Genachowski's name submitted for approval

President-elect Barack Obama is turning to an old Harvard Law School pal to steer his administration’s telecom policy agenda at the FCC.

The incoming Obama administration has submitted Julius Genachowski’s name to the Senate Commerce Committee for approval at a hearing after Obama takes office next week. Genachowski is a longtime friend of Obama’s who has served as a key adviser to his campaign and transition team.

Last week, the Obama team surprised the TV biz by calling on Congress to delay the long-planned transition to digital broadcasting set for Feb. 17 (Daily Variety, Jan. 9), saying the federal effort to guide consumers through the transition has been underfunded.

It’s unclear how quickly the Senate will move to confirm Genachowski’s appointment, though he’s expected to have no trouble securing the votes.

“There is no question that Julius Genachowski has the experience and credentials to successfully reinvigorate the FCC as chair,” said incoming Commerce Committee chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). “I commend President-elect Obama for nominating someone who is completely committed to making technology accessible to all Americans.”

Genachowski previously worked as a top aide to FCC chairman Reed Hundt during the Clinton administration. He then spent seven years as a senior business development exec for Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp and its predecessors. More recently he’s been involved with D.C.-based venture capital firm Rock Creek Ventures and the digital startup LaunchBox Digital.

Although the Obama team has yet to formally announce his nomination, other biz-oriented groups were quick to praise him as a solid choice.

“Julius Genachowski has a keen intellect, a passion for public service and a deep understanding of the important role that free and local broadcasting plays in American life,” said National Assn. of Broadcasters prexy David Rehr.

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