Blog archive

Wheeler confirmed as FCC chairman

Stylized radio tower

Thomas Wheeler, a former head of two telecommunications trade associations and an early supporter of Barack Obama's presidential campaign, was confirmed as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission by the Senate on Oct. 29.

Wheeler's nomination had been on hold because Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) expressed concerns that Wheeler was interested in imposing tougher disclosure requirements on political advertising. Currently, the FCC maintains an online collection of political advertising purchases as part of the public files of licensed broadcast stations. Cruz was concerned that the FCC might flex its muscles to get more information abut donors to nonprofits that buy ads on behalf of candidates and causes.

Cruz relented after Wheeler assured him that expanding the FCC's role in campaign finance was not a priority.

Joining Wheeler at the FCC will be Michael O'Rielly, a former staffer for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who will take up one of two Republican seats on the commission. Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn will return to her role as a commissioner.

"Tom Wheeler will be a strong advocate for consumers and the public interest at a time when the FCC is facing decisions that will shape the future of our nation's telephone network and the wireless, broadband, and video industries," said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).

Rockefeller and many other Senate Democrats had pushed for the elevation of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to the top slot. Wheeler's past as head of trade associations in the mobile phone and cable industries was a concern to some Senate liberals, who worried that he might be too beholden to industry.

One of the big priorities for Wheeler is a reclamation and reverse auction of spectrum, a program that allows TV broadcasters to relinquish their spectrum licenses so providers of wireless broadband may bid on it. The technology required to support the closely watched auction is among the more novel and complex IT challenges facing government.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Oct 30, 2013 at 8:20 AM

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group