| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Nov 21 U.S. President-elect Donald
Trump's choice of experts to focus on new policies at the
Federal Communications Commission signals a regime that will
have a "lighter" touch on regulation and be more likely to favor
large mergers in telecoms industries, analysts said.
Economist Jeff Eisenach and former Sprint Corp
lobbyist Mark Jamison were named by Trump's transition team to
oversee hiring and policy for the FCC. They both oppose some
recent telecom industry regulations resisted by telecom and
cable heavyweights such as Comcast Corp and AT&T Inc
and have voiced support for mega mergers in the past.
The FCC is composed of five commissioners, including one
designated as chairman, who are appointed by the president and
confirmed by the Senate. Only three commissioners can be from
the same political party and Trump's pick for FCC chairman would
tip the balance in favor of Republicans.
The addition of Eisenach and Jamison to Trump's "landing
team" on Monday come as the Republican president-elect puts
together a team to staff various government departments and
agencies after he succeeds Democratic President Barack Obama on
The two appointments are harbingers of "a more typical
Republican FCC that is lighter on regulation and more focused on
competition," said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics.
"The focus will be more on reducing regulation than creating new
That would be in stark contrast to the Obama
administration's FCC that enacted or proposed a handful of new
industry rules and disapproved some proposed combinations,
including Comcast's bid for Time Warner Cable and AT&T's attempt
to buy T-Mobile.
The FCC under Chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, has had a
rocky relationship with large telecom companies, some of which
strongly opposed the agency's 2015 net neutrality or open
The rules, which require internet service providers to treat
all data equally and bar them from obstructing or slowing down
consumer access to web content, were seen as a major victory for
internet businesses like Alphabet Inc's Google that
offer services but do not own internet networks.
Eisenach has supported mergers such as AT&T and T-Mobile as
well as Sprint and T-Mobile that were dismissed by regulators
during Obama's administration, according to analysts. He is
known in telecom circles for having a "pro-business" mindset,
New Street Research analyst Spencer Kurn said.
"Whoever gets picked (as FCC chairman) is likely going to
implement a similar pro-business policy," Kurn said.
Eisenach, who was previously tapped by the Trump campaign as
an adviser on technology and telecom policy, is currently a
managing director at consulting firm NERA Economic Consulting's
communications, media and internet practice. He previously held
advisory roles at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the
White House Office of Management and Budget.
In 2014, he testified in the U.S. Senate against net
neutrality rules, arguing there was no need for new regulation
as existing antitrust rules, while "not perfect," offered
safeguards against concerns about the business practices of
internet service providers.
Jamison is the director of the Public Utility Research
Center at the University of Florida. Like Eisenach, he has
strongly disagreed in his publications with Wheeler's rules,
including net neutrality and a proposal to open up the market
for rented pay-TV set-top boxes.
That measure was aimed at breaking the telecom and cable
companies' grip on the $20 billion market and bringing in
players such as Google and Apple in an effort to lower
prices for consumers.
Some analysts said the appointments also raised questions
over whether Trump would carry out his campaign pledge to kill
AT&T's $85.4 billion proposal to buy Time Warner.
Matt Wood, policy director of the technology rights group
Free Press, said that even as Trump opposes the deal, he picked
the pro-business economist Eisenach, who was unlikely to want to
block such a merger.
(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Additional reporting by Diane
Bartz in Washington; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Peter Cooney)