Feature Article

November 10, 2008

Rumor: Two African-American Women Head Obama's FCC Chairman Short List

Consider the critical role that the Federal Communications Commission plays in the telecom space.
 
In the last month alone, the FCC has approved new uses of broadcast spectrum, weighed fines for cable provider giants and considered restructuring the way that carriers contribute to a fund for universal service.
 
As TMC President Rich Tehrani says in a video interview here, the federal government may be looking at technology in an entirely new way following the election last week of Barack Obama as the nation’s 44th president. Obama used technology in ways that politicians never have, Tehrani said, to mobilize his campaign through innovative integration of communications and marketing.
 
Now, as Obama sets about appointing his cabinet and some of the nation’s top oversight posts – including the new role of chief technical officer, as MobilityTechzone reports today – rumors are swirling about whom the president-elect will choose as the new FCC chairman.
 
According to BusinessWeek.com reporter Olga Kharif, an Obama appointee-led FCC likely will give more power to Internet companies such as Google, rather than telecom companies, such as the cable giants, and two African-American women are among the front-runners for the agency’s critical chairman post.
 
One of them, Kharif writes, is Julia Johnson (pictured right) a Florida consultant who serves as chairman of the Video Access Alliance, an advocacy and advisory group for emerging, independent and minority networks and Internet content providers.
 
Another possibility is Mignon Clyburn, according to Kharif – a woman who has been a commissioner for the Public Service Commission of South Carolina since 1998 and who has a background in journalism. Clyburn also is a daughter of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a Democrat.
 
Kharif writes that other contenders include: Blair Levin, who oversaw implementation of the landmark 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act; Scott Blake Harris, who served as the first chief of the FCC’s International Bureau, from 1994 to 1996, and was responsible for international and satellite communications policy and licensing; and Don Gips, who succeeded Harris as chief of the FCC’s international bureau and spearheaded the drive to cut the prices of international calls
 
“Some within the telecom industry expect Obama to appoint one of the FCC’s current Democratic commissioners, most likely Michael Copps, to be an interim chairman until a candidate for the permanent job is selected, most likely in January,” Kharif writes. “While Copps could stay on as the permanent FCC chairman, several Washington insiders view this as unlikely.”
 

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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for MobilityTechzone, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan


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