The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Timothy Karr: 201-533-8838,,

Free Press Grades FCC Chairman's First Year 'Incomplete'


Today marks the first anniversary of Julius
Genachowski's chairmanship of the Federal Communications Commission.
While the Commission has taken steps toward meaningful action during his
tenure, much work remains to be done.

Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner
made the following statements:

On Genachowski's first year:

"The Commission has appeared active, but very little of this
activity has yet to produce actual policy changes that positively
affect the public. At the one-year mark, Free Press is giving the
chairman a grade of 'Incomplete, needs improvement' across the board.
Genachowski needs to be willing to pursue critical policies that protect
consumers, even if the largest telecommunications companies don't like
those policies.

"Thus far, the agency has largely failed to adopt policy
changes that are not widely supported by the industries it oversees.
There have been no efforts to address the real problems of our broadband
market -- high prices and slow service due to a lack of meaningful
competition -- and instead the Commission has seemed preoccupied with
focusing on policies that will benefit the major wired and wireless
companies. The public needs a champion willing to challenge those
entrenched interests."

On comparing Genachowski to his predecessors:

"The first-year contrast between Genachowski and his two
Republican predecessors is stark. Former Chairmen Kevin Martin and
Michael Powell quickly pursued the Bush administration's policy agendas
during their first year in office. In Martin's first few months, he
deregulated wireline broadband by classifying it as an information
service, resulting in the FCC's current existential crisis, and approved
the massive Verizon-MCI and SBC-AT&T mergers. Those misguided
actions forever closed the door on the last vestige of the 1996
Telecommunications Act's promise of competition and changed the
political dynamic in a way that has entrenched the cable and telecom
industry's dominance over our broadband marketplace, leaving consumers
with few choices, poor service and high prices.

"It's not too late to turn things around. Chairman Martin
eventually pursued a few public interest strategies at the end of his
term, including the white spaces order and the enforcement against
Comcast's Internet blocking practices. To his credit, Genachowski has
laid some of the groundwork needed to enact meaningful change, but now
he must follow through with decisive action."

On next steps for the chairman:

"In the short term, Chairman Genachowski must make what will
likely be the toughest call of his tenure and move forward with his
plan to reverse the Bush-era mistakes that put the FCC's ability to
protect consumers in jeopardy. He must restore the agency's authority to
protect the open Internet and implement the National Broadband Plan.
History will show that this is the right action to take, and pursuing
this path in the face of intense industry pressure will earn Genachowski
a place in history as a chairman who did what he had to do to promote
the public interest."

Free Press was created to give people a voice in the crucial decisions that shape our media. We believe that positive social change, racial justice and meaningful engagement in public life require equitable access to technology, diverse and independent ownership of media platforms, and journalism that holds leaders accountable and tells people what's actually happening in their communities.

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