The Biden Administration has once again nominated Gigi Sohn to serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission. This is the second time the Administration has nominated Sohn. Her confirmation ran into several roadblocks last year, especially with Republican Senators. The full Senate never held a vote on her appointment.
As a new session of Congress begins, the process must commence again. The administration believes it is in a better position this year because it has a one-vote majority in the Senate, as opposed to the 50/50 split last session. Time will tell. Many of the objections to Sohn, who represents a decidedly progressive nomination, remain. A few Senate Democrats have also expressed concerns. FCC Chairwomen Jessica Rosenworcel has stated publicly that she supports Sohn’s appointment.
Today, the FCC remains largely neutral. With two Republicans and two Democrats, it is unable to move forward with significant changes to its rules. The addition of Sohn will break the deadlock. Initially, this means the FCC is likely to move forward with reimposing “net neutrality” rules. From our perspective, the FCC will now be able to move forward with its proceeding on local ownership rules. We do not expect any deregulatory changes here. On the contrary, there may be efforts to tighten the rules. In addition, the FCC will be addressing a number of broadcast issues, including the economic relationship between Big Tech and broadcasting over the use of broadcast content.
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