Republican FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker looks like an 8th Floor short-timer – word is out that she plans to exit the Commission soon to take a position in the Washington office of Comcast. Former NCTA chief Kyle McSlarrow is another high-profile hire by Comcast in the year it kicked off its joint venture with NBCUniversal.
Baker is the one of the two newest Commissioners along with Democrat Mignon Clyburn. She was nominated by President Barack Obama for the post on 6/25/09, was confirmed by the Senate 7/24/09 and sworn in on 7/31/09. She’ll be out the door in early June 2011.
Baker said, “After seven years of public service, I sent a letter to President Obama this afternoon thanking him for the distinct honor of serving on the Federal Communications Commission and informing him of my intention to leave the Commission on June 3, 2011. I am privileged to have had the opportunity to serve the country at a time of critical transformation in the telecommunications industry. The continued deployment of our broadband infrastructures will meaningfully impact the lives of all Americans. I am happy to have played a small part in this success. I depart most proud of our collective efforts to focus on long-term comprehensive spectrum reform. It is the most important step we can take to ensure our nation’s competitiveness in an increasingly interconnected world. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to serve with such wonderful colleagues on the Commission. I thank them all for their commitment, resolve, and friendship. I also am deeply indebted to my personal staff for their expertise, dedication, and good humor.”
NAB’s Gordon Smith congratulated her, saying, “With a winning combination of integrity, intellect and experience, Meredith Baker will be a key player for NBCUniversal, and I know that her in-depth knowledge of broadcast issues, deep understanding of the D.C. landscape and strong leadership abilities will make her an important resource for the entire broadcast industry.”
Fellow Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell was the first of her colleagues to weigh in. He said, “I wish my friend and colleague, Meredith Attwell Baker, the best on starting a new chapter in her life as she announces that she will be leaving the Commission. It is a rare honor to be able to serve in a position such as a commissioner of the FCC. It is an unheard of honor, however, to be able to serve with someone whose friendship spans the better part of two decades. I know Meredith will bring the same intellect, diligence and grace to her future endeavors that she brought to the FCC. She will be missed here.”
Baker’s name became familiar to television broadcasters at her prior post, when she was held the job of Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and Acting Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (a job title as they are written only in official Washington DC). She was responsible for running the coupon program that subsidized the acquisition of digital-to-analog set-top converter boxes for over-the-air viewers during television’s recent transition to digital broadcast.
The Commissioner with the longest current tenure, Democrat Michael Copps, is also believed to be on the way out – in fact, his term has already expired, but he is still able to serve for the duration of the 112th Congress.