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Statement on the Nomination of Julius Genachowski to Be Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission

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Washington, D.C., January 13, 2009—If Mr. Genachowski recognizes the private sector’s primacy in expanding consumer options and the harm and confusion created by central regulation of communications, and stands ready to roll back the unnecessary influence of the FCC on the burgeoning choices of consumers, he’ll prove to be a good choice. We would not likely create an FCC today if it didn’t exist. Much of the oversight the agency imposes could be transferred to markets, or eliminated; or in the final analysis left with a general regulator like the Federal Trade Commission.

–for more, see the CEI report Communications Without Commissions

To the extent Mr. Genachowski perpetuates unnecessary governmental roles in communications and speech, or extends the agency's reach to new turf, he is a bad choice. 

As an architect of the Obama technology agenda and from news reports about the appointment, one can infer some stances that are worrisome. 

He seemingly supports net neutrality regulation.  Regulating neutrality, which is more of an engineering principle than a political one, would artificially pit content and infrastructure companies against one another. This and other unintended consequences of neutrality regulation could hamper the development of future infrastructure. The FCC should allow the openness of a network to be decided in the free marketplace, while fostering greater competition through deregulation. Rather than favoring any particular business model, government should be rolling back franchise agreements and reforming spectrum allocation rules so that the market has greater competition, not more regulation.

–for more, see Wayne’s comments to FCC on the choice between net neutrality and “bandwealth.” 

He seemingly supports media ownership restrictions. In a society that enshrines First Amendment free-speech guarantees, somehow regarding it as valid to “restrict” media – the very watchdog of government power – is ironic to say the least. A free society centers around open debate – government regulating how loud a given voice in that debate can be is an abomination. As long as our government isn’t practicing censorship, the very best way for fresh, new and controversial ideas to reach audiences is to leave all media outlets – from the conglomerates to the podcasters – alone. Advertisers, competitors, investors, the next new communications technology and much more are all arrayed against “big media,” to much greater effect than the FCC.

–for more, see Wayne’s Communications Lawyer article “A Defense of Media Monopoly” 

He seemingly supports government investment in broadband.  Apart from the distortionary and bubble-prone aspects of such a policy, the proper approach to expanding all infrastructure is to tear down the artificial walls between all our great network industries (cable, telecom, electric power, water, sewer, rail, etc.) so that they can establish joint ventures to actually close the digital divide. In addition, freeing up spectrum markets is an important job for rural access.

–for more, see Wayne’s comment on wealth-creating alternatives to “infrastructure stimulus.”

 

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website at www.cei.org.