Federal Communications Commissioner Robert McDowell, who was seen as a free-market advocate and friend to the media industry and a foil to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, announced he is leaving the regulatory agency in the next few weeks.
A Republican, McDowell has been at the FCC for almost seven years and was seen as a potential chairman if Mitt Romney had won the White House in November. McDowell did not say what his future plans are.
McDowell often disagreed with Genachowski on how to best regulate the media industry. Most recently, McDowell advocated gutting rules that prohibit common ownership of newspapers and television stations. Genachowski has advocated a more conservative relaxation that would keep some form of the rules in place. He also expressed concern about net neutrality regulations.
Among those praising McDowell's service was the National Assn. of Broadcasters and the entertainment giant Comcast Corp.
"Commissioner McDowell’s tireless efforts to promote a free and unregulated Internet, reform Universal Service and keep the U.S. at the forefront of international telecommunications policy are just a few of his many notable accomplishments," said Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen.