- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 14, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama’s reported choice of former Harvard Law classmate Julius Genachowski to head the Federal Communications Commission would bring the experience of both a Washington insider and a technology executive to the media-regulating agency, whose current chairman has had a strained relationship with Capitol Hill Democrats.

Mr. Genachowski served as chief counsel to former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt from 1994 to 1997 and later spent eight years at corporate giant IAC/InterActive Corp., where he held positions including general counsel and head of business operations. Now a Washington-area venture capitalist, Mr. Genachowski has been advising the Obama transition team on technology policy.

Neither Mr. Genachowski nor the transition team responded to requests Tuesday for comment on media reports of his nomination.

But Democratic sources said he is the president-elect’s choice to head the FCC, whose jurisdiction spans communication issues such as broadcast indecency, broadband policy and the upcoming switch to digital television.

Mr. Genachowski’s former boss said his private-sector experience would make him a “quite distinctive” FCC chairman.

“If he is appointed, he would be the first nominee ever who has already been a venture capitalist and a tech executive,” Mr. Hundt said.

Before serving at the FCC, Mr. Genachowski was a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justices David H. Souter and William Brennan from 1991 to 1994. He founded Rock Creek Ventures, investment firm LaunchBox Digital and Thummit, a technology startup.

Mr. Genachowski led the group that created the Obama campaign’s technology plan, which endorsed the principle of so-called “network neutrality” along with increased broadband deployment across the country.

Advocacy groups were quick to applaud his reported selection while taking jabs at current FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin, a Republican who has pursued an agenda of deregulation.

“Under Julius Genachowski’s leadership, the FCC’s compass would point toward the public interest,” said Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press.

Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, said Mr. Genachowski would “restore public confidence” and “help rebuild morale at the agency.”

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