Speculation begins on FCC successors

Two Republican members of the Federal Communications Commission will be sent packing as a result of Bill Clinton’s victory over President Bush, and already there are bets being placed on their successors.

Chairman Al Sikes and commissioner Sherrie Marshall are expected to depart the FCC shortly, leaving Democrats James Quello and Ervin Duggan and Republican Andrew Barrett as the commissioners until the vacancies are filled.

Clinton will be permitted to appoint one Democrat and one Republican to fill the seats. Though GOP candidates have not surfaced, there is frenzied speculation over who the Democrat might be.

The list includes D.C. communications attorney Phil Verveer, a classmate of Clinton’s during his Georgetown U. days; Antoinette Cook, counsel to Senate Commerce Committee chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and stepdaughter of National Urban League head Vernon Jordan; Larry Irving, counsel to House telecommunications subcommittee chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.); and Roy Neel, a communications adviser to Gore.

Verveer gets high marks from Tom Casey, a D.C. attorney who has helped coordinate communications policy papers for Clinton. Casey calls Verveer “an extraordinarily able guy, with a deep commitment to public service.”

The $ 64,000 question among FCC-watchers is whether the Democrat selected by Clinton will be nominated as chairman of the agency, or whether Clinton will bump up Duggan from commissioner to chairman.

Quello, who at 77 is not considered a likely chairman, is lobbying for Duggan in the chairmanship post.

Though the chairman of the FCC has only one vote on all issues coming before the commission, the position is considered important because the chairman establishes the agenda for the agency.

Hollywood will likely view the departure of Marshall as a big loss, since she helped thwart Sikes’ bid to gut financial interest and syndication rules last year.

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