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Genachowski Confirmed as FCC Chief

WASHINGTON: Julius Genachowski was approved by the full Senate on Thursday to become chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Republican Robert McDowell was also confirmed for a second term as commissioner. With the anticipated confirmations of two more nominees, the commission will finally have a full complement of five people. President Obama announced his intention to nominate Meredith Attwell Baker as the second Republican to serve on the commission. The third Democrat, Mignon Clyburn was previously nominated. No confirmation hearings have been scheduled for either woman.

Genachowski may take his seat at the head of the commission as early as Monday, according to B&C. He’ll take the reins from Michael Copps, who’s been serving as acting chairman since Kevin Martin’s exit earlier this year, and who oversaw the digital television transition. Copps will resume his duties as a commissioner, a position he’s held since 2001, making him the veteran on the five-member regulatory body. Copps has spent much of his tenure in the minority beside fellow Democrat Jonathan Adelstein, who will leave the commission upon Genachowski’s swearing in to become head of the rural utilities program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

TV Technology notes that “the new chairman is expected to focus heavily on broadband but he also expounded on several issues of importance to broadcasters in a hearing in front of the Senate Commerce Committee last week. He told the panel that he opposed reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine--which requires broadcasters to give equal time to opposing sides--because he believes it violates the free speech clause in the First Amendment. He also expressed his concerns over broadcast indecency, saying that ‘the FCC’s job in this area is to enforce the law. Congress has been clear on the indecency law.’”