12/11/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama's FCC Chair: Inside The Short List

President-elect Barack Obama may stand for change, but he's turned to some powerful Washington insiders to help him staff the nation's top communications regulator, the Federal Communications Commission.

Picking the FCC chairman may not be the top priority for the Obama transition team, which is focused on naming a Treasury secretary tasked with ending the economic crisis, and appointing foreign policy leaders who will need to navigate two wars and other pressing diplomatic issues. Still, the Obama Administration will need to put some emphasis on finding a deft leader to head up the agency responsible for regulating TV, radio, and other telecommunications services. The new Administration is expected to give greater prominence to emerging providers of communications products and services, such as Google (GOOG)--a departure from the Bush Administration, which has tended to favor traditional providers such as AT&T (T).

In making the choice, the Obama team is considering appointing the first African American woman to the post, while it also fields recommendations from advisers who served in the FCC under President Bill Clinton. Heading up the selection process is Henry Rivera, partner at Washington law firm Wiley Rein. Headed by former FCC Chairman Richard Wiley, Wiley Rein has represented such companies as AT&T, Verizon Communications (VZ), Viacom (VIA), Motorola (MOT), and Sirius Satellite Radio (SIRI).

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