unique understanding of the communications issues facing rural and urban America,” she said. “She has an incredible breadth of experience in federal communications policymaking, and she will be a great asset to the FCC as it considers and develops the National Broadband Plan. Mignon Clyburn’s background in print media provides her with an important perspective to understand the challenges facing traditional media outlets in these difficult economic times. I am pleased the Senate acted swiftly on the confirmation of Ms. Baker and Ms. Clyburn so they can begin to tackle the many issues confronting the FCC.”

Both newcomers were also welcomed aboard by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and no-longer-lone-Republican Robert McDowell.

Of Clyburn, Genachoswki said, “Mignon’s deep commitment to public service, experience in state government, and entrepreneurial expertise will be invaluable assets to this agency. I enthusiastically await Mignon’s arrival at the FCC and the opportunity to collaborate with her on advancing our shared goal of improving the lives of all Americans through communications.” McDowell added, “As I have noted before, we all stand to benefit from her strong communications background as a Commissioner on South Carolina’s Public Service Commission and as a newspaper publisher coupled with her extensive involvement in community organizations.”

Regarding Attwell Baker, Genachowski stated, “Meredith is a distinguished public servant who will bring unique insight and expertise to bear in the agency’s policymaking process.” McDowell said, ““I congratulate my friend, Meredith Attwell Baker, on her confirmation to be Commissioner of the FCC.  Meredith brings to the Commission vast experience in both the public and private sectors, a deep understanding of the communications marketplace, and a steadfast commitment to public service.”

RBR/TVBR observation: The newly seated commissioners should have a little bit of time to get acclimated before having to appear in public. A planned oversight hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Committee was been postponed indefinitely, and the next FCC Open Meeting isn’t until the end of August.