Michael Powell and Washington’s Revolving Door Problem

Have you ever wondered what happened to former FCC Chairman and broadcast industry deregulation evangelist Michael Powell since he left “public service?” Well, wonder no more, Powell has found his way into the very lucrative role of president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

“Cable is a dynamic and highly innovative industry, providing cutting edge services and content that Americans love,” Powell said in a statement. “The broadband platform the industry has deployed is a critical part of the infrastructure needed to realize our national ambition to be a great nation in the Information Age.”

Powell is currently a senior adviser with Providence Equity Partners and honorary co-chair of Broadband for America, a coalition of 300 companies and groups that has been critical of the FCC’s net neutrality rules.

Net neutrality advocates saw Powell’s appointment as a sign that cable is committed to fighting the open Internet rules.

“If you wonder why common sense, public interest policies never see the light of day in Washington, look no further than the furiously spinning revolving door between industry and the FCC,” said Craig Aaron, managing director of Free Press, in a statement. “Former chairman Michael Powell is the natural choice to lead the nation’s most powerful cable lobby, having looked out for the interests of companies like Comcast and Time Warner during his tenure at the commission and having already served as a figurehead for the industry front group Broadband for America.”

“During his time as a public servant,” Aaron continued, “Chairman Powell once dismissed the notion of a digital divide as no different from the Mercedes divide that afflicted him — after all, he said, not everyone who wants a Mercedes can have one.”

This can’t possibly be a good thing for American public. With the announcement yesterday that AT&T will be imposing bandwidth caps on it’s customers there is sure to be a heated debate in Washington over the legality of this practice. We can now be assured that Mr. Powell will use his considerable influence to put cable and telecom corporations ahead of average Americans in this debate.

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