The Federal Communications Commission is back up to its full five-member roster for the first time since December and appears ready to plunge into an intense slate of issues, several affecting the CE industry. The three newly appointed members will have more than a month to prepare for grilling by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which plans an oversight hearing of FCC activities after Congress's August recess. Separately, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) repeated his complaint that "the FCC is broken" during confirmation hearings this month for the two newest FCC appointees, and he threatens to continue examining how the Commission distances itself from the industries it regulates. The two new Commissioners - Democrat Mignon Clyburn and Republican Meredith Attwell Baker - are being sworn in this week after unanimous confirmation by the Senate late last week. Clyburn, daughter of House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, has served as a South Carolina public utilities regulator since 1998. Baker, daughter-in-law of renowned Republican operative and former Secretary of State James Baker, headed the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration during the Bush administration and oversaw, among other things, the ramp-up to the DTV transition.
The two women join the new FCC Chairman Democrat Julius Genachowski, who was sworn in last month, and Democrat Michael Copps and Republican Robert McDowell on the Commission.
In addition to tending to final details of the DTV transition, the FCC is tackling the national broadband stimulus program and a slew of wireless and mobile media policy issues. Its decisions on spectrum allocation will also affect the development of new wireless devices.