Ex-Commissioner Copps, public advocates push for liberal FCC chief

Current FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell have said they will step down in the coming weeks.

The groups pointed to past statements by Obama voicing support for strong media ownership rules, and urged him to pick a new chairman who will combat media consolidation and push for more media ownership by minority groups.

They called for a chairman who will critically review media mergers, expand broadband services and ensure that people who are blind or deaf have access to communications services.

Verizon has sued to overturn the FCC's net-neutrality regulations, which require Internet providers to treat traffic to all websites equally. The public advocacy groups noted that President Obama has often voiced support for the rules, and urged him to pick a chairman who will defend them in court.

They also said the new FCC chairman should be willing to use the agency's existing authority to require more disclosure of the donors behind political TV ads. 

The groups called for a new chairman and Republican commissioner who will reject pleas from industry groups to enact deregulatory policies.

"Your new FCC appointees will need to deal with industry’s unfounded deregulatory pleas, and its calls to wipe away decades of hard-fought universal service requirements and consumer protections," they wrote.

They said the new FCC chairman must chart a new course that will "prioritize the public interest over corporate interests."

Potential candidates for the chairman's job include venture capitalist Tom Wheeler; Karen Kornbluh, ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; and Larry Strickling, the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Current FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn are also possibilities.

A narrower group of public interest groups sent a letter last week bashing front-runner Wheeler saying his past jobs lobbying for industry groups make him unsuitable for the job.