FCC's Next Member Brings CE Awareness
Meredith Attwell Baker, the presumptive fifth member of the Federal Communications Commission, will bring almost unprecedented connections to the consumer electronics industry. If, as expected, President Obama appoints Baker to a Republican seat on the FCC, Baker will bring her experience in handling the digital TV transition during the past two years when she served as Acting Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the Commerce Department. In that role, she dealt extensively with consumer electronics makers and lobbyists in crafting the DTV transition policy, including deployment of the $40 coupon program.
Earlier in her career, Baker was a lobbyist for the mobile telephone lobbying group now known as CTIA.
Atwell’s expected nomination will fill out the five-person FCC, which has been functioning with only three members since January. The Senate Commerce Committee is expected to proceed with confirmation hearings this month for Julius Genachowski, who has been nominated as Chairman, and Mignon Clyburn, a South Carolina telecommunications regulator. Both are Democrats. President Obama last week reappointed Robert McDowell, a commissioner since 2007, for another five-year term. McDowell and Atwell would hold the two Republican seats on the FCC. Michael Copps, who has been acting chairman since January, will continue to hold a Democratic seat. Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, another Democrat, will leave to become Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service, which among other things, overseas distribution of $3 billion in stimulus grants.