Wheeler Plays it Cool on Future Plans


Communicators-Tom-WheelerFCC Chairman Tom Wheeler still isn’t publicly committing one way or another on the question of whether he would step down at the end of President Obama’s term.

Traditionally, the head of an independent federal agency steps down when a member of the opposite party is elected or when asked to under a new president.

We reported the issue came up in March when Senate Commerce Committee Chairman South Dakota Republican John Thune hinted that a commitment from Wheeler could loosen the hold a number of GOP lawmakers have on the re-nomination of Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel to the commission.

At that hearing, Wheeler said it was too soon to make a commitment either way.

He still feels that way. Asked several times about the issue during a taping of C-SPAN’s “The Communicators,” on Friday, Wheeler said: “We’re 10 months away from a new inauguration. Okay. We’ll deal with things as we get closer to that,” reports The Hill, citing issues the commission is working on like the spectrum auction and set-top box proposal.

RBR+TVBR observation: The issue is of interest to station owners because business likes regulatory certainty. Whoever chairs the agency controls the voting agenda, which in turn, governs whether issues get front-burner attention or are relegated to less attention.