FCC in limbo as Sikes exits

The rudderless Federal Communications Commission officially entered policy limbo yesterday, with no word from the Clinton administration on who will be named to succeed chairman Al Sikes.

Traditionally, the FCC chairman sets the agency’s agenda, and it’s not expected that many new initiatives will be launched until Clinton’s nominee is confirmed.

Sikes, a Bush-appointed Republican, resigned Tuesday to pave the way for Clinton to select his own chairman. Of the four remaining commissioners, two are Republicans (Sherrie Marshall and Andrew Barrett) and two are Democrats (James Quello and Ervin Duggan).

Marshall, whose term expired last June, will be leaving as soon as Clinton appoints a replacement.

In the midst of the confusion over new FCC appointments, agency staffers are doing anything but relaxing. Rather, they’re working overtime drawing up rules to comply with the new cable reregulation law. The commission is also under court order to draw up new fin-syn rules by early April.

Meanwhile, there was speculation yesterday that Quello might be named interim chairman of the agency as early as today.

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