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By Paul Barbagallo
Democratic Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps formally announced his resignation Dec. 6, confirming plans to leave the agency by the end of the year after serving for more than a decade as a commissioner.
President Obama has nominated former Senate Commerce Committee staffer Jessica Rosenworcel to replace Copps, who did not seek a third five-year term. From 2003 to 2007, Rosenworcel worked for Copps as his senior legal adviser.
“It has been a privilege and honor to serve for more than ten years as a commissioner. The FCC is an agency of true excellence and its decisions are integral to our country's future,” Copps said in a statement. “Ubiquitous, opportunity-creating broadband and a resource-rich media capable of informing our civic dialogue are critically-important components of our future success as a people, and I intend to keep speaking about these challenges as a private citizen in the years ahead,” he added.
As a commissioner, Copps was concerned with the quality and integrity of American journalism, advocating for diversity in programming and ownership while opposing industry consolidation. Last year, he cast the only vote against approving Comcast Corp.'s acquisition of NBC Universal.
In Copps's absence, industry observers predict that Rosenworcel will play the role of consumer-minded and left-leaning FCC commissioner.
His resignation is effective Jan. 1, 2012. If the Senate confirms Rosenworcel prior to that, he said he would leave sooner.
Neither Rosenworcel nor former FCC deputy general counsel Ajit Pai are considered controversial nominations to the FCC. However, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has threatened to block their confirmation because the agency has refused to turn over documents related to a conditional waiver the agency granted to LightSquared Inc. in January to build a nationwide mobile broadband network.
The project is controversial because of its expected impact on global positioning systems operations.
Grassley's main complaint stems from a belief that the FCC may have given LightSquared preferential treatment once the company's principals began contributing to the Democratic Party.
The Senate Commerce Committee will consider the nominations Dec. 8.
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