Whoever winds up becoming the next chair of the FCC will have to go through the Senate Commerce Committee to get there, and at least one prominent candidate may find a formidable speed bump sitting in that panel’s chair.
The candidate is venture capitalist Tom Wheeler, who has a lengthy communications resume and was also an early supporter of the 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama, two ingredients that could add up to a nomination.
The speed bump is Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), the chair of the Commerce Committee.
Rockefeller is aware and wary of some of the items on the Wheeler resume – specifically, his leadership positions with industry organizations NTCA and CTIA.
According to Hillicon Valley, in a brief conversation with reporters, Rockefeller said, “”A lobbyist is a lobbyist. He’s been lobbying for some of the things he’d be making decisions on.”
He refused to comment on whether or not he thought Wheeler would be a good choice for the FCC chair.
It is known, however, that Rockefeller has a candidate in mind, and it isn’t Wheeler. He is one of a number of senators who wrote a letter to Obama in support of current Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel for the nomination. Rosenworcel is a former colleague of Rockefeller’s.
RBR-TVBR observation: Broadcasters often find themselves in conflict with other industry organizations in the many-faceted communications universe. Two of the organizations that are most frequently involved in this BTB arm-wrestling are precisely the two organizations that Wheeler has headed. So on face of it, all other things being equal, if Wheeler’s possible candidacy falls by the wayside, it probably will not be that bad of a development for most readers of this space.