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Obama Nominates McDowell for Second FCC Term

President Obama today nominated Robert McDowell, a Republican commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, to serve another term at the watchdog agency.

The nomination leaves one remaining open seat at the FCC, which is expected to be filled by former Commerce Department official Meredith Atwell Baker, a Republican.

The Senate is expected to hold a hearing on Obama's pick to lead the agency, Julius Genachowski, later this month along with McDowell.

McDowell came to the agency in 2006 after serving two decades at telecom trade groups. He has pushed for free market principles and deregulation and differed with former Republican FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin on a ruling against Comcast's network management practices that blocked video application BitTorrent.

McDowell's chief of staff, Angela Giancarlo, didn't immediately return a request for an interview.

Disagreements between Martin and McDowell began just after his arrival at the FCC, when McDowell removed himself from a vote on the merger between AT&T and BellSouth, citing a conflict of interest because of his lobbying background for the telecommunications firms. By recusing himself from the vote, the approval became harder for the agency that at the time had three Republican commissioners and two Democrats.

"While we have not always agreed on every issue, we feel that Commissioner McDowell's understanding of industry investment dynamics, as well as his experience with the many complex issues facing the telecommunications sector, will be of value to the new FCC," said Jim Cicconi, AT&T's head of external and legislative affairs.

By Cecilia Kang  |  June 2, 2009; 5:40 PM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang
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