Help wanted: FCC chair, public interest exp preferred

Media reform watchdog Free Press.net is soliciting public input into the appointment of President-elect Barack Obama’s Federal Communications Commission chair with a nifty poll that has already reached nearly 9,000 respondents.

Cast your vote below the fold.

From the Save the Internet blog:

Wanted: a leader who understands that the “open” Internet doesn’t mean a burst pipe, thinks a diverse media is more than just a few minority network anchors, and isn’t afraid to battle chest-thumping corporate lobbyists to protect the public’s interest.

Alright, so we may not be doing the hiring, but President-elect Barack Obama is, and we the public need to hold the president-elect to his campaign promises as he picks the next head of the Federal Communications Commission.

Obama will soon announce his choice to lead the FCC, a decision that will influence every facet of our media system — from media consolidation to broadband access and cell phone innovation.

In recent years, the FCC has been at the center of immense controversy. In 2003, the agency was criticized for burying an internal report on the impact of deregulation in the radio industry that raised concerns about a spike in corporate media consolidation over locally-owned stations that are believed to be more responsive to public needs.

The following year, the FCC allegedly ordered staff to destroy records related to a draft television ownership study that found locally owned stations broadcast up to 5 1/2 minutes more news than corporate conglomerates. The study contradicted the agency’s arguments that local news would not suffer under concentrated ownership in a single market.

In 2006, the FCC refused to investigate whether AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth broke the law for engaging in a controversial White House-sanctioned warrantless wiretapping program arguing that it could jeopardize national security.

ArsTechnica reports that the Obama transition team is moving swiftly to name an FCC successor to replace current chairman Kevin Martin who is expected to resign in February. A formal Senate confirmation is likely by spring 2009.

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Wendy Norris

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