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Copps Takes the Reins

Michael Copps, a tough critic of the FCC’s shortcomings in the DTV transition, has been appointed Interim Chairman by President Obama.

He’ll set the FCC agenda until the expected nomination and confirmation of Julius Genachowski as Chairman—with the DTV transition still scheduled for Feb. 17.

Copps has consistently prodded the commission to provide more leadership and focus on the DTV transition. He was the key major early proponent of the early analog shutoff in Wilmington, N.C., citing the market-by-market approach England has taken with its transition.

More recently, he criticized the commission’s late moves to give broadcasters more flexibility with Distributed Transmission Systems and an expanded program for DTV translators.

Jan. 16, Copps and fellow Democratic Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein updated their criticisms of the FCC’s handling of the transition in a letter to key lawmakers, in which they advised—with caveats—a delay to the Feb. 17 transition date.

It's unclear whether Genachowski will reach the commission before Feb. 17. The chairman nearly always calls one commission meeting in every calendar month and can take actions without a meeting as well. With the Jan. 20 resignation of Martin, the Democrats now have a temporary 2-1 majority on the panel.