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Originally published Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 4:05 PM

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Editorial: Obama should find a better FCC chair

Candidate Obama became President Obama touting media opportunities for minorities and women from the newsroom to the boardroom. His choice for FCC commissioner seems out of sync.

Seattle Times Editorial

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PRESIDENT Obama can do better that his choice of a former industry lobbyist to head the Federal Communications Commission.

His choice to replace FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, who is stepping down, is Tom Wheeler. He represented the cable industry 30 years ago and, later, the nation’s cellphone carriers.

Wheeler was also an early supporter of Obama’s bid for the White House. The incumbent should recall one of the goals of candidate Obama:

“Encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation’s spectrum.”

Unrelenting pressure for the consolidation of media outlets reduces opportunities for women and minorities in ownership, and continues to replace local news gathering in broadcast television, radio and newspapers.

Craig Aaron, CEO of Free Press, a nonprofit media-access group, calls out Wheeler and his résumé. At a time the FCC needs a stronger leader to protect the public interest, Aaron bluntly says Wheeler does not appear to be that person.

Obama must start fresh with a nomination that invokes values that helped elect him:

“As we look toward the future, we must ensure that all voices in our diverse nation have the opportunity to be heard. One important way to do this is to expand the ownership stake of women-owned, minority-owned and small businesses in our media outlets.”

Live up to those words.


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