Genachowski to step down as FCC chairman

Julius Genachowski will depart over several weeks.
Julius Genachowski will depart over several weeks.
Posted: March 24, 2013

Julius Genachowski, head of the federal agency that approved Comcast Corp.'s purchase of NBCUniversal, said Friday that he would step down from a "revitalized" Federal Communications Commission over the next several weeks.

The resignation allows President Obama to appoint a new chairman at the FCC for his second term.

Genachowski, announcing his resignation at the agency Friday morning, said his tenure was marked by the expansion of the nation's broadband and wireless economies.

One of Genachowski's early regulatory actions was an attempt to make Phillies and 76ers games on Comcast SportsNet available to Philadelphia-area customers of DirecTV and Dish. The games are still not available to satellite-TV customers.

In early 2011, the Genachowski-led FCC approved Comcast's purchase of 51 percent of NBCUniversal after the agency had studied the deal for public-interest benefits for about a year. Comcast completed its purchase of the remaining 49 percent on Tuesday for $16.7 billion.

Industry officials and others praised Genachowski for his leadership, while communications groups expressed disappointment that he did not do more to regulate the Internet.

"During a period of tremendous economic turmoil and marketplace uncertainty, Chairman Genachowski established a future-focused agenda that promoted investment in networks and services that are now delivering important societal benefits to American consumers," Michael Powell, a former FCC chairman who is now head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, said in a statement Friday. "The entire cable industry is grateful to Chairman Genachowski for his exceptional leadership."

Public Knowledge, a nonprofit advocacy group, said Genachowski could have done more at the FCC.

"He had the opportunity, but declined, to solidify the agency's authority and ability to protect consumers with regard to broadband - the communications system of the present and future," the group said. "As a result, there is a real danger that the FCC will become a powerless and irrelevant agency as the nation's communications networks change."


Contact Bob Fernandez at 215-854-5897 or bob.fernandez@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @bobfernandez1.

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