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Senate Confirms Wheeler as FCC Chairman

By Daniel Santa Cruz
October 30, 2013 - News

Tom Wheeler has been confirmed as the new chairman of the FCC after a unanimous vote by the Senate on Tuesday.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas had challenged the nomination, but backed off when Wheeler assured him that he wouldn't immediately pursue changes related to TV political-ad regulations.

Michael O'Rielly was also confirmed as an FCC commissioner. The confirmations fill the two spots on the Commission that have been empty since March, when the previous chairman and a Republican member resigned, the New York Times noted.

The confirmation of Wheeler is getting mixed reviews. Sascha Meinrath, VP of the New America Foundation and director of the Open Technology Institute, worries that Wheeler's history as a lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries will cloud his judgment on some issues.

"The FCC will be overseeing decisions on several major issues, from who has access to high quality broadband to how much we pay for communications to how to create a meaningfully competitive broadband market," said Meinrath. " ... it is especially problematic to see the U.S. fall behind a growing list of other countries in broadband availability, price, and speed. The burden is now on Tom Wheeler to demonstrate that he will address these critical issues."

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