Competitive Enterprise Institute | 1899 L ST NW Floor 12, Washington, DC 20036 | Phone: 202-331-1010 | Fax: 202-331-0640
Washington, D.C., November 27, 2007—The Federal Communications Commission's potential enlargement of its power is a giant step backward for the entire communications realm, not just cable. Chairman Kevin Martin's job is to safeguard and enlarge economic liberty in the communications sector. His – or someone else’s – leadership is needed to roll back outmoded, pre-satellite, pre-Internet era dictates, and abandon the obsession with arbitrary percentages and thresholds. The desperately needed leadership task is to replace archaic political discipline by paving the way for greater market-driven competitive discipline.
That means the FCC's only remaining role in today's era is establishing and liberalizing markets in spectrum; otherwise, hands off. Ironically these constant bureaucratic interferences in the communications market by a grasping, increasingly irrelevant FCC are the macro version of what constant interruptions are to normal face-to-face conversation.
There's something perverse in waiting until cable is widely available, with competitors arrayed against it, and massive infrastructure projects underway, before exploiting decades-old legislative provisions that conveniently perpetuate Washington's ability to officiate and meddle. This episode says more about the phenomenon of bureaucracy than it does about the marketplace. Bureaucratic nostalgia for a past era of importance cannot legitimately drive public policy. The FCC may not relent on this and other initiatives; the congressmen who oppose the agency's non-market endeavors may need to revisit the authority they've given the agency.
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