Just a few years after he oversaw key policy issues affecting Cisco, former FCC chair Michael Powell has joined its board of directors. Powell’s decisions while at the FCC often dovetailed with Cisco’s own agenda, including opposing a policy requiring broadband network non-discrimination. Powell adds Cisco to his growing list of profitable media and communications industry gigs, including his buying up media properties role as a senior advisor with Providence Equity Partners.
As we’ve mentioned, Powell is just one of former FCC officials working for or with the very companies and industries they only a short while ago were sworn to oversee on behalf of the public. Powell’s two Democratic predecessors, Reed Hundt and William Kennard, are also working with the industry.
The next time there is an opening for a chair or commissioner, advocates should press for someone not connected to the communications business. Nominees should also pledge they won’t seek work in the industry after their term. We need independent people at the FCC who always put the public interest first, and not think about their next private deal.÷š It’s time for a major project to force the White House and the Senate to select FCC commissioners who are not a part of the permanent media/telecom lobby.