FCC Chairman Julius Genachowksi to Leave Agency

U.S. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski to leave agency
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The chairman of the FCC is leaving the agency, reports said Thursday evening.

Julius Genachowski, a Democrat appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009, plans to announce his resignation tomorrow, according to Bloomberg. His departure creates a second vacancy on the five-member Federal Communications Commission; on Wednesday, commissioner Robert McDowell, senior member of the FCC's Republican minority, said he would step down in the coming weeks after a seven-year tenure. Genachowski said then he had "no news" on his own intentions, although Reuters reported that he was "widely expected to leave in coming months as well."

McDowell's announcement perhaps freed up Genachowski to resign, since it meant the chairman could leave without creating a 2-2 split between the panel's Democratic and Republican members. The Obama administration can now put forward two nominees at once, one from each party, paving the way for a smooth Senate confirmation.

As chairman, Genachowski focused on expanding access to mobile broadband, in contrast to his predecessors. He opposed AT&T's (T) proposed takeover of mobile carrier T-Mobile USA, on the grounds that the acquisition would have anti-competitive consequences and be bad for consumers. Engadget notes that he expressed concern over the government's harsh stance on phone-locking. And his FCC "levied no fines for broadcast indecency," Bloomberg reports, "after a flurry of penalties under Republican chairmen from 2003 to 2008."