In a new Perspectives from FSF Scholars, Seth Cooper, Research Fellow at the Free State Foundation, proposed policymakers free up today's dynamic telecommunications market by reforming state regulatory reviews of telecom carrier mergers. In "Multiple Government Regulators Burden Telecom Mergers with Too Many Conditions," Cooper maintains that "[t]he existing multi-level, multi-agency telecommunications merger review process involves costly, time-consuming, redundant reviews by federal and state regulators. And it often results in merging carriers being subjected to numerous approval conditions that are unrelated to specific harms posed by such mergers." Read the entire December 23, 2010 news release.
The December 21, 2010, National Review Online published an essay by Free State Foundation President Randolph J. May entitled, "FCC Regulators Turn their Eyes to the Internet." May discussed the proposed FCC action to regulate Internet providers "in the name of so-called net neutrality." May states, "The nub of the problem with what the FCC is poised to do can be neatly summed up this way: The commission is acting on dubious legal authority, in the face of widespread and bipartisan opposition, to adopt a new Internet regulatory regime to 'fix' a problem that doesn't exist. Indeed, at least up to now, no one, not even the FCC, has suggested that there is any present market failure of consumer harm resulting from the absence of net-neutrality mandates." Read the entire article here.
Register now for Free State Foundation's Third Annual Winter Telecom Policy Conference. FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker will deliver a keynote address at the February 4, 2011, conference at the National Press Club. Other outstanding speakers will discuss and debate communications policy issues, including net neutrality, and broadband and spectrum policy.
The video from the Free State Foundation's October 12, 2010 seminar entitled, "Looking Forward: Will Congress Establish Broadband Policy?", is now available here. The seminar featured top congressional staff members from both parties and from both the House of Representatives and the Senate Commerce Committees discussing broadband policy and net neutrality, spectrum policy, universal reform, and other communications policy issues.
In a Perspectives from FSF Scholars paper released today, former FCC Commissioner Glen O. Robinson decries on both legal and policy grounds the FCC's "Third Way" rulemaking proposal to regulate broadband Internet providers. Professor Robinson declares in "The Middle Way to Internet Regulation" that "if this new middle way seems moderate, that appearance is an illusion." According to Robinson, while it is true that the FCC has forbearance authority, "Congress gave the FCC that authority for the purpose of eliminating existing regulations that were no longer needed." But, instead, the FCC’s current proposal, "invokes forbearance authority not as a means of removing old regulations but as a means of affirmatively engineering new ones." In this regard, "the Commission’s approach resembles its use of ancillary jurisdiction in that it involves selective use of various Communications Act provisions to achieve some particular regulatory outcome that is not part of the statutory design." Professor Robinson, a member of the Free State Foundation's Board of Academic Advisors, served as a Commissioner at the FCC from 1974-1976. He is Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Virginia. Read the whole September 13, 2010 news release.
On September 7, 2010, Free State Foundation President Randolph May announced that Seth Cooper joined FSF as a full-time Research Fellow. May said: "I am very pleased that Seth has joined FSF on a full-time basis. Seth brings to his new position a wealth of knowledge and experience in communications and high-tech policy issues, as well as expertise on various state policy issues." Cooper, a graduate of Seattle University of Law, and previously an FSF Adjunct Fellow, stated: "The next several years will be very important ones with respect to the development of sound communications policy and other public policies. I can't think of a better place to help shape such policies in ways consistent with my principles than FSF." Read the whole September 7, 2010 press release.
Free State Foundation President Randolph May applauded FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's decision to seek further comment in the FCC's Open Internet proceeding. May said there is no urgent need to act on Chairman Genachowski's "Third Way" proposal, and delaying action allows for the solicitation of additional input that will help clarify issues related to specialized services and wireless platforms. Read the whole September 1, 2010 media advisory.
The FCC should treat Internet service providers as "information services" rather than common carriers, Free State Foundation President Randolph May and FSF Adjunct Fellow Seth Cooper argued in comments filed with the FCC on July 15, 2010 in the agency's net neutrality proceeding. According to May and Cooper: "Rather than pursue a mistaken course by subjecting Internet providers to common carrier regulation, the Commission should continue to treat broadband Internet services as minimally regulated 'information services.'The Commission's 'Third Way' proposal would be harmful to broadband innovation and investment, and, lacking evidence of market failure or any pattern of consumer abuse, it makes no sense in today's dynamic competitive market to go backwards." The comments concluded: "If the Commission determines that, in its view, there needs to be some agency authority over broadband ISPs, it should work with Congress to pass a new, narrowly-circumscribed legislative framework.As a majority of U.S. House members recognize, it is preferable for Congress to enact legislation granting such express authority rather than have the Commission impose a reclassification plan so fraught with problems." Read the whole July 15, 2010 media advisory.
In comments filed on June 21, 2010 on the FCC's review of the Comcast-NBCU joint venture, Free State Foundation President Randolph May and FSF Adjunct Fellow Seth Cooper caution the FCC to consider the merger within the context of a rapidly-changing media market that offers competition from sources that did not exist even half a decade ago. In the comments, May and Cooper stated: "This transaction is primarily a 'vertical' integration, combining NBCU programming assets with Comcast distribution assets. The potential competitive concerns raised by vertical integrations are almost always much less than those raised by horizontal ones. This is true in this instance because the applicants largely operate in separate markets. To the extent there are any legitimate competitive concerns, any conditions imposed to address them should be narrowly drawn so as not to lose the benefit to consumers of the intended pro-competitive efficiencies." The FSF comments remind the Commission that the merger review process must comport with sound principles of administrative law and fairness to the parties. Read the whole June 21, 2010 media advisory.
In the sixteenth paper in this year's series of Perspectives from FSF Scholars, Dennis Weisman, a member of the Free State Foundation's Board of Academic Advisors and Professor of Economics at Kansas State University, questions whether FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's "Third Way" proposal is more like Goldilocks or the Big Bad Wolf. In the end, he concludes "this may well be a distinction without a difference because, in this instance, even Goldilocks would appear to have some very big teeth!" Professor Weisman's critical analysis of Chairman Genachowski's proposal is grounded in the principle that: "In a market economy, the policy default is not economic regulation, but rather reliance upon the market for providing the requisite competitive discipline.Regulatory intervention is warranted only in the case of a non-transitory market failure and then only when the expected benefits of regulation exceed the costs."In his Perspectives paper, The "Third Way" for Broadband Regulation: Goldilocks or the Big Bad Wolf?, Professor Weisman concludes: "In the case of broadband regulation, neither of these two preconditions has been met." Read the full press release here.
On Tuesday, June 1, 2010, the Free State Foundation and the Information Technology and Information are jointly presenting a program, "After Comcast: What's Net for Net Neutrality?" The program will be from 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM at ITIF's offices located 1101 K Street, Nw, Suite 610, Washington, DC. Featured speakers include: Richard Bennett, Research Fellow, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation;James Cicconi, Senior Executive Vice President, External and Legislative Affairs, AT&T;Eric Klinker, Chief Executive Officer, BitTorrent;Randolph May, President, Free State Foundation;James Speta, Professor, Northwestern University School of Law; and Steven Teplitz, Senior Vice President, Government Relations, Time Warner Cable. All the event details are here.
Free State Foundation Distinguished Adjunct Senior Fellow Deborah Taylor Tate participated in the First Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit in Dallas sponsored by the East West Institute. The Summit aimed to mobilize new levels of attention to the international policy dimensions of cybersecurity, both for the private sector and governments. Discussions at the Summit, both in public and private, confirmed that there are large gaps in global arrangements to promote discreet aspects of cybersecurity, especially where important countries like China and Russia are concerned. For the letter from the director of the EWI's Worldwide Cybersecurity Initiative commending Ms. Tate, a former member of the FCC, on the leadership role she played at the summit, click here.
Free State Foundation President Randolph May argued against continued government funding of public media at an FCC hearing on April 30, 2010. He stated: "Whatever the merits of government funding for public broadcasting in 1967 when Congress enacted the Public Broadcasting Act to address certain perceived media 'market failures,' today's media marketplace is characterized by an abundance and diversity of media sources. This fact calls into question the need for such continued funding. When the government funds 'public media,' inevitably a tension arises between the government's involvement in content and programming decisions and First Amendment values that are at the core of our republic." The full press release is here.
Deborah Taylor Tate, Distinguished Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Free State Foundation, has been named to the Board of Directors of the Centerstone Research Institute (CRI). Centerstone is a unique not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving mental healthcare through research, information technology and clinical informatics. Tate is a former member of the Federal Communications Commission as well as a former Chairman of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority. The press release announcing Tate's appointment to the CRI Board is here.
In reply comments submitted today to the Federal Communications Commission, Randolph May, President of the Free State Foundation, and Seth Cooper, FSF Adjunct Fellow, urged the agency "to adopt a set of market-oriented analytical framework principles to govern consideration of special access issues consistent with a forward-looking perspective that reflects the dynamism of today's communications marketplace." Read the full press release here.
In a new Perspectives from FSF Scholars, Richard Epstein, one of the nation's foremost law and economic scholars, explains why a critic of the Comcast - NBCU merger has his analysis upside down. Professor Epstein explains why Mark Cooper, Director of Research for the Consumer Federation of America, "is not able to perform a minor intellectual miracle of having an upside down antitrust analysis saved by a topsy-turvy First Amendment analysis. Professor Epstein is Free State Foundation Distinguished Adjunct Senior Scholar. Read Professor Epstein's Perspectiveshere.
At the Free State Foundation's Annual Winter Telecom Policy Conference on January 29, 2010, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell gave a stirring opening keynote address which effectively made the case, backed up by lots of facts and figures, for regulatory modesty with respect to the FCC's broadband plan and the agency's proposal for new Internet regulation. Read the full text of "The Best Broadband Plan for America: First, Do No Harm"here.
Free State Foundation President Randolph May has released the agenda for FSF's Annual Winter Telecom Policy Conference. The news release is here, and the conference agenda is here.
Randolph May, President of the Free State Foundation, has an essay on National Review Online opposing the Federal Communications Commission's proposal to implement net neutrality regulation. Read "Overregulating the Internet" here.
Free State Foundation President Randolph May and Adjunct Fellow Seth Cooper filed comments at the Federal Communications Commission on January 14, 2010, opposing the agency's proposal to adopt new Internet regulations.
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