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Letter to the President Regarding the FCC Chair Nomination

Published:  March 27, 2013

Today, a coalition of over 25 organizations, including public interest, media reform, Internet freedom, and grassroots organizations sent a letter to President Obama urging him to choose a strong public interest advocate to become chairperson of the Federal Communication Commission. Read the full text of the letter below or download a copy (pdf).

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama:

No government agency is more important to the future of communications than the Federal Communications Commission. As the Obama administration looks to nominate a new chair to head the FCC, it must recognize the severe mismanagement and lack of progress that occurred under Chairman Julius Genachowski and choose a strong advocate for the public interest.

The next FCC chair will face significant challenges on a host of issues: the availability and quality of U.S. broadband; the ability to compete globally on technological issues and development; the lessening of media diversity and resulting inability to meet the information needs of communities; and the lack of fundamental protections for free speech, privacy and data security online. These problems require an FCC chair who will represent the needs of the public and not subjugate these interests to the demands of big telecom companies, technology firms, and media corporations.

During his election campaign, President Obama pledged “to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over.”1 Yet the president is reportedly considering a candidate for the next FCC chair who was the head of not one but two major industry lobbying groups. After decades of industry-backed chairmen, we need a strong consumer advocate and public interest representative at the helm. It’s time to end regulatory capture at the FCC and restore balance to government oversight.

As broadband prices continue to increase, as competition declines, and as millions of Americans lack access to this critical 21st century infrastructure, the administration must nominate an FCC chair who will prioritize the needs of the general public. The Obama administration's support for universal and affordable broadband, strong open Internet rules, open wireless platforms and unlocked mobile devices will all be for naught if it nominates a chair unwilling to take on industry giants.

Where Chairman Genachowski failed at the FCC, it was in large part because he failed to listen to the public interest community. His successor must commit not just to broker deals among various industries, but to work with civil society organizations and actively engage the broader public.

We expect that the administration will put the FCC back on course to do its job for this country and choose a nominee who will protect the future of communications for all. And we will hold the Obama administration to account if it fails to do so.

Signatory organizations,

Access Humboldt
Acorn Active Media Foundation
Center for Media Justice
Community Media Visioning
Demand Progress
Electronic Frontier Foundation—Austin
Fight for the Future
Free Press Action Fund
Global Action Project
Highlander Research and Education Center
Instituto de Educacion Popular del Sur de California (IDEPSCA)
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
Media Action Grassroots Network
Media Mobilizing Project
Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN)
Native Public Media
New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute
New York Tech Meetup
People’s Production House
Personal Democracy Media
Prometheus Radio Project
Sum of Us
Tribal Digital Village Network
Tucows Inc.
Urbana Champaign Independent Media Center
Working Narratives

1. See: http://change.gov/agenda/ethics_agenda/.

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