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Deconstructing Julius: A conversation with FCC Chairman Genachowski

October 9, 2009 |  3:39 pm

New Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski popped by our offices Thursday  for a wide-ranging discussion of his agenda at the regulatory agency and the ever-changing media landscape.

Well, we tried to make it a wide-ranging discussion but Genachowski -- a lawyer by training -- plays his cards pretty close to his vest. In other words, he talks a lot but good luck pinning him down on what he's thinking.

GENACHOWSKI Asked about media consolidation, he said there are "very legitimate concerns" but then drifted off into a discussion about how the process of reviewing media concentration issues will be handled by the FCC rather than what he thinks the issues really are.

So we tried to get specific. We asked why there was concern about a company owning a newspaper and a TV station in the same city but no worries about one company owning a dozen cable channels. We didn't get that answered but we did hear a lot about "openly developed analytic frameworks for competition."

We're not sure what that means but since he followed that up with news that the FCC has brought in someone who used to work at McKinsey & Co., we think it has something to do with layoffs. Seriously though, he acknowledged not answering our question, but said he is "trying to institutionalize excellence so not everything is a big mystery" at the FCC. Can't wait for that.

Genachowski was a little clearer on indecency and for now the broadcast networks (cable programming is out of his jurisdiction) may be able to breath easy.

"The FCC shouldn't enter the content world lightly," Genachowski said, adding that he wants technology to solve the problem. The key, he emphasized, is "finding ways parents can be empowered, kids protected and the First Amendment honored."

Sounds good. Does that mean the FCC will finally stop going after CBS for indecency over Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, we wondered. Not exactly.

"We have an obligation to defend the statute."

Spoken like a true lawyer.

-- Joe Flint

Related posts:

FCC to start ownership review process

Photo: FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski visiting The Times. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.

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