Churn at the FCC

Mikey Powell’s giving up the ghost (don’t look back, buddy); Kathleen Abernathy may follow; and W. Kenneth Ferree, head of the FCC’s Media Bureau, is also done. Also, Michael Copps’ term expires in the summer. It’s unusual to have such turnover in a short time. Can we expect substantive change in the agency’s direction?
Probably not. The replacements will not be reformists: they’re straight from the farm team that breeds regulators. These being three primary sources: campaign contributors, congressional staffers, and those already in administrative positions. All of the (speculative) candidates for a Commissioner’s post hail from one of these places. Congressional staff are an especially fertile ground, seeing as it sometimes seems easiest for the two major parties to agree on the appointment of folks already within the family, so to speak.
Ultimately, it’s hard to envision what bona fide change can come from a new crew singing the same old song. Perhaps rhetorical shifts will occur, but on substantive policy? Optimism’s justified in the short term, especially seeing as how the Media Bureau itself may be rudderless for a time. Tough for the FCC to ram through controversial rulemakings, like rewriting its media ownership boondoggle before everybody walks away. Time for reformists to get strategic and actually go on the offensive for a change.
For those already opted-out of the system: it’s business as usual, carry on.
Administrative note: the home computer is home again, comprehensive updates to the rest of the site (bringing it fully into the new year) commence tomorrow.