FCC Chairman Powell to Step Down

WASHINGTON, D.C. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell plans to resign today, an FCC representative confirmed this morning.

Powell, 41, a Republican, has been at the FCC since 1997, the last four years as chairman. His term expires in 2007, but there has been widespread speculation he would move on following President Bush’s second inauguration, an event that took place yesterday.

Powell’s tenure has been marked by pushes to deregulate the telecommunications and media industries, as well as fights over issues of on-air decency with the likes of shock jock Howard Stern.

Just a week ago, Powell ordered investigations of potential violations of the federal payola and sponsorship laws. One of those probes will focus on commentator Armstrong Williams, who has generated controversy for accepting money from the U.S. Department of Education to promote the Bush administration’s education program [Adweek Online, Jan. 14].

Powell is the son of departing Secretary of State Colin Powell.