Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held its kick-off hearing on a potential update of our nation’s communications laws with no less than four former FCC Chairmen.  As was appropriate, the hearing did not focus on specific items for change, but rather facilitated an excellent discussion of broad themes on how Congress should approach the complex task ahead.  I commend the Committee for holding this discussion, because it is very important, in the words of Congressman John Dingell, for Congress to “legislate properly” in order to minimize the inevitable unintended consequences.  Indeed, while Congress has had its share of legislative successes in the …
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Two weeks ago, the Federal Communications Commission released its Fifteenth Report on the assessment of competition in the market for the delivery of video programming.  As both George and I were members of the core team of FCC staffers who wrote the very First Cable Report (and its insightful Appendix H) way back in 1995, I could not help but marvel at the growth and development of the industry over the last eighteen years. Of particular note to me were the FCC’s findings that not only do nearly 131 million (approximately 99%) of American homes have access to three multichannel video programming distributors or “MVPDs” …
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What is the effect of regulation on investment?  At a high level of abstraction, it is impossible to say.  Rate-of-return regulation, for example, is criticized by economists for possibly encouraging too much investment—a principle known as the Averch-Johnson Effect.  On the other hand, if a firm fears that the regulator will alter the rules in a way that reduces the ability to earn profits on large, long-term capital investments, then the incentive to make such investments is reduced.  Importantly, the issue is not, as some claim, just about “regulatory uncertainty.”  There could be great uncertainty about future rule changes, but if the expectation is that …
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One of the major stories that came out of CES last week was (in the words of the Wall Street Journal) the “flood” of new Internet content and mobile devices reaching consumers’ living rooms.  In fact, this has been the story coming out of CES for the past few years.  Given such developments, it continues to puzzle me not only that the FCC refuses to announce, at least formally, that it intends to drop its ill-conceived AllVid paradigm, but that it also refuses to announce that it intends to seek to sunset Section 629 of the Communications Act altogether. By way of quick background, Section …
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