FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz may be moving to the big chair – he’s been at the agency since 2004. He would replace Republican William Kovacic, who figures to stay on as a rank and file commissioner. Leibowitz has a stint working with the late Jack Valenti as a lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America. During his time at the FTC he has been a consumer advocate. According to Bloomberg, he was a dissenting vote back when Comcast and Time Warner were allowed to carve up assets of Adelphia Communications, arguing that conditions should guarantee access to sports programming to competitors.
RBR/TVBR observation: The hurdles to getting a merger through the FTC figured to be higher under the Obama administration, and this pick falls right in line with that prediction. Not that it probably matters much right now. What would be a very good sign for business in general is the ability of anybody to put together a big enough merger to even warrant the FTC’s notice. What will be interesting is to see what happens when the alternative to a merger is a major corporate failure.