Will poor FCC Chairman Kevin Martin get another Republican commissioner for Christmas? According to the National Journal’s Insider Update there are two new names being floated to replace Kathleen Abernathy. They’re both telecomm industry insiders with plenty of industry connections, so we can rest assured that the public interest will not be a primary concern for whoever gets nominated and confirmed.
One candidate is lobbyist Robert McDowell, who is senior vice president and assistant general counsel with CompTel, which represents telecomm companies like Qwest and BellSouth, and other companies that compete with incumbent telcos.
The other candidate is William Crispin, a communications lawyer at the head of Crispin & Associates, which representes wireless providers like Qualcomm and Nextel.
At this point it’s hard to predict what either man will do with more media related issues, like indecency and ownership. Although, it’s hard to see them as strong opponents of loosening ownership rules — their backgrounds are too pro-industry to see them biting that hand.
One interesting tidbit the National Journal uncovered is that Cripsin apparently has given generously in the past to Sen. John McCain, former chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, and someone who has become a strange friend of the public interest in the last few years. I’m not sure how well McCain and current chair, the more industry and Bush-friendly Ted Stevens, get along these days. So a friend of McCain’s might not be a friend of Stevens, who Bush has given effective veto power over the next FCC nominee.
In any event, the likelihood of a nomination and confirmation by the end of the year is very low. It looks like the FCC will start 2006 still one Republican short, further delaying taking up issues like media ownership, where chairman Martin desperately needs a Republican majority.