Trump may appoint Pence Ally and telecom deregulator to FCC

Agency likely to roll back net neutrality rules

A former ally of Vice President-elect Mike Pence with a strong focus on deregulation could be in line for an appointment to the Federal Communications Commission, possibly as the next chairman.

Brandt Hershman, a longtime Indiana state senator, is rumored to be the leading candidate for an opening on the agency, which oversees the telecommunications, broadcasting, and cable industries, Politico reported citing unnamed sources. Hershman worked closely with the vice president-elect after Pence was elected Indiana’s governor in 2012.

Fortune contacted Hershman’s office for comment and will update this story if a response is received.

Hershman, the senate majority floor leader, authored a massive law to deregulate telecommunications in Indiana a decade ago. The bill ended government regulation of phone rates, freed up cable companies from needing to get dozens of local licenses to offer service, and stopped cities and towns from setting up their own municipal broadband services.

The FCC under chairman Tom Wheeler, appointed by President Obama, has pressed several major regulatory initiatives, including net neutrality rules to prevent Internet providers from blocking or charging more for access to any web site or online service. Wheeler also pushed online privacy rules that apply to Internet service providers. The chairman dropped his efforts to break the cable industry’s set top box monopoly, however.

Analysts expect an FCC run by a Trump appointee would roll back those rules, which have been opposed by Republicans in Congress and major communications companies. The president’s party typically occupies three of the commission’s five seats, and the president designates one member as chairman. Trump could name a new appointee such as Hershman chairman or possibly designate current Republican FCC member Ajit Pai as chairman. (READ MORE)

Source: http://fortune.com/

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