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Former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Joins The Carlyle Group

By | Monday January 6, 2014 @ 8:09am PST

The revolving door continues to swing: Former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will help the asset management firm invest in global technology, media, and telecom companies, The Carlyle Group announced today. Julius GenachowskiThe firm, founded in 1987, has invested more than $18B in tech, media and telecom companies including Nielsen, AMC Entertainment, and Insight Communications. Genachowski will help it to “generate premium returns for our investors,” says Allan Holt, Co-Head of the U.S. Buyout team. Genachowski, who ended his four-year FCC tenure in May, says that he’s “grateful to have been part of developments around tech, media and telecom for many years, working with some of the best in the business, and I’m looking forward to joining my new and superbly talented Carlyle colleagues to help find and build businesses.” Carlyle is a favorite landing spot for the well-connected in Washington. Former FCC Chairman William Kennard worked there after he left the agency in 2001. Others who teamed with the company for a time included former President George H.W. Bush, former Secretary of State James Baker, and former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt. Filmmaker Michael Moore questioned Carlyle’s ties to the Bin Laden family in his film Fahrenheit 911.

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Mignon Clyburn Takes Charge At FCC

The FCC Commissioner became Acting Chair — and the first women to run the regulatory agency — on Saturday taking the job just vacated by Julius Genachowski until the Senate (presumably) confirms President Obama’s choice to replace him, Tom Wheeler. “I see myself as a member of a relay team, running one of the middle legs,” Clyburn told FCC staffers today. “My job is to build on forward momentum, give the next teammate a running start, an improved position, and no matter what, my goal is not to drop the baton.” It could take months before she can pass that baton to Wheeler. The Senate likely will confirm him in tandem with a Republican to replace former Commissioner Robert McDowell who left the FCC on Friday. Presidents typically appoint someone recommended by the opposition leadership when there’s an FCC opening for the out party. But the Senate GOP has yet to make its pick. Leaders are seriously considering Duke University’s Michelle Connolly — a former FCC chief economist — Politico reports. Others being looked at include former Scripps Networks Chief Legal Officer A.B. Cruz, and Hill staff veterans Ray Baum and Neil Fried. Last week the U.S. Office of Government ethics disclosed that Wheeler — a former lobbyist who’s now an investor with Core Capital partners — said that if confirmed he would divest holdings in 78 companies including AMC Networks, Apple, Cablevision, CBS, Comcast, DirecTV, Dish … Read More »

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Tom Wheeler Will Be Nominated For FCC Chairman: WSJ

By | Tuesday April 30, 2013 @ 12:14pm PDT

The effort to stop President Obama from tapping his long-time ally appears to have failed: He’s preparing to nominate Core Capital Partners Managing Director Tom Wheeler to replace Julius Genachowski as FCC chairman, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing “two people familiar with the matter.” Four years ago Wheeler ran Obama’s transition effort for science, technology, space and arts agencies. He also lobbied for the cable industry from 1979-1984 when he was president of the National Cable Television Association, and then represented wireless phone companies as CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA). Wheeler’s status as an early favorite for the FCC job seemed to fade this month when Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller launched an effort to elevate Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel — formerly the committee’s Senior Communications Counsel. Rockefeller and 36 other senators told Obama in a letter last month that Rosenworcel “understands and respects the relationship between the FCC and Congress.” Rockefeller also has been critical of Wheeler’s background. “A lobbyist is a lobbyist,” the senator told reporters. But an odd-bedfellows coalition of public interest advocates and business people rallied behind Wheeler. Public Knowledge CEO Gigi Sohn says that he “will not allow the FCC to become irrelevant as broadband becomes the dominant mode of communication in this country.” Another activist group, Free Press, is less confident. Wheeler does not appear to be willing to use the … Read More »

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Advocates Press President Obama On Rival Candidates For FCC Chairman

By | Friday April 12, 2013 @ 8:44am PDT

The unusual, high-level campaigning to sway President Obama’s choice for a new FCC chairman just intensified with the release of a letter from an odd-bedfellow collection of advocates in support of Core Capital Partners Managing Director Tom Wheeler. “We know Tom well,” says the letter signed by 11 policy specialists including Susan Crawford, a former Obama policy adviser who recently wrote a book highly critical of Comcast, and Decker Anstrom, a former member of the Comcast board. “We have seen up close his strength of will. He will have an open mind and an intelligent take on the challenges that will confront the new Chairman.” The letter would have seemed like overkill a few weeks ago: Wheeler — who ran Obama’s transition effort for science, technology, space and arts agencies –seemed to have the inside track for the job as Julius Genachowski prepares to move on. But Wheeler’s prospects seemed to fade a few weeks ago when Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller launched an effort to elevate Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel — formerly the committee’s Senior Communications Counsel. Rockefeller and 36 other senators told Obama in a letter last month that Rosenworcel “understands and respects the relationship between the FCC and Congress.” Rockefeller also has been critical of Wheeler’s background running the National Cable Television Association and the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA). “A lobbyist is a lobbyist,” the senator told reporters this week. Many believe that it’s time for the … Read More »

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FCC Chief Julius Genachowski Resignation Prompts Succession Speculation

By | Friday March 22, 2013 @ 7:38am PDT

Julius Genachowski just officially confirmed reports that he will leave “in the coming weeks.” That has those who follow FCC matters wondering who President Obama will name as a successor — and whether that person will share Genachowski’s belief that the Internet should be cultivated as the nation’s chief communications medium. The smart money is betting on Tom Wheeler, who’s Managing Director of Core Capital Partners and is close to the president. Four years ago he ran Obama’s transition effort for science, technology, space and arts agencies. Wheeler lobbied for the cable industry from 1979 to 1984 when he was president of the National Cable Television Association, and then represented wireless phone companies as CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA). Close behind in the speculation is Larry Strickling, who’s Administrator of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and helped to manage the Recovery Act’s broadband grants. Another possibility: Karen Kornbluh, who’s Ambassador to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Read More »

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FCC Chairman To Step Down: WSJ

By | Thursday March 21, 2013 @ 5:17pm PDT

Robert McDowell announced yesterday that he would be leaving the five-member commission and now it appears the other shoe is about to drop. Republican McDowell’s announcement was widely believed to be a precursor to an announcement that Chairman Julius Genachowski also would be stepping down and now The Wall St. Journal, citing an FCC and industry official, reports that Genachowski is set to announce tomorrow that he is exiting as well. Genachowski’s office declined to comment. Genachowski’s departure would still leave the Democrats retaining the majority with two seats (Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel). Genachowski was appointed to the commission in 2009 by President Barack Obama. Both replacements require Senate confirmation.

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FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell Says He’ll Leave

By | Wednesday March 20, 2013 @ 1:41pm PDT

FCCThe GOP commissioner made the announcement at today’s open meeting, but didn’t say what he’ll do after he departs. The development is consistent with the widespread belief that his departure, after seven years on the commission, is a precursor to an announcement that Chairman Julius Genachowski also will move on. Once McDowell is out, the thinking goes, Genachowski’s departure would still leave the Democrats retaining the majority with two seats (Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel) vs. one (Ajit Pai). McDowell often opposed Genachowski’s initiatives including ones to establish net neutrality regulations, and favored moves to relax ownership rules on broadcasters. Yet Genachowski today lauded McDowell as “essential to major FCC achievements like the landmark reform of universal service and intercarrier compensation, and many steps to unleash spectrum.” National Association of Broadcasters CEO Gordon Smith praised “his ardent support for fair media ownership rules and full-throated support for a vibrant First Amendment.” But activist group Free Press, which often was at odds with McDowell’s views, urged him to “reject the revolving door” and asked President Obama to nominate a Republican “who is not simply another cheerleader for the biggest businesses and media monopolists.”

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Consumer Advocate Calls Tribune Hiring Of Former FCC Official “Nauseating”

By | Tuesday January 29, 2013 @ 3:18pm PST

TribuneFree Press CEO Craig Aaron is ringing alarm bells today after the broadcast and newspaper power — which just emerged from bankruptcy — hired a new general counsel: Edward Lazarus, who was FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s chief of staff, overseeing policy development and implementation, strategic planning, and agency management. “He may be just the latest to take a spin through the revolving door, but that doesn’t make his move any less nauseating,” Aaron says. Public interest advocates are souring on the FCC chief as he leads efforts to relax media ownership rules — including one that Tribune wants that would make it easier for a company to own a TV station and major newspaper in the same community. A proposal Genachowski circulated would put the burden on the FCC to show why it should block a cross-ownership arrangement in the 20 largest markets. That appears to be tailor-made for Rupert Murdoch who has kicked the tires at The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune — two cities where Fox also owns TV stations. Tribune CEO Peter Liguori says that Lazarus “has an incredibly sharp mind, broad legal experience, and he played an important role at the FCC,” adding that he’s “the perfect fit as our general counsel.” Prior to working at the FCC, the Yale Law School grad clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, was a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, and chaired the national litigation steering committee for Akin Gump Strauss … Read More »

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FCC Chief Ramps Up Effort To Free Wireless Spectrum For Broadband: CES

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said that he’ll raise at the commission next month a proposal to “free up a substantial amount of spectrum for wifi to relieve wifi congestion and (increase) speeds.” He made the announcement at a friendly venue: the International CES confab in Las Vegas, where tech manufacturers are hungry for additional wireless spectrum for smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. “This is an exciting new initiative….This is really important,” Genachowski says. Although most details will be released later, the wireless bandwidth will come from unlicensed spectrum in the 5 Ghz band held by the Defense Department and other government agencies. “As in other areas, we’re convinced the spectrum can be shared,” he says. The wifi spectrum in that band will increase by 35%, he added. It’s the largest block of unlicensed spectrum opened for wifi since 2003. Read More »

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Will The FCC’s Chairman Give Rupert Murdoch A Holiday Gift In 2013?

By | Friday December 7, 2012 @ 12:27pm PST

The curious thing about Julius Genachowski‘s tenure as FCC chairman is that he’s been a virtuoso in dealing with broadband issues but tone deaf when it comes to traditional media. Case in point: Look at all the people he has infuriated with his attempt to make it easier for a company to own a TV station and major newspaper in the same city. (A proposal Genachowski circulated would put the burden on the FCC to show why it should block a cross-ownership arrangement in the 20 largest markets.) The effort is tailor-made for Rupert Murdoch. He’s kicking the tires at The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune — two cities where Fox also owns TV stations. That has foes of media consolidation seeing red. “We cannot live in a vibrant democracy unless people get divergent sources of information,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) said yesterday. “I intend to do everything I can to prevent this proposal from going forward.” That effort has momentum. This week Genachowski — under pressure from Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a potential swing vote on the five-member commission – said he’d accept more public comment on media ownership rules, pushing any decision into January at the earliest. Some of Genachowski’s most vigorous supporters tell me that they believe he blew it: If opponents effectively use the time to rally others to speak out against the plan, it’s probably toast. Read More »

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UPDATE: NAB Says FCC Enters “Uncharted Territory” With TV Spectrum Auction

By | Friday September 28, 2012 @ 11:30am PDT

UPDATE, 12:40 PM: NAB chief Gordon Smith warns that the FCC may be disappointed by the number of TV stations that will volunteer to give up their spectrum. “If there’s a stampede coming, we don’t hear any hooves,” he says. And the FCC probably won’t be interested in the rural stations that are most likely to be interested in a payout from an auction. The need for spectrum for wireless broadband “is an urban concern, not a rural concern. Oregon, where I’m from, will never run out of spectrum.” The NAB will cooperate with the FCC as it enters what Smith says is “uncharted territory.” But the trade group will try to ensure that stations aren’t coerced to participate in the auction. “That remains the focus of our concern.” Since the FCC action follows congressional legislation, the process likely will proceed no mater who wins the presidential election in November.

PREVIOUS, 11:30 AM: The plan has been a long time coming, and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says it’s “a big deal” — although it could result in a bruising fight with broadcasters. The commission today unanimously endorsed a notice of proposed rulemaking that would enable broadcasters to voluntarily give up some of the airwave spectrum that they currently use, and share in the Read More »

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FCC Says Pay TV Providers Can Just Offer Digital Feeds Of Broadcast Channels

By | Tuesday June 12, 2012 @ 8:00am PDT

The unanimous vote last night is a loss for broadcasters, adding to their fear that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is gunning for them. Regulators said that, beginning December 12, cable and satellite companies can offer a single, digital feed of programming from local broadcast stations — not a second one for those with an old analog TV set. Broadcasters wanted to renew the 2007 rule requiring a dual feed so people with analog sets wouldn’t need to buy or rent a digital set top box or converter. Proponents said that was especially important for independent stations as well as those offering programming for minorities or religious viewers. The loss of the analog feed, the National Association of Broadcasters and others said, would weaken the federal protection for diverse programming embodied in the “must carry” mandate for pay TV. But the FCC says a lot has changed over the last five years. When the rule was passed 46% of cable subscribers received providers’ analog service. By the end of this year that will be down to 16%. In addition, costs for digital boxes and converters have come down — and the FCC order requires pay TV companies to provide them to analog customers for an affordable price if not for free. Once they’re able to clear away the analog signals, they’ll have more capacity to offer HD channels or broadband services. The NAB says that it will review its options. … Read More »

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FCC Chief Touches On Political Ads, Retrans And Spectrum Plan: NAB

By | Monday April 16, 2012 @ 4:26pm PDT

NAB Show FCC Julius GenachowskiUPDATED: FCC chairman Julius Genachowski waded into political season during his keynote today at the NAB Show, the annual content confab that hit full speed today with speeches from key broadcast players. Genachowski said that opposition to a proposal that would require stations to post online how much candidates spend on ads is “against technology, against transparency and against journalism.” The FCC will vote on the matter April 27. Such information has long been available to any citizen who takes the time to go down to a station and look through records in person. However, many NAB members worry that putting the hard numbers online could risk giving away individual station ad rates to local and regional rivals, especially in the highly competitive local news market. In his speech today, the FCC chief estimated that total political ad spending could be as high as $3B this election year. Read More »

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FCC Commish: Did Comcast Buy Airwave Spectrum Under “False Pretenses”?

By | Wednesday January 11, 2012 @ 5:02pm PST

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell fired an unexpected shot at Comcast today as the regulatory agency invited the public to comment on a recent deal by the company and other operators to sell airwave spectrum they control to Verizon. Noting that Comcast’s CFO recently told analysts that the cable company never planned to built a business for the airwaves, McDowell asked: “Were they purchased under false pretences?” Federal law bars companies from warehousing spectrum. The deal with Verizon must be approved by the FCC and Justice Department before it can close. ”Let’s be careful,” McDowell said at the 2012 International CES. “We want to be sure consumers have a disruptive and constructive marketplace….The commission has not done a good job of that in the past.” Another FCC Commissioner, Mignon Clyburn said that “we look at it on a case by case basis. …We’re not in isolation.” Read More »

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FCC Moves To Block AT&T Deal With T-Mobile Forecasting “Massive” Job Loss

UPDATED: The merger of the wireless companies was already on the ropes after August when the Justice Department said it would challenge the deal in court on antitrust grounds. Now FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is circulating a draft order that would add an important additional barrier to the deal: It would ask an administrative law judge to consider whether the combo would serve the public interest — after the end of the Justice trial, due to begin in February. That would significantly delay and complicate the AT&T and T-Mobile’s merger plans. The last time the FCC did this — in 2002 when Echostar wanted to merge with DirecTV — the companies scrapped their plan.

Genachowski’s proposal follows a conclusion by FCC staff that consumers would be harmed if AT&T and T-Mobile merge. “The record clearly shows that — in no uncertain terms — this merger would result in a massive loss of U.S. jobs and investment” as AT&T cuts costs to make the economics of the deal work, a senior FCC official says. The agency found that there’d be less competition in 99 of the 100 biggest markets. (The exception is Omaha.) Staffers also concluded that the deal would not improve deployment of 4G services. If the FCC decides not to approve a merger like this, then it has to send the case to an administrative law judge for a court-like hearing that would look at whether the deal would serve the public … Read More »

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FCC Chief Wants To Ease TV Station Cross Ownership With Radio And Newspapers

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is prepared to junk federal rules that limit companies from owning TV and radio stations in the same market — and go half way in doing the same for TV stations and newspapers. He’s circulating a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would wipe out the TV-newspaper restriction in the 20 largest markets, trade magazine Broadcasting and Cable reports citing “a person familiar with the document.” But it would keep a test that could block a combo in smaller markets if it would result in  less local news, less diversity of voices, or too much concentration of economic power. Genachowski’s proposal sounds a lot like the standard that former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, pushed through in 2008. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overturned those rules this past July, saying that Martin hadn’t given the public enough time to weigh in on them. Public interest advocates who want to preserve cross-ownership restrictions applauded the court decision. Newspaper and broadcast owners say that mergers are needed to preserve local newsrooms as their companies compete against a massive number of national news competitors on cable TV and the Internet. As part of the rulemaking process, the FCC will ask whether stations skirt the ownership limits Read More »

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FCC Scraps Fairness Doctrine Among Other Rules

By | Monday August 22, 2011 @ 12:09pm PDT

The FCC is moving to remove its long-abandoned political-speech rule the Fairness Doctrine as part of a purge of 83 outdated regulations, the agency said Monday. The doctrine, which was installed in 1949 and required broadcasters to give equal time to differing political views, was tossed by the FCC in 1987 during the Reagan administration as the growth of media outlets ensured that all sides of the political debate were represented — still, it remained on the books. The removal is part of a greater purge at the FCC under chairman Julius Genachowski that has seen more than 130 outdated rules removed from the Code of Federal Regulations, but the Fairness Doctrine has been a particular lightning rod, with Republicans wary that Democrats might revive the rule in an attempt to stem the rise of conservative talk radio. But in a letter announcing the removal of the rule, Genachowski said “striking this from our books ensures there can be no mistake that what has long been a dead letter remains dead. The Fairness Doctrine holds the potential to chill free speech and the free flow of ideas and was properly abandoned over two decades ago.”

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