Former FCC wireless chief joins broadcaster lobbying group

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Kaplan will serve as an executive vice president and lead the group's efforts related to "spectrum and innovation policy." He will begin on Oct. 22.

"We are delighted to announce the hiring of Rick Kaplan, whose credibility and integrity are well-recognized both at the Commission and in telecom circles in Washington," NAB President and former GOP Sen. Gordon Smith (Ore.) said in a statement. "His expertise on spectrum issues will benefit broadcasters greatly as we work with policymakers to ensure a robust local television business for decades to come."

The FCC began accepting comments last week on its proposal to buy back the spectrum licenses of TV stations and sell them to cellular carriers, which have been struggling in recent years to keep pace with the booming data demands of smartphones and tablet computers.

Broadcasters do not have to participate in the auctions, but the group has expressed concern about the timeline of the program and whether stations that do not participate will be reimbursed for all of the incidental costs they may incur.

In a statement, Kaplan said he is thrilled to join "one of Washington's most respected trade associations — NAB — at a critical juncture in the history of broadcasting." 

"I look forward to representing the interests of local TV stations that have a rich legacy of service to their communities, and a vibrant future in the communications ecosystem of tomorrow," he said.

At the Wireless Bureau, Kaplan led the FCC's review of the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. Opposition from the FCC and the Justice Department forced the companies to abandon their $39 billion deal late last year.

He also oversaw the reviews of Comcast's purchase of NBC-Universal and a set of deals between Verizon and a coalition of cable companies. 

Kaplan left the FCC in June.

He is close with Chairman Julius Genachowski, having served as his chief counsel on wireless, media, engineering and public safety issues.

Kaplan also worked for Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and in the Office of the General Counsel with the House of Representatives.