It’s official: Wheeler gets FCC chair nomination


Tom WheelerAs expected, President Barack Obama put forth the name of Core Capital Partners managing director Tom Wheeler to become the next FCC Chairman, pending approval by the US Senate. Current Chairman Julius Genachowski stated that he will be leaving office in mid-May.

According to the New York Times, Obama commented, “For more than 30 years, Tom’s been at the forefront of some of the very dramatic changes that we’ve seen in the ways we communicate and how we live our lives. Tom knows this stuff inside and out.”

Wheeler was a key fund-raiser for Obama’s presidential campaigns, and has been the leader of trade organizations NCTA and CTIA in the past.

Here is a sampling of what they’re saying about the nominee:

* Outgoing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski: I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Tom personally and professionally for almost 20 years.  I was pleased to appoint Tom as Chairman of the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council in 2010, and under his leadership the TAC has made strong contributions to the FCC’s work, including on unleashing spectrum for mobile, removing barriers to private investment, and strengthening our cyber security.  At this exciting time in this important sector, I can attest to Tom’s commitment to harness the power of communications technology to improve people’s lives, to drive our global competitiveness, and to advance the public interest.  The FCC’s role has never been more essential, and with Tom’s deep policy expertise and his first-hand experience as a technology investor, he is a superb choice to advance the FCC’s mission of promoting innovation, investment, competition, and consumer protection. Tom will be a great FCC Chairman, and I urge his swift confirmation.

* NAB’s Gordon Smith: NAB welcomes the nomination of Tom Wheeler as chairman of the FCC. He has the experience and temperament to serve the agency with distinction, and we look forward to working with him.

* Henry Waxman (D-CA), Ranking Member, House Energy & Commerce Committee: I congratulate Thomas Wheeler on his nomination to be Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.  If confirmed, Mr. Wheeler will lead an agency tasked with addressing issues critical to our economy, including successful implementation of the first ever incentive auctions and promoting continued competition and investment in fixed and mobile broadband.  Mr. Wheeler’s years of experience at the leading edge of communications policy will be a tremendous asset to the agency and the public interest.  I thank Mr. Wheeler for his willingness to serve and look forward to working closely with him.

* Anna Eshoo (D-CA) Ranking Member, House Communications Subcommittee: Tom Wheeler is a smart choice for Chairman of the FCC. His more than three decades of industry experience and expert policy know-how will be invaluable as we work to advance a 21st century telecommunications landscape guided by the core principles of competition, consumer protection and diversity. I look forward to working with him.

* Outgoing FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell: I am pleased that the President has chosen to nominate Tom Wheeler to be Chairman of the FCC.  I have had the privilege of knowing Tom for several years.  He brings with him a deep understanding of the marketplace from his many years of leadership and experience in the information, communications and technology sectors.  I have always known Tom to be thoughtful, insightful and eager to listen.  Furthermore, he is an accomplished scholar of American history – an unusual attribute which should give him a unique perspective as he works to shape public policy as FCC Chairman.  I wish him the best as he faces the many communications challenges that lie ahead.

* Gigi B. Sohn, Public Knowledge: As someone who has known Tom for years, I believe that he will be an independent, proactive Chairman who will not allow the FCC to become irrelevant as broadband becomes the dominant mode of communication in this country. I also expect that he will carry out the President’s communications policy agenda, which includes strong open Internet requirements, robust broadband competition, affordable broadband access for all Americans, diversity of voices and serious consumer protections, all backed by vigorous agency enforcement.  Some have expressed concern about Tom’s past history as the head of two industry trade associations. But his past positions should be seen in light of the times and in the context of his other important experiences and engagement with policy. Viewed as a whole, it is most significant that the President has expressed confidence that Tom will effectively carry out the Administration’s communications policy agenda. I have no doubt that we will disagree with Tom at times. But I also have no doubt that Tom will have an open door and an open mind, and that ultimately his decisions will be based on what he genuinely believes is est for the public interest, not any particular industry.  We look forward to Tom’s swift confirmation, and to working with him on the important issues that will shape our digital future.

* Craig Aaron, Free Press: The Federal Communications Commission needs a strong leader — someone who will use this powerful position to stand up to industry giants and protect the public interest. On paper, Tom Wheeler does not appear to be that person, having headed not one but two major trade associations. But he now has the opportunity to prove his critics wrong, clean up the mess left by his predecessor, and be the public servant we so badly need at the FCC. The FCC faces significant challenges — and historic opportunities — and Mr. Wheeler has a unique opportunity to address those issues, ranging from Net Neutrality and broadband competition to media diversity and election-ad transparency. He will face challenges from powerful companies to the most basic consumer protections and help determine whether the free and open Internet stays that way. We hope that he will embrace the FCC’s mission and fight for policies that foster genuine competition, promote diversity and amplify local voices. There is a much to be done — and the honeymoon will be short — but we look forward to working with Mr. Wheeler and the other commissioners at the FCC to engage the public and make policies that truly benefit all Americans.

* Alex Nogales, National Hispanic Media Coalition: I strongly believe that the next chair of the FCC must do more to address the communications needs of the poor, rural communities, and people of color. It is my hope that Mr. Wheeler possesses the desire to confront, head on, the challenges that these communities face, particularly when it comes to ownership, access, and adoption of the communications services that are essential to serving their information needs. Once Mr. Wheeler is confirmed, I look forward to discussing a number of NHMC’s priorities with him, including our longstanding petition for inquiry into hate speech in the media – a petition that languished under the previous chair despite widespread support within the FCC.

* Rob Atkinson, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation: ITIF congratulates Tom Wheeler on his nomination to lead the FCC. Wheeler is one of America’s broadband pioneers. His experience in the formative years of the cable and mobile industries gives him a unique perspective on the challenges facing technology businesses that will prove very helpful in his new role. In addition, Mr. Wheeler has been a leading advisor to the Obama administration on science and technology policy and the head of the FCC’s Technological Advisory Committee where he was a major force in supporting Chairman Genachowski’s efforts to promote broadband innovation.

* Patrick A. Trueman, Morality in Media: We demand that Members of the Senate Commerce Committee, which will hold confirmation hearings on the nominee, obtain Wheeler’s commitment to vigorously enforce the federal decency law before approving his nomination. Mr. Wheeler has a choice whether to side with the overwhelming majority of the public or to side with the broadcast networks on whether nudity and profanity will be allowed during hours when children are in the TV audience.