Genachowski Expected to Head FCC

The word in Washington is that Julius Genachowski will be named FCC chairman. The 46-year-old is a former law school chum of the President-elect and a member of his transition team. Genachowski also served as media advisor for Reed Hundt, chairman of the FCC from 1993-97. Hundt gives Genachowski props in his 1997 book, “So You Say You Want a Revolution.”

“During the summer of 1994, my broadcast team, including a brilliant former Supreme Court law clerk, Julius Genchowski, assembled our network-friendly broadcast policy. In an effort to find compromise between the networks and the public interest advocates, the team proposed to require three hours of educational television per week.”

Genachowski clerked for Justices Souter and Brennan, and for D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Abner Mikva. He also worked for Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the Iran-Contra joint committee.

Aside from helping craft the current public interest obligations for broadcasters, little is known about Genachowski’s view of the industry. He is expected to push the establishment public interest rules for digital TV, which have not been set, and to oppose the relaxation of media ownership limits.

Genachowski will likely push broadband initiatives, having worked in Barry Diller’s InterActive Corp for eight years. He’s not expected to be the bane to the cable industry that is current Chairman Kevin Martin, who’s called for a la carte pricing over the last two years.

Genachowski’s regulatory orientation will likely be influenced by his entrepreneurial experience. He’s a co-founder of Rock Creek, a venture capital firm, and founding partner of LaunchBox Digital, a Washington, D.C. incubator for online startups.

Political veterans on Capitol Hill describe Genachowski as “highly qualified” and “smart.” One former colleague said, “Extremely intelligent, fair and generous with his time.”

Once appointed, Genachowski will have to be confirmed by the Senate, which could take several weeks. President-elect Obama is expected to name one of the two democratic FCC commissioners--Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps--interim chairman some time next week.