Acting FCC chief Michael Copps celebrated the 75th anniversary of both the FCC and the Communications Act of 1934 that birthed the agency. In a speech, Copps said, "How do we take this 75 year old agency, charged with implementing our formative communications law, and make sure it is up to the challenges of the 21st century? Born in the world of primitive radio sets, raised on plain old telephone service, now trying to manage high-speed broadband and orbiting satellites, can we make it an agency for all seasons? I'm glad you're thinking about this."
After that Copps kind of digs at Martin's feral grasp on the communications and free flow of information. (In other words, there was none).
I do think it's time for our agency to take a good hard look at our mission. Indeed, I think every independent agency ought to be required to do this. I have always believed that our government's independent regulatory agencies were set up to serve the public interest. But many of them, my own included, have sometimes strayed-- strayed pretty far -- from that purpose. At the FCC -- and I single out no specific regime or individual -- our processes over time have become opaque rather than transparent. Too often we spend our days refereeing disputes between powerful interests, with consumers and other non-traditional stakeholders pretty much left outside the loop of discussion and decision. Even the public record is difficult for the public to access.
The new Administration's Open Government Initiative is music to my ears and offers a wonderful opportunity to make this happen. At this 75th Anniversary, we should be revisiting the vows and obligations we took back at the beginning. What I'm talking about today is not rocket science. To a large degree, it's just having our goals clear in our mind, and then creating the process and management to achieve them in an open and transparent way. Or, as my old boss, the legendary Fritz Hollings, used to say: "On the way through life make this your goal--keep your eye on the doughnut and not the hole."
"...the Commission has just been charged with a truly important job. With enactment of the Stimulus bill, we are called upon by Congress and our new President to develop a national strategy to get high-speed, opportunity-creating broadband out to all our citizens. This is a very big deal -- the Commission has seldom if ever had a greater summons to action.... How we do on this will have a lot to do with how we fare in future years -- both the country and the Commission." [at least He gets this.]
We must start thinking more rigorously -- and I mean all of us -- about the profound impact of so much of our communications moving to the Internet in the years ahead. How to keep that Internet open and dynamic is an important part of this dialogue. But so is how to ensure that as the Internet becomes our primary vehicle for communicating with one another, it protects the public interest and informs the civic dialogue that America depends upon for its democracy? That's a huge question."