Top cable executives and industry lobbyists rolled out the welcome mat for Tom Wheeler, a former National Cable & Telecommunications Association chief whom President Obama nominated Wednesday to be the next chairman of the FCC.
"We applaud President Obama's nomination and we look forward to working with the commission under Tom's leadership," Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) CEO Brian Roberts said in a prepared statement. Comcast sued the FCC last August, after the commission ordered it to expand its distribution of Tennis Channel. Attorneys for the FCC and Comcast are litigating the case at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Former FCC chairman Michael Powell, who was named CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association in 2011, also cheered the nomination of Wheeler, who ran NCTA from 1979 to 1984. Wheeler was head of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association from 1992 to 2003.
"With his significant experience in both the private and public sector, Tom is an exceptional choice to lead the commission during a time when the telecommunications marketplace is experiencing significant innovation and incredible change," Powell said in a statement. Some of the key issues Powell will likely focus on in his meetings with Wheeler are usage-based broadband billing and data caps that cable MSOs and other broadband providers are beginning to implement.
Wheeler, who was named managing director of Core Capital in 2005, is also a co-founder of SmartBrief, which compiles electronic newsletters covering several industries. Its portfolio includes CTAM SmartBrief, which focuses on cable marketing and technology stories.
Obama introduced Wheeler as the nominee to succeed current FCC chairman Julius Genachowski at the White House Wednesday afternoon.
"Tom is the only member of both the cable television and the wireless industry hall of fame. So he's like the Jim Brown of telecom, or the Bo Jackson of telecom. And that's because for more than 30 years, Tom has been at the forefront of some of the very dramatic changes that we've seen in the way we communicate and how we live our lives," Obama said, according to a copy of his address that was released by the White House.
Officials at the National Association of Broadcasters and the Consumer Electronics Association also cheered Wheeler's nomination.
Obama announced that FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn will serve as interim chairwoman until Wheeler is confirmed by the Senate.
- see the Comcast statement
- see NAB's statement
- see CEA's statement
- see NCTA's statement
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