President Biden Taps Jessica Rosenworcel as Acting FCC Chair

Jessica Rosenworcel, Rebecca Slaughter
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Meanwhile, Rebecca Slaughter has been named acting chair of the FTC.

President Joe Biden has tapped Federal Communications Commission commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to be acting chair of the government agency. Rosenworcel has been an FCC commissioner since 2012 and is seen as one of the favorites to be nominated as the next permanent chair.

Ajit Pai stepped down as FCC chairman on Wednesday.

“I thank the president for the opportunity to lead an agency with such a vital mission and talented staff," Rosenworcel said in a statement Thursday. "It is a privilege to serve the American people and work on their behalf to expand the reach of communications opportunity in the digital age.”

The FCC regulates everything from broadcast television stations to satellite launches and internet rules and regulations. Under Pai, the agency gutted net neutrality rules, which provided oversight to data that flowed over the internet. Rosenworcel strongly criticized the move at the time, though it isn't clear if the agency will seek to undo that change.

Comcast, the country's largest cable and internet provider, said via its chief legal officer Tom Reid that it commended the appointment, adding that Rosenworcel "has worked passionately and tirelessly on the critical issues of connecting all Americans to broadband and closing the homework gap, and been a clear leader on public safety issues and promoting balanced spectrum policy."

Gordon Smith, president of the National Association of Broadcasters, said in a statement that he "applauds" the move, adding that “she is a dedicated and experienced public servant who has demonstrated great aptitude in leading communications policy during her tenure at the Commission. We look forward to working with her and her fellow Commissioners on regulatory policies that help local radio and TV stations serve the public interest.”

At the same time, Biden named Federal Trade Commission commissioner Rebecca Slaughter to be acting FTC chair. Current FTC chair Joe Simons plans to step down Jan. 29, while Slaughter's fellow Democratic Commissioner Rohit Chopra has been nominated to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The FTC, along with the DOJ's antitrust division, is responsible for oversight of mergers and acquisitions, which frequently involve media or technology companies. The agency is involved in an active suit against Facebook, accusing the tech giant of monopolization. Slaughter voted in favor of bringing the suit.