The announcement from the new administration has been expected for some time. Former FCC Chairman William Kennard's resignation was made final Friday, and Washington rumor had given Powell top odds for the successor's slot for the past several weeks.
President George W. Bush named Powell as Kennard's successor Monday in one of the first official acts of his new administration.
Powell has been among the most conservative members of the five-person FCC board in the last year. But he has not mirrored the unyielding positions of GOP colleague Harold Furchtgott-Roth, choosing instead to broker market-focused compromises with his more liberal peers.
"I am deeply honored and privileged to have received President Bush's designation," Powell said in a statement. "I look forward to working with the new administration, Congress, my fellow commissioners and the very talented FCC staff on the important and challenging communications issues facing our nation."
He has dissented from majority votes in several high-profile rulings, including the recent decision to force America Online to make its popular instant messaging software work with competing products and services from other companies.
"The Commission mandates that AOL Time Warner must offer interoperability for a product that does not as yet exist," Powell said then. "When a regulatory agency has to make up its own acronym to describe the product or service it intends to regulate, one should be concerned," he said, referring to the FCC's condition on what it called "advanced, IM-based high-speed services," or AIHS.
"In my opinion, this is one of President Bush's best--and most exciting--selections for his new administration," Tauzin said in a statement Monday. "For years, watching the FCC work has been like watching an old black-and-white movie. But now, with Michael Powell in charge, get ready for an FCC broadcast in HDTV."