Even before he became the FCC’s chairman in 2001, Michael Powell has been the commission’s chief advocate for rule changes that would allow greater media consolidation. Now, after getting his way in the FCC by a single vote margin, it’s clear that Powell—an antitrust lawyer by training—miscalculated the widespread public opposition to the new rules.
Could it all be too much for the son of Secretary of State Colin Powell? Time Magazine reported last week that Powell has told confidants that he wants to leave the FCC by this fall. The news magazine said three of Powell’s four top FCC staffers are already out job hunting.
Powell denied Time Magazine's story. After last week’s House repudiation of his policy, the FCC chairman issued a statement from an undisclosed vacation retreat. “We are confident in our decision,” Powell noted. “We created enforceable rules that reflect the realities of today’s media marketplace.”
Since Powell serves in his FCC position at the pleasure of the President, his job seems safe as long as he wants it and carries out the wishes of the chief executive. But his future ability to lead a deeply divided FCC membership remains in question.
Time Magazine predicted Powell’s most likely replacements would be either Rebecca Klein, head of the Texas public utility commissioner and former staff member for Bush while governor, or FCC commissioner Kevin Martin, who helped Gov. Bush count votes in Florida in the 2000 election.