The Right Wavelength

UMBC professor Tim Brennan appointed chief economist of the FCC.

Public policy and economics professor Tim Brennan has had a distinguished career as an educator, researcher and expert on communications and media. Now, thanks to his scholarship and experience disentangling complex telecommunications issues, he has been called on to serve as chief economist for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Brennan has been an economist with the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division and senior economist for the White House Council of Economic Advisors. He has also served as a staff consultant to the Federal Trade Commission, advised on competition law internationally, and received the Distinguished Service Award last year from the Public Utility Research Center.

“I am very pleased that Tim Brennan has agreed to join the Commission as our chief economist,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a news release. “His long and distinguished consideration of regulation, competition, and monopoly issues will enable him to contribute immediately and materially to our work.”

Brennan’s research has focused on antitrust, copyright, telecommunications, media policy, electricity markets, and related fields. He is also a senior fellow with Resources for the Future, a nonprofit social science research organization that seeks to improve global policymaking on environmental and natural resource issues.

As FCC chief economist, Brennan will work closely with Chairman Wheeler and will serve as an advisor and provide support for all FCC members and staff. “I expect to learn a lot, and it is an honor,” says Brennan.

The FCC deals with a range of complex issues, including industry mergers, subsidy programs and technology transition. The Commission has a number of leading economists on staff, but has also brought in scholars from academia for several years to provide outside perspectives and essential advice on challenging issues. Previous chief economists include Steven Wildman from Michigan State University and Marius Schwartz from Georgetown University.

Brennan’s background and experience will enable him to make significant contributions, and Chairman Wheeler says he brings “a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Commission.”

The chief economist position is housed in the Office of Strategic Planning at the FCC. Brennan will work full-time at the agency for at least seven months.