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WMC Co-Founders Express Disappointment Over Reports White House Didn’t Nominate Woman to FCC Chair

April 30, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Women’s Media Center Co-Founders Express Disappointment Over
Reports That President Obama Didn’t Nominate a Woman to Chair the FCC

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Barack Obama is expected to nominate Tom Wheeler as the next FCC chair, according to multiple news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal.

Co-founders of the Women’s Media Center today issued this release in response to published reports:

The Women’s Media Center co-founders today expressed disappointment that the president did not nominate a woman to serve as chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The federal agency has never had a female in the top spot in its 79-year-history.

On January 4, the Women’s Media Center began a campaign to urge the White House to name a woman to head the governmental agency by launching a Change.org petition. On March 22, the Women’s Media Center and over two dozen women's leaders sent a letter to the White House asking President Barack Obama to nominate a woman to run this important agency. WMC co-founders, Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem also wrote an op-ed published on CNN.com, titled “Obama, put a woman in charge of FCC.” The FCC chair position became available when Julius Genachowski announced he was stepping down.

“We regret that President Obama did not recognize the need for a woman leader in this important FCC chair slot, though there were a number of highly qualified women under consideration,” said Fonda.

“Telecommunications policy affects everyone — not just men,” said Morgan. “It’s disheartening to see the cycle of male chairs continuing.”

“The president missed an opportunity to make history and make the FCC more democratic,” said Gloria Steinem.

A number of women reportedly were considered for the position, including Karen Kornbluh, who served as Obama’s ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development; Mignon Clyburn, senior FCC commissioner; Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC commissioner, and Catherine J.K. Sandoval, a member of the California Public Utilities Commission.

The FCC chair oversees the country’s telecommunication media policies. “This wasn’t just about having more women in positions of leadership within the federal government,” said Steinem. “It was about who owns the media. And right now, that’s mostly men. That needs to change.”

According to the FCC, women own less than 7 percent of all broadcast licenses. Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center, said that it would have been an important step to nominate a woman as FCC chair.

“The head of the FCC should more closely resemble America, which is 51 percent female,” said Burton. “We know that if you own the airwaves, you own the messages on those airwaves.”

The Women's Media Center works to make women and girls visible and powerful in the media through strategic programs that transform the media landscape, and that include media training, media monitoring and activism,  media reports, media programs, and special initiatives.  The Women’s Media Center also produces original media content on our CBS radio show, “Women’s Media Center with Robin Morgan,” and publishes Women’s Media Center Features that provide progressive women’s perspectives on both headline stories and timely events.