Nearly two weeks after the election, onlookers are finally getting a glimpse into what the Federal Communications Commission under President-elect Donald Trump might look like.
Trump on Monday announced the appointment of Jeff Eisenach and Mark Jamison to his FCC transition team, putting them in place to help pick key FCC staff members for the upcoming administration.
Eisenach, an employee of consulting firm NERA Economic Consulting who opposed Trump early in the election cycle, has previously served as a member of the 1980-81 Reagan-Bush Transition Team for the Federal Trade Commission, and the 2000-2001 Bush-Cheney Transition Team for the FCC. He’s also worked with the Virginia Governor’s Commission and Attorney General’s Task Force on E-Communities and Identity Theft, respectively, and has served as a paid consultant for Verizon and other telecom industry trade associations like GSMA.
Jamison comes to the Trump team from the University of Florida, where he serves as both director of Telecommunications Studies and the University’s Public Utility Research Center. He previously served as a special academic advisor to the chair of the Florida Governor’s Internet task force and was manager of regulatory policy at Sprint.
While some have raised concerns about Eisenach and Jamison’s histories as lobbyists, it is worth noting that current FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler also came to the commission from the industry, serving as president and CEO of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) from 1979 to 1984 and CEO of CTIA for 12 years from 1992 to 2004.
As pointed out by Recode, though, Eisenach and Jamison have a very different view of telecom policy than Wheeler. Both Eisenach and Jamison have track records of being both anti-net neutrality, opposed to the pending set-top box rules, and against regulations that would prevent further telecom consolidation.
In September 2014, Eisenach testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that “net neutrality regulation cannot be justified on grounds of enhancing consumer welfare or protecting the public interest. Rather, it is best understood as an effort by one set of private interests to enrich itself by using the power of the state to obtain free services from another,” and called the consequences of net neutrality both “sweeping and severe.”
Similarly, Jamison in June 2016 wrote net neutrality in the United States is “failing” and “backfiring against some of the very people it is supposed to help.” Instead of current policy, Jamison proposed a three-part alternative that would see U.S. regulators take a “multistakeholder approach” to address how networks, content, and computing can “coevolve”; control monopoly power with ex ante regulations if consumer harm emerges; and ex post regulation per the status quo to address anticompetitive conduct when it occurs.
Eisenach has also taken a stance in favor of zero rating, which bodes well for AT&T in the face of FCC scrutiny of its DirecTV Now mobile streaming offer. According to Eisenach, zero rating programs offer an “efficient mechanism” for boosting consumer welfare by increasing access to online information and digital communications services.
Prior to Monday’s appointments, Wheeler said the FCC had yet to hear from Trump’s transition team but was attempting to lay the groundwork for the change based on the transition structure set up by the Obama administration years ago. He did, however, caution that any attempts from the incoming administration to roll back measures like net neutrality and privacy regulations “would be a mistake.”
Wheeler, who is widely expected to depart with the Obama administration at the end of the year, dodged reporter questions about his end date following the FCC’s most recent meeting last week, saying he would keep everyone posted once a decision was made.
Filed Under: Industry regulations