Anthony J. Pennings, PhD


Communications and Media Policy in the 112th Congress

Posted on | January 30, 2011 | No Comments

The Republican victory in House of Representatives suggests new dynamics for communications policy in the 112th Congress although the majority of Democrats in the Senate, however slim, will make it unlikely that any radical changes will occur in the upcoming year.

In the Congress, “communications” covers a wide range of media and telecommunications issues including those involving cable TV, cell phones, commercial TV, consumer electronics, the Internet, noncommercial television, public safety communications, satellite broadcast, satellite communications, radio, telephones, as well as wireline and wireless broadband.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is now chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) with Greg Walden (R-Ore.) taking over the powerful Communications, Technology and Internet subcommittee and is likely to combat the administration’s net neutrality initiatives. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over all telecommunication and information transmissions including foreign telecommunications and cybersecurity. The Democrats have named Rep. Anna Eshoo as the ranking minority member of the subcommittee. Eshoo represents northern California and has been involved in telecom and other high-tech issues.

In the Senate, John D. Rockefeller heads the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation with former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry chairing the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, which I have heard is now called the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet. The ranking minority member is Republican John Ensign of Nevada.

    Majority Members – Democrats

    Kerry, John F. (MA), Chairman
    Inouye, Daniel K. (HI)
    Nelson, Bill (FL)
    Cantwell, Maria (WA)
    Lautenberg, Frank R. (NJ)
    Pryor, Mark L. (AR)
    McCaskill, Claire (MO)
    Klobuchar, Amy (MN)
    Udall, Tom (NM)
    Warner, Mark R. (VA)
    Begich, Mark (AK)
    Rockefeller, John D. (WV), Ex Officio

The Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet is responsible for oversight of a number of government organizations most notably the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA). The NTIA advises the President on telecommunications policy, manages government electromagnetic spectrum as well as its broadband initiatives.



Anthony J. Pennings, PhD has been on the NYU faculty since 2001 teaching digital media, information systems management, and global communications.


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