FCC Names New Top Cop

The new chief of the agency’s Enforcement Bureau is P. Michelle Ellison, who will assume her duties as of September 28.
Interestingly, Ms. Ellison was not part of the Enforcement Bureau (typically they like to promote from within their own bureaus). Instead, she’s a lawyer – (soon to be former) “Deputy General Counsel, a position she has held for the last twelve years, and most recently served as Acting General Counsel of the FCC through July 2009.”
Ms. Ellison also helped Mingon Clyburn make the transition to Commissioner earlier this year. In addition, she’s handled “complex FCC litigation before the federal courts and varied practice at the agency, from her initial years of handling complex FCC litigation before the federal courts to here current focus on competition policy in the context of mergers and acquisitions and on spectrum and fraud matters involving billions in auctions and universal service funds.”
Perhaps the high-point of the announcement is Ms. Ellison’s co-chairmanship of the Commission’s Localism Task Force. While said Task Force hasn’t done a whole hell of a lot in the last year and a half, it would seem prudent to assume that Ms. Ellison understands the importance of localism to the media environment.
Whether this will change the Enforcement Bureau’s policy toward unlicensed broadcasting is unclear, but for the first time in a while the FCC’s top cop at least may have a clue as to why people risk contravening a law just in order to speak to each other. It’s a lot to expect from a career lawyer, though.
Electronic civil disobedience will still most likely be the only way to get on the radio dial where you live – FCC staff report there are no plans to move along the LPFM proceeding anytime this year.