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FCC Chair Tom Wheeler at the 2014 NAB Show

Wheeler Profile Reveals Very Little Info on Radio or Net Neutrality

On Friday the Washington Post published a profile of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that vividly paints some of his quirks, but reveals very little of his policy outlook. Anyone looking for insights on radio or net neutrality here will be disappointed.

We do get some additional bellyaching from the National Association of Broadcasters, who wish to portray Wheeler as firmly in the pocket of the wireless industry, for which he once served as chief lobbyist. NAB executive vice president Rick Kaplan–and former FCC wireless bureau chief–tells the Post, “NAB’s members are questioning whether he has been able to put behind him his 20 years working for wireless and cable companies and against America’s broadcasters.”

This, despite the fact that Wheeler threw cold water on a possible merger of Sprint and T-mobile before anything had even been announced.

Wheeler didn’t even throw us radio nerds a bone at the NAB Show last week. He didn’t mention radio once in his address last Tuesday [PDF]. He mostly burnished his broadcasting bona fides, though he did make a dig at the industry’s digital myopia in discussing open Internet policy, saying,

“I hope you don’t view the open Internet is something relevant only to a different part of communications.”

Zing! Almost sounds like something I would have said.

Those of us concerned about whether the FCC will further loosen radio ownership or radio-TV-newspaper cross-ownership restrictions will have to keep reading the tea leaves or wait for additional announcements.


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