Communications Giants in Good Hands with Tom Wheeler
Communications Giants in Good Hands with Tom Wheeler - by Stephen Lendman
Obama's expected to pick Tom Wheeler as new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman. More on him below.
In March, former FCC chairman Julius Genachowski stepped down. At the time, Free Press.net president Craig Aaron said the following:
"When Julius Genachowski took office, there were high hopes that he would use his powerful position to promote the public interest."
"But instead of acting as the people's champion, he’s catered to corporate interests. His tenure has been marked by wavering and caving rather than the strong leadership so needed at this crucial agency."
"Though President Obama promised his FCC chairman would not continue the Bush administration’s failed media ownership policies, Genachowski offered the exact same broken ideas that Bush's two chairmen pushed."
"He never faced the public and ignored the overwhelming opposition to his plans."
"Genachowski claimed broadband was his agency's top priority, but he stood by as prices rose and competition dwindled."
"He claimed to be a staunch defender of the open Internet, but his Net Neutrality policies are full of loopholes and offer no guarantee that the FCC will be able to protect consumers from corporate abuse in the future."
"While there were a few bright moments during the Genachowski years - including the agency’s opposition to the AT&T/T-Mobile merger and the push for more online transparency from broadcasters - the chairman squandered many more opportunities at critical junctures.
"We urge President Obama to nominate a successor who will enact policies that foster real competition, protect diversity and amplify local voices."
On March 27, Free Press.net headlined "Why the New Boss at the FCC Should Be Nothing Like the Old Boss," saying:
FCC policies are crucial. They're "at the heart of our ability to communicate. The agency oversees sectors of the economy responsible for hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity and millions of jobs."
Earlier FCC decisions helped create the Internet. Current ones threaten its future.
In 2008, candidate Obama promised to "support the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet."
He failed to deliver. Corporate giants control things. The digital revolution's promise hasn't been fulfilled. Its future is threatened. It's been compromised by industry exploitation. Obama sold out to corporate interests like he always does.
In June 2009, he appointed industry insider Julius Genachowski FCC chairman. He's a technology and media industries executive, investor and board member.
He scrapped Net Neutrality protections. He opted for loophole-ridden half measures. He failed to reestablish FCC authority over broadband. Free Press.net called it "his most significant policy blunder."
He served industry interests instead. He did so across the board. He endorsed toothless, voluntary codes. He did nothing to make providers accountable. He ignored rising consumer costs. He supported media consolidation. He turned a blind eye to its lack of diversity.
According to Free Press.net, his "only real priority (was) getting good press, though that didn't really happen either."
"If (he) spent half as much time earning support for his actions as he did trying to line up photo ops and balloon drops, then maybe he'd have an actual legacy."
He "left his successor a real mess." Conditions now are worse than ever. Industry giants control things. Consumers lost out. The FCC needs leadership "absolutely nothing like Julius Genachowski," said Free Press.
He's now an Aspen Institute (AI) Communications and Society Program senior fellow. He'll join his four immediate predecessors there - Reed Hundt, Bill Kennard, Michael Powell and Kevin Martin.
AI is an elitist organization. It's international and influential. It's members include businessmen, politicians, bureaucrats, and likeminded figures.
Its board of trustees includes Robert Steel (chairman), Walter Isaacson (president and CEO), Madeleine Albright, Michael Eisner, David Koch, Jordan's Queen Noor, Condoleeza Rice, and Vin Weber among others.
On March 27, the Free Press Action Fund and 27 other organizations wrote Obama. They urged him to choose an FCC chairman willing to "protect the future of communications for all."
They said they'll hold him accountable if he fails to do so.
Tom Wheeler's not what they had in mind. He's a former top Obama fundraiser. He's an entrepreur and venture capitalist. He's a former cable and wireless industries lobbyist.
Candidate Obama pledged "to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over."
President Obama benefits handsomely from millions they contribute and raise on his behalf. On October 27, 2011, The New York Times headlined "Obama Backers Tied to Lobbies Raise Millions," saying:
"Despite a pledge not to take money from lobbyists, President Obama has relied on prominent supporters who are active in the lobbying industry to raise millions of dollars for his re-election bid."
At least 15 of his so-called "bundlers" aren't registered lobbyists.
"But registered or not, (they're) in many ways indistinguishable from people who fit the technical definition of a lobbyist. They glide easily through the corridors of power…"
They host Obama fundraisers. They visit the White House often. They got the FCC chairman they wanted. The Los Angeles Times once called Wheeler "the rock star of telecom." He's a longtime communications industry insider.
He was credited with fueling a major mobile phone industry spectrum expansion. He was an Obama's 2008 transition team member. He served on his Intelligence Advisory Board.
Clinton and Bush appointed him a John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts trustee. He's a former Foundation for the National Archives chairman and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) board member.
He previously headed the National Cable Television and Cellular Telecommunications and Internet (lobbying) associations.
He's Core Capital Partners' managing director. He previously founded cable, wireless and video communication services companies.
He's connected to 16 board members in 16 organizations representing 21 communications-related industries. He's Component Repair Technologies, Inc. president. Formerly he headed new technology company start-ups.
He co-founded SmartBrief. It's an online news service. He served on the FCC's Technology Advisory Council. He recently chaired the State Department's communication policy committee. He held other government advisory positions.
His wife, Carol, formerly was a National Association of Broadcasters government affairs official.
Cablevision magazine named him one of the 20 most influential industry executives. On the cellular telecommunications 25th anniversary, he was called one of its 10 top innovators. His resume includes many other industry related associations and activities.
An unnamed White House official called him "an experienced leader in the communications technology field who shares the president's commitment to protecting consumers, promoting innovation, enhancing competition and encouraging investment."
According to Free Press President Craig Aaron:
"The Federal Communications Commission needs a strong leader - someone who will use this powerful position to stand up to industry giants and protect the public interest."
"On paper, Tom Wheeler does not appear to be that person."
Parents Television Council President Tim Winter said it would be "hard to know whether Mr. Wheeler will be truly focused on serving the interests of the American people."
Other critics fear his ties to lobbying groups and other industry interests. They have good reason for concerns. It's hard imagining a longtime insider changing spots. He won't likely become a responsible consumer advocate.
Women's Media Center co-founder, Gloria Steinem, expressed misgivings, saying:
"The president missed an opportunity to make history and make the FCC more democratic."
His entire tenure reflects anti-democratic/anti-populist policies. Expect no positive change ahead.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book is titled Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity:
Visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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