Obama Names Former Tech Exec to Head FCC

Obama picks Genachowski to head FCC
Julius Genachowski
Source: Launchbox Digital

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has selected Julius Genachowski, a technology executive and former classmate from Harvard Law School, to lead the Federal Communications Commission, a Democratic source said on Monday.

Genachowski served as chief counsel for former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, the chairman under former President Bill Clinton, and held various positions at IAC/InterActiveCorp, as well as other technology posts.

Genachowski, who has been advising Obama, had been considered the front-runner for the job.

The FCC oversees U.S. telecommunications regulation and policy. Its reach includes regulation of telephone and cable companies; oversight of concentration of ownership of radio, television outlets, and auctioning public airwaves.

The FCC’s biggest immediate challenge is ensuring a congressionally mandated conversion to digital television on Feb. 17 goes smoothly, a switch affecting some 20 million consumers who don’t already use the technology.

Owners of older television sets receiving over-the-air signals must buy a converter box, replace their TV with a digital TV, or subscribe to satellite or digital cable service.

Another major task for the FCC is to promote investment in telecommunications, said Hundt, also an adviser to Obama.

Obama has called for broadband technology to be included in a roughly $800 billion economic stimulus package Congress is preparing.

“The question is, how do we get this investment going and what does it look like; what is the market structure that encourages it?” Hundt said.

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