Genachowski’s path to the chairmanship of the FCC in some ways mirrored that of his predecessor, Kevin Martin ’93, though they arrived via different sides of the political aisle. After graduating from Harvard Law, each worked as a legal adviser to the FCC early in his career, and then as a technology adviser for the president-elect, prior to being tapped as head of the agency. Martin served as a commissioner of the FCC during President George W. Bush’s first term, and was elevated to chairman at the beginning of his second, during a time of exponential Internet growth. His philosophy during his four years as chairman, he has said, was to “pursue deregulation while paying close attention to its impact on consumers and the particulars of a given market.” In terms of broadband, his goal was to create the conditions necessary for the expansion of broadband infrastructure—the number of broadband lines doubled to more than 100 million during his tenure—and also to push the development of broadband networks that could link state and regional health care facilities.
Like Genachowski, Martin faced controversy during his tenure, particularly over the FCC’s efforts to strengthen policing of indecency over the airwaves and to relax media ownership rules.
In October, Martin offered some advice to Genachowski, as part of a C-SPAN panel with former FCC Chairmen Reed Hundt and Michael Powell: “Some of the most important advice I got as chairman was that you have to be deliberate in thinking and decision-making, but you have to make sure you move forward with what you thought was the right thing.”
Martin is now a partner at the law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs, in Washington, D.C., where he co-chairs the technology and communications practice, and is representing a half dozen clients opposed to the proposed $30 billion merger of Comcast and NBC—a plan that is now under review at … the FCC.