FCC’s Rosenworcel held to fire by Senate Democrats for not supporting set-top regulation

Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have lifted a hold on Jessica Rosenworcel's renomination to the FCC.

Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have lifted a hold on the renomination to the FCC of Jessica Rosenworcel after what Markey described as “positive conversations” between the senators and the Democratic agency commissioner.

Markey and Wyden are locked in a controversial battle with GOP lawmakers over Rosenworcel’s renomination. They threatened to abandon support for her last week, citing her refusal to support party initiatives, such as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s effort to regulate pay TV’s leased set-top business.

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In September, Wheeler removed his latest version of the so-called Unlock the Box proposal from the FCC’s voting agenda after he was unable to get Rosenworcel to join him and form a 3-2 Democratic majority on the commission needed for passage. 

Markey "wants an FCC commissioner who is unequivocally committed to pro-consumer, pro-competition policies," said a spokesperson for Markey to the Washington Post. "Recent actions from Commissioner Rosenworcel have called that commitment into question."

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Markey and Wyden were instrumental in driving Wheeler’s progressive regulatory agenda. In fact, it was their 2014 study that produced the figures—including one that suggested that pay-TV operators make $20 billion a year from leasing set tops to consumers—that underpinned “Unlock the Box.”

However, following far right President-elect Donald Trump’s selection to the White House, Wheeler has heeded the call from congressional Republicans to ramp down his agenda.