Obama to name new FCC chief. The new Dr. J?

Jake Turcotte

When you think of the name Julius, who comes to mind?

Exactly. Dr. J. Julius Erving. The greatest dunker of all time.

But,that's not what this post is about. Cut us a little slack, please. On a political blog, you don't often have the opportunity to write about the former 76'er. And that's too bad. (So we put a video of Dr. J in action below).

The new Dr. J

Moving forward, perhaps the next time you hear the name Julius you'll think of Julius Genachowski -- as in the former Harvard classmate of the president-elect and the guy who is Obama's pick to head up the FCC.

Although the official announcement hasn't been made yet, sources say it is coming soon.

Internet bazillions

Currently Genachowski serves as Obama's top tech adviser on his transition team. Before then, Genachowski helped Obama raise some money for his campaign.

In fact, he's the guy credited for building Obama's Internet fundraising machine. And he's the guy who wrote Obama's detailed tech plan that supports net neutrality protections and affordable broadband access nationwide.

An old pro

He's no newbie to this gig. He's done the FCC thing before. In fact, he served as chief counsel to former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt from 1994 to 1997.

What's he been done since then? A lot. Really a lot.

His bio is located here. In a nutshell, he is the co-founder and managing director of Rock Creek Ventures, an investment and advisory services firm. Before forming Rock Creek, he was a senior executive for eight years at IAC/InterActiveCorp serving as chief of business operations, general counsel, and a member of Barry Diller's office of the chairman, and playing a key role in IAC's growth to become a multibillion-dollar global major e-commerce and new media company.

He did a lot of other stuff too, like serve on the boards of The Motley Fool, Website Pros, and Mark Ecko Enterprises.

Crowd pleaser

How's he being received? Mostly good.

MarketWatch quotes Ken Ferree, a former FCC media bureau chief under Republican Chairman Michael Powell, as saying Genachowski is an "outstanding choice."

"He is knowledgeable, experienced, and presumably will have the ear of the most influential people within the administration," said Ferree, president of the libertarian-leaning Progress and Freedom Foundation.

Strong leadership

Free Press executive director Josh Silver welcomed the news, stating that Genchowski will move the FCC "toward the public interest".

"The challenges facing the next FCC are enormous -- a vast digital divide, an open Internet in jeopardy, consolidated media ownership, newsrooms in economic freefall, and entrenched industries invested in maintaining the status quo," he said. "This moment calls for bold and immediate steps to spur competition, foster innovation and breathe new life into our communications sector. With his unique blend of business and governmental experience, Genachowski promises to provide the strong leadership we need."

Break it down

What's his selection mean? Let's go to the popular tech web site Gizmodo to get their take.

"He promises to be a different kind of FCC chair than current chairman Kevin Martin," writes Gizmodo's Matt Buchanan. "Most crucially (for nerds), Genachowski supports net neutrality, while Martin was opposed to it, or at least the government mandating it.

"Martin also had a streak of relaxing media ownership rules, while Genachowski's plans call for 'media-ownership rules that encourage more diversity.' And telecoms like Verizon will probably be sad Martin is going away since he definitely played favorites with them over cable (allegedly inappropriately so)."

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.