Newly installed FCC Chair Julius Genachowski had his first internal chat with his new employees at the FCC, received the endorsement of the Seattle Times, and may get to sleep in before his first FCC Open Meeting today. To address the last point first, the time of the meeting has been pushed back to 11:30AM – it had been scheduled for 10AM. The newspaper suggested that Genachowski would be a strong advocate for consumers, and Genachowski used his bully pulpit in a call for the FCC to lead America in to the communications future.
In the Seattle Times piece, authored by Ryan Blethen, Genachowski was presented as an improvement from the get-go over Kevin Martin and Michael Powell, who both were portrayed as too cozy with communications corporations.
He expects Genachowski to foster an open network-neutral internet, and to keep broadcast/print cross-ownership restrictions in place, and generally called on him to pursue policies that encourage diverse media ownership, moving away from the consolidation that has dominated the broadcast scene for well over ten years.
Genachowski himself certainly mentioned broadband, but didn’t have all that much to say about broadcasting, other than to express his gratitude to current FCC staffers in general and Michael Copps in particular for a stunningly well executed DTV transition. He noted that DTV-Day was just four days before his own confirmation hearing, and was particularly grateful that he did not spend time at the hearing answering tough questions about a failed transition.
He called his new colleagues “…the most important people I want to thank today: YOU, the women and men who make this agency tick. You are this agency’s greatest asset, and you are the main reason I am so optimistic about what we can achieve together.”
He did acknowledge that there was still work to be done on DTV.
Looking ahead, he said, “With each passing day, communications devices and networks become more essential to the fabric of the daily lives of all Americans. They are how we receive news, information, and entertainment; how we stay in touch with our friends and family—simply to talk, or in times of emergency; how we work at and run our businesses, large and small; how we—and people across the globe—learn about government, and express points of view. Put simply, our communications infrastructure is the foundation upon which our economy and our society rest. And it has never been more important that we unleash its potential.”
He laid out six areas to focus on, while noting that the list is in no way comprehensive. Here are Genachowski’s primary areas of interest.
a. Promoting universal broadband that’s robust, affordable and open.
b. Pursuing policies that promote job creation, competition, innovation and investment.
c. Protecting and empowering consumers and families.
d. Helping deliver public safety communications networks with the best technology to serve our firefighters, police officers, and other first responders.
e. Advancing a vibrant media landscape, in these challenging times, that serves the public interest in the 21st century.
f. Seizing the opportunity for the United States to lead the world in mobile communications.
RBR/TVBR observation: Genachowski explicitly mentioned the need to encourage investment. Policies to achieve that goal can often come into conflict with restrictions set in place to protect consumers. It will be interesting to see how the new Chairman goes about walking this particular tightrope.