New FCC chairman could begin presiding July 2

The full Senate agreed by unanimous consent Thursday to confirm Julius Genachowski as the next chairman of the FCC. Also approved was the re-nomination of Republican commissioner Robert McDowell.

McDowell’s vote in the Senate Commerce Committee was unanimous; Genachowski’s was 24-1, with only Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) voting against.

President Obama must still sign the commissioning papers and the pair must be sworn in, but historically that has happened in a matter of days. That means Genachowski could be presiding over his first meeting July 2, the FCC’s next public meeting.

Genachowski, a former Harvard Law School classmate of Obama’s, helped draft the Obama campaign’s technology policy plan, which some at the time boiled down to “open government, open networks, and open markets.”

He is co-founder of venture capital firm Rock Creek Ventures, a former adviser to FCC chairman Reed Hundt, and was a senior executive from 1997 to 2005 at Barry Diller’s media company, IAC/InterActiveCorp.

Genachowski has been well received by lawmakers as well as media biz execs.

“We congratulate Julius Genachowski on his confirmation as chairman of the FCC,” said Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts in a statement. “He has an exceptionable combination of public service and real-world business experience which are vital at this exciting time in communications and technology.”

Media watchdog org Free Press was also enthusiastic.

“We are thrilled that Julius Genachowski has finally been confirmed,” said executive director Josh Silver. “It’s time for the FCC to tackle some of the pressing issues that have been put on hold, such as bringing fast, affordable, open broadband to everyone, spurring innovation and competition and diversifying media ownership.”

John Eggerton writes for Daily Variety sister publication Broadcasting & Cable.

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