Obama picks industry insider to run FCC

If you thought President Obama was going to pick a consumer advocate or a community radio proponent to run the FCC, think again.

Here is how Rueters and AP describe Tom Wheeler:

“Wheeler has served as an informal adviser to Obama in recent years and has been a big fundraiser for his political campaigns. He went into the venture investing business after years at the helm of the National Cable Television Association and then the wireless industry group CTIA.”

The 5 member board is required to have only 3 members of the current president’s party. It currently has 2 Democrat women and the Republican from Indian heritage and religion.

The US Senate has a habit of holding up FCC nominations either if the President doesn’t appoint a Republican at the same time or some Senator has an unrelated beef with President.

In the interim, the FCC will be chaired by the woman from South Carolina who was chosen for the position because of her experience running a weekly newspaper targeted at blacks to make sure they voted for Democrats.

Here is the page describing him at his current private equity firm

And a list of some of his positions


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8 Responses to Obama picks industry insider to run FCC

  1. Nidster says:

    Does the current regime want to make FCC License Renewals tougher for stations who carry Conservative talk shows?

    • Art Stone says:

      The FCC has a long bipartisan understanding based on the 1934 law that the FCC pays no attention to the programming content on radio, other than obscenity, payola, fraud, putting phone calls on the air when the person doesn’t know they’re on the radio, not intentionally causing a panic, etc. – and the very vague requirement that your programming is operating in the “public interest”

      This is very different from the CRTC in Canada – which not only decided what the right format is for each station, but also requires most of the music to be Canadian musicians or authors. A large swath of stations are still run be the CBC. I gave up trying to list CBC stations and there was no interest in all in them.

      The staff of the FCC know the law and the boundaries of their power. They push back if the commission tells them to do something there is no legal basis for. Since they aren’t an executive branch department, they only have the powers Congress wrote into the US Code. If they try to exceed them, they lose in court.

      A couple times a year, the FCC gets into a jurisdictional mess. The most powerful person in our legal system is a bankruptcy court judge. Once in a while, the bankruptcy judge who doesn’t know communication law will “order” the FCC to transfer a license to a creditor without the FCC being able to make sure they are allowed to own a license (like if the creditor is a European bank). What is supposed to happen is the license transferred to a receiver who knows how to operate the station (like checking tower lights and keeping EAS equipment functioning) and then the receiver works with the bank to find a buyer

      • CC1s121LrBGT says:

        I believe there is little difference among CBC stations schedule-wise for stations on the same radio network and in the same time zone. There is local news and weather – much like NPR stations in the US, but I think they all take the same audio feed.

        There are several different CBC radio networks, classical, rock, news, etc.

        My understanding of the CRTC content rules is that there is a requirement for a specific amount of Canadian content, but I did not understand it to be more than half.. at least for pop songs… ditto for classical music composers. 😉

        There are a few large commercial operators, Rogers (the same as the cell phone company) comes to mind. There used to be a company called Global as well, not sure if they are still around.

        I don’t listen much because the temperatures are in C. 😉

  2. Nidster says:

    Shucks, another conspiracy theory bites the dust. Thanks!

    • Art Stone says:

      In October, the FCC opens the Low Power FM can of worms – after stalling for 10 years, some 2000 community groups and religious broadcasters are expected to get LPFM licenses. How that works out will give hints of the future direction of the FCC

      In somewhat related news, WBAI-AM – the extremely far left station in New York City run by Pacifica is reported to have failed to meet payroll. That’s a big No-No with the US Labor department.

      If Conservative talk fails, it will be because it can’t make money.

      • CC1s121LrBGT says:

        I think WBAI is FM only. I can’t listen. Almost all of their day is radical left wing talk. By radical, I mean that that former Air America is a fringe right wing in comparison… and I am not kidding.

        When I lived in Florida and Texas, I actually listened to Pacifica stations- I would say that half of their broadcast day was music and no politics, the other half politics and no music. I actually donated to those stations because I enjoyed the musical programming.

        WBAI seems to have little music and so I don’t listen and I certainly don’t donate.

        • Art Stone says:

          My bad. I never listened to it “over the air”

          Part of the issue is apparently the “mother ship” in Oakland wants a cut of the action from New York. When they didn’t pay, the Pacifica Foundation kicked WBAI off their board of directors

          The final straw was WBAI is located right on Wall Street and were flooded out by “Superstorm” Sandy

          Pacifica was started by Quaker anti war activists who opposed US involvement in World War II – that took a lot of courage. (Lewis Hill has an interesting bio I just read – his uncle was Frank Phillips of the oil company of the same name)

          Somewhere along the line Quaker pacifist morphed into pro-Communist Chez Guevera red t-shirt wearing America haters. Al Lewis (of the munsters) was an old school socialist labor organizer and had a show on WBAI until his death a few years ago. Pacifica’s main syndicated product is Democracy Now, the daily screed from Amy Goodman. In addition to its stations, it is carried on a smattering of college stations and stations operated by various Indian Tribes who are attracted to the idea of hating the United States.

          Let’s see what her take on Syria is…

          Matter of fact report from the Washington Post. No skepticism, no challenge. On to the news in Mali

          Happy International Workers Day, by the way

          • CC1s121LrBGT says:

            Amy Goodman is actually interesting. Smart and informed. Not that I agree with her very often, but she can present her ideas logically and intelligently. Many of the others can not.

            Al Lewis was indeed more radical than Amy Goodman. I had listened to his show from time to time because he played music… and who could switch of Grandpa’s distinctive voice. He was up on the latest hip hop and got artists onto the show because everyone likes Grandpa Munster…. but I recall his politics as being way left of Amy Goodman. 😉

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