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easier to find reasons for rejecting than embracing."
- Samuel Johnson, The Rambler No. 39
DACA General (see all subjects)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Hysteria is the sincerest form of flattery...

A coalition of government-subsidized telephone companies has seen fit to attack the DACA universal service report and proposal. This is not surprising. Rent-seekers always protect their booty, even in the face of a moderate proposed reform like DACA.

We will turn to more substantive responses to the coalition's alarmism later, but it is rather remarkable that the rather august group of scholars we brought together could allegedly be so starkly misinformed and careless. In Mike Riordan and Simon Willkie, we have the participation of two former FCC Chief Economists. With Jerry Ellig, we have an eminent regulatory economist known for his work at the FTC and Mercatus, and Bob Crandall has few peers in analyzing regulatory economics. Dale Hatfield, meanwhile, is a rightful industry legend and former FCC Chief Technologist. Phil Weiser is incomparable in all ways, and decidedly moderate in his views on USF. Finally, the Roberts Atkinson, of PPI and CITI, respectively, have long reputations in the regulatory arena, with "Columbia Bob Atkinson" having been Deputy Bureau Chief at the FCC. I realize that arguments from authority are not dispositive, nor should they be, but I do submit that the DACA proposal brings serious intellectual firepower to the fore and offers a considered proposal to make universal service viable for the future.

The depressing part of all of this is the political reaction of the subsidized companies can be nothing but hysterical in the face of proposed reform. I cannot blame these companies for protecting their self-interest by continuing claims to subsidies, but their attempts to dress up their claim as anything more than Logic of Collective Action interest group rentseeking is unavailing.

posted by Ray Gifford @ 5:50 AM | DACA General

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

DACA Rolls Through Boulder, Colorado

The second conference of the Federal-State Framework Working Group of the Digital Age Communications Act (DACA) project offered familiar reactions to our proposal, as well as some new ones. Speakers at yesterday's conference, hosted by the University of Colorado's Silicon Flatirons Telecommunications Program, displayed a rough consensus that the current allocation of responsibility among communications regulators should be adapted to the rapid evolution of the Internet era. Likewise, speakers generally agreed with the Working Group's report -- co-authored by reigning dean of "cooperative federalism" Phil Weiser -- in insisting regulators at all levels must not impede the competition, investment and innovation made possible by digital technologies.

Beyond that common ground, however, speakers' views diverged, generally echoing significant disagreements that erupted during the Working Group's deliberations. Without restating those here, a few observations of the conference are in order.

Continue reading DACA Rolls Through Boulder, Colorado . . .

posted by Kyle Dixon @ 8:35 PM | DACA General, Federal/State Framework

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Friday, September 16, 2005

Long Live Public Interest Regulation! Some Initial Thoughts Regarding the Broadband Video Provisions of the House Telecom Act Discussion Draft

The House of Representatives' Energy & Commerce Committee released draft legislation yesterday aimed a cleaning up the nation's telecom and cable laws. A revision of the Telecom Act of 1996 has been in the works for some time and is very much needed, so most parties welcomed this news.

Here at PFF, of course, we've been working hard with a group of respected academics and experts to provide a new framework for communications policy reform. That project is called "DACA," which stands for Digital Age Communications Act.

One thing we largely left out of DACA effort was any in-depth discussion of video regulation. That is, the extensive "public interest" regulatory regime that currently covers the broadcast sector and to some extent cable and satellite services. There were several reasons we left it out of the DACA project; most importantly, we simply felt that most of these rules could easily be sunset in light of growing competition in the multi-channel video marketplace and the media universe more broadly. Under our DACA framework, any "market power" problems that might develop in the future video / media marketplace would be handled with simple competition policy principles borrowed from antitrust law.

So Much for "Hands Off the Net"
Unfortunately, after looking through the House Commerce Cmmt. draft legislation last night, I realize that not everyone shares our opinion about the growing media market competition alleviating the need for extensive "public interest" regulation of the video marketplace. Specifically, Sec. 304 of the bill (which begins on pg. 41 of the discussion draft) is entitled "Application of Video Regulations to Broadband Service Providers." Section A which immediately follows is appropriately labeled "Comparable Requirements and Obligations," and then goes on to not how "each of the following provisions of the 1934 [Communications] Act, and the regulations under each such provision, that apply to a cable operator shall apply to a broadband service provider under this title in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Commission..."

Continue reading Long Live Public Interest Regulation! Some Initial Thoughts Regarding the Broadband Video Provisions of the House Telecom Act Discussion Draft . . .

posted by Adam Thierer @ 11:37 AM | DACA General

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Why DACA Blog?

When Doug Sicker (note: picture in link not representative of current hair length) recommended that we beging a wiki or a blog to continue the discussion of our DACA Regulatory Framework Working Group Report, the reaction at PFF was something like: "Oh no, you guys aren't going start another blog are you?"

Well, we are.

But this one will be a bit different. First, we opted for a blog over a wiki. Not only did we already have Movable Type ready to go, we thought that the term "blog" incited slightly less giggling than "wiki." Given these are serious issues, we opted for the lower giggle factor. Second, this will be a group blog, with all participants of the various Working Groups able to post. We will also, for the time being, enable the comment feature here, with the hope that we get some virtuous feedback loops going. We reserve the right to shut comments off in case we are overwhelmed by comment spam, or if the comments take on an uncivil or unhelpful tone.

The reason for the blog is to further explain, discuss, elucidate and generally argue about the provisions in the respective Working Group reports. Since we released the initial framework report, I have found myself in many very similar discussions explaining why the group made the choices it did; where the close calls were; and where disagreements remain. Also, I have found that the FTC model the Working Group endorsed is quite foreign to the understanding of communications lawyers. Accordingly, I hope that the various members of the Working Group can explain how we anticipate our recommended model to work.

Finally, we entitled our Working Group Report "Release 1.0". We take seriously that our proposal is a first draft, and through the workshop a few weeks ago, as well as the discussion on this blog, we hope to refine and make a better Digital Age Communications Act.

With that, let me declare this blog open for posting.

posted by Ray Gifford @ 2:30 PM | DACA General

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DACA Rolls Through Boulder, Colorado
Long Live Public Interest Regulation! Some Initial Thoughts Regarding the Broadband Video Provisions of the House Telecom Act Discussion Draft
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