FCC nominees greeted warmly, but pressed on AT&T/T-Mobile staff report

President Obama's two new nominees for the FCC--Republican Ajit Vradaraj Pai and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel--were lauded at a Commerce Committee confirmation hearing Wednesday for their expertise in telecommunications policy. However, the nominees were also pressed on the hot-button communications issues of the day, not least of which was the FCC's decision to release this week a staff report that was highly critical of AT&T's (NYSE:T) proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA. The nominees tried to thread the needle in their answers and not say anything too incendiary. Rosenworcel said releasing the report was within FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's statutory authority but was "probably unprecedented." Pai said he would "view the discretion [of the FCC] as one that should be exercised very carefully" but added he wasn't briefed on the matter. Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Grassley (R.-Iowa) said he would continue to threaten to hold up a final Senate vote on the nominees unless the FCC releases more information on how it handled a conditional waiver it granted to LightSquared. Article

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