Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

F.C.C. Chief Appoints a Critic of the Agency

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

F.C.C. Chief Appoints a Critic of the Agency

Article excerpt

Gigi B. Sohn, an outspoken critic of the Federal Communications Commission but a supporter of the new leader, Tom Wheeler, was hired after he was sworn in as chairman of the agency on Monday.

Tom Wheeler has been sworn in as chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission and has promptly named to his senior staff Gigi B. Sohn, one of the agency's most outspoken critics but a supporter of the new leader.

Mr. Wheeler, 67, a venture capital investor and former Obama campaign fund-raiser, named Ms. Sohn on Monday as special counsel for external affairs. Although several public-interest groups warned that Mr. Wheeler's past as a telecommunications industry lobbyist might cause him to favor those companies as F.C.C. chairman, Ms. Sohn, as president of Public Knowledge, the F.C.C. watchdog group, said at the time of his nomination that she believed he would be independent.

On Monday, some public-interest groups that have criticized Mr. Wheeler expressed optimism about Ms. Sohn's appointment. "We hope her appointment signals a willingness in the Wheeler administration to engage more directly with the public interest community," said Craig Aaron, the president of Free Press, a nonpartisan advocacy group. "We have high expectations of her and the new chairman."

Ms. Sohn said at the time of Mr. Wheeler's nomination that telecommunications "was a very different industry" when he was a lobbyist. But, she added, "he understands how the regulatory process can be hijacked by incumbents to thwart competition."

Also sworn in on Monday was an F.C.C. commissioner, Michael O'Rielly, a former adviser to Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican. Mr. O'Rielly and Mr. Wheeler put the F.C.C.'s five- member board back at full strength, with three Democrats and two Republicans.

Ms. Sohn, in her new role, will work with legislators and intergovernmental agencies, an F.C.C. spokesman said. Under Ms. Sohn, Public Knowledge had been a sharp critic of the previous chairman, Julius Genachowski, particularly over the commission's failure to reclassify Internet service in a regulatory category that would treat it as a public utility, potentially subject to the same oversight and rate regulation as telephone companies. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.