Obama picks FCC chief

President-elect Barack Obama plans to nominate Julius Genachowski to be chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, a Democratic official said Monday.

Genachowski, a former Harvard Law School classmate of Obama’s, is a co-founder and managing director of Rock Creek Ventures, a Washington venture capital firm specializing in digital media and e-commerce companies. Before that, he spent eight years as an executive at Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp.

During the campaign, Genachowski was a key technology advisor and fundraiser.

Genachowski served as chief counsel to former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt from 1994 to 1997. He was a clerk to two Supreme Court justices -- David H. Souter and William J. Brennan Jr. -- and has worked on Capitol Hill.


If confirmed by the Senate, Genachowski would take over the FCC in an administration that seeks to increase access to high-speed Internet service nationwide. The FCC plays a key role in monitoring the nation’s Internet capacity.

Obama’s campaign drew strong support from Internet activists by advocating that telecommunications companies be prevented from charging websites for faster delivery of their content, an issue known as network neutrality. Genachowski was one of the architects of Obama’s Internet outreach efforts, which resulted in record amounts of funds raised online.

The FCC also is one of the agencies overseeing the switch to all-digital broadcast television. Obama’s transition team chairman last week urged Congress to delay the Feb. 17 switch because a program to help consumers make the change ran out of money.

Genachowski would take over from Republican Kevin J. Martin.