Sohn’s Withdrawal Leaves Questions

Posted on March 30th, 2023 by

Earlier this month when it became clear that Gigi Sohn’s nomination to be the third Democratically appointed FCC commissioner did not have enough votes in the Senate, she formally withdrew her nomination.  In the immediate aftermath of that action, the White House did not have any prospective names as potential new nominees.  Further, we have not heard of any names being floated since.  Adding a new Commissioner is therefore likely several months away, at best.

These developments leave the FCC in a 2-2 deadlock on certain Democratic priorities at the FCC.  For broadcasters, that means a lack of any new direction on the FCC’s multiple ownership rules and a stalemate of sorts on new EEO initiatives.  While the FCC has asked for new comments on its ownership rules under the rubric of a new quadrennial review, that action has been procedurally challenged, meaning that any action on that front is slim at best.  On the EEO side, there had been a push to restore the FCC Form 395-B to report ethnicity and gender information about station employees, and a rulemaking to potentially refine a few rule provisions, including those exempting part-time employees from the FCC’s broad outreach requirements.  It will be interesting to see if the current slate of two Democratic and two Republican appointed commissioners can reach any compromise on the EEO items.