Sohn’s FCC Nomination Moves to the Full Senate After Split Vote
Friday, March 04, 2022 | Comments

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation advanced the nomination of Gigi Sohn as FCC commissioner to the full senate.

Sohn’s nomination received a split vote from the 28 member committee but still advanced to the full Senate. Some Republican lawmakers have expressed concern about Sohn’s nomination to the FCC. For example, in a speech made during a nomination hearing for Sohn, Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker expressed concern about Sohn’s ability to make impartial decisions, particularly in regard to decisions about broadcasters and their content.

“Two weeks ago, Ms. Sohn sent a letter to the FCC voluntarily recusing herself from any proceeding concerning retransmission consent or television broadcast copyright,” Wicker said. However, in a puzzling move, she based this recusal on a single filing at the commission while she was president of the advocacy group, Public Knowledge. If Ms. Sohn feels that she cannot be viewed as impartial on matters related to this particular filing and docket, should that same rationale extend to the many other matters that Public Knowledge submitted filings on during her tenure? A number of industry associations have expressed a concern that she suffers similar conflicts, or at least the appearance of conflicts, to the one she identified in her recusal letter. Based on Ms. Sohn’s own stated reasoning, it seems to me there may be additional matters from which she would need to recuse herself if she follows this rationale.”

Sohn was the cofounder of Public Knowledge, an intellectual property (IP) policy advocacy organization, and served as CEO until 2013.

Wicker was one of the 14 committee members who voted against advancing Sohn’s nomination. Organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have also expressed concerns about Sohn serving as an FCC commissioner.

Several organizations such as the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) and the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) commended the advancement of Sohn’s nomination.

“NATOA applauds Senator Cantwell and the commerce committee for moving Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the full senate,” said NATOA President Michael Russo in a statement. “We congratulate Ms. Sohn and look forward to her confirmation to fill the long-vacant fifth commissioner seat. A fully staffed FCC is necessary to ensure that federal communications policies promote and protect the public interest, including NATOA’s efforts to protect consumers, enhance public safety, promote and expand community media and advance other local government communications goals.”

President Joe Biden first nominated Sohn to the vacant seat on the commission in October. However, her nomination was not acted on and expired Dec. 31. Biden renominated her in January for the position.

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