Tag Archives: Drew Clark

General Conference, A Religious Holiday for Mormons

October 5, 2013 – Saturday marked the beginning of another Semiannual General Conference for Mormons, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints occasionally refer to themselves.

This remarkable gathering in Salt Lake City is what makes me regard Conference Weekend as a “religious holiday” among Mormons. It takes place the first Sunday in October and in April, and you’ve probably never heard about it. They are special days, but a special day that is celebrated in a very matter-of-fact Latter-day Saint way.

Basically, we sit around in front of our televisions in our houses all day and listen to 10 hours of talks. The speeches are generously interspersed with hymns from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and two other choirs that since in the Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening priesthood session.

This General Conference marks the first time my immediate family and I have been out here in Utah. But while I might have trekked up to Salt Lake City and participated in person this year, I instead chose to watch it in the comfort of my living room with my daughter, my son and my wife. In the evening, my son and I put on white shirts and ties and travelled a few blocks to our “Stake Center.” (Think of a stake as a kind of diocese with parishes.) At the Stake Center, the brethren in each local community watch a satellite transmission from church headquarters.

This year, we could just as well have stayed at home for the priesthood session, too. This was the first year that the leaders of the church allowed the men-and-boys-only session to be broadcast. That’s one point for openness. But church leaders also refused admission to about 150 women who had sought to enter the Conference Center and watch the session in person. That decision shows the strictness and traditionalist side of our Mormon culture.

But among the talks given Saturday, by Elder Todd Christofferson, by Sister Carole Stephens, by Jeffrey Holland, and by President Dieter Uchtdorf (Second Counselor in the First Presidency), we saw the compassionate and tender side of our faith. Uchdtorf’s remarks made The New York Times, at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/us/a-top-mormon-leader-acknowledges-the-church-made-mistakes.html. And, as Elder Robert Hales noted in his remarks, no leader or central committee instructs the men and women who speak at conference on what topics they should address. Rather, they rely on their own guidance from inspiration and prayer.

This opportunity to hear from living Apostles and Prophets is what makes General Conference weekend such a special occasion for my family. And we look forward to Sunday, too!

Meditations on the Modern Mormon Pioneer, Where ‘The Desert Shall Rejoice, and Blossom As The Rose’

September 29, 2013 – During our Sunday worship these past several Sunday School sessions, we’ve been studying the history of our church. Two weeks ago, the subject was the Latter-day Saints entry into the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847. Last week, we talked about the saints who, in October 1856, left to rescue the two handcart companies stranded on the Wyoming plains during an early-season snowstorm. And today we talked about how, in the words of the prophet from ancient Israel in Isaiah 35:1, “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”

These lessons have spoken to us in our circumstances right now. In the 25 years of my career in journalism, law and technology, Utah was the last place that I expected we would locate ourselves. And yet, early last month, my family and I, and our dog Pokey, packed up and made our own Great Trek back to the land of my ancestors.

We spent the last three and a half years of our lives in Springfield, Illinois. There, I had a wonderful opportunity to lead a state effort designed to enhance the role of technology’s power to make an impact in people’s lives. I believe in Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s personal motto, “everybody in, and nobody left out.” At Broadband Illinois, we helped unite the Land of Lincoln around a vision of Better Broadband, Better Lives. Illinois’ State Broadband Initiative became the national model for public-private collaboration — providing the tools that citizens, communities and businesses need to get online and to get more out of their internet use.

Having lived in Washington for most of my professional career, the opportunity to get outside of the beltway was important for our progress. Although I’ve commuted back to Washington to participate in our monthly Broadband Breakfast Club discussions, it has been a real plus for my family to be outside the pressure cooker of McLean, Virginia.

So when the time came to move from Springfield, what attracted my family and I to Utah? It may well be that this desert, having blossomed as the rose, speaks still to our people. When we visited the Provo/Orem area four year ago, this area seemed provincial compared to Washington. More recent visits during ski vacations have left us marveling at the vibrancy and economic growth of the Utah — consistently one of the fastest-growing states in the country.

From the day we arrived, we have been blessed. We now have a comfortable house in Orem, Utah, where a wonderful view of Mount Timpanogos and Mount Cascade greets us upon stepping out of our front door. There are mountain trails for running, hiking and bicycling, and soon, skiing. For nearly a full week upon our arrival, our neighbors — who make up our local congregation — brought food, bread and peaches as welcoming gifts. For the first time in our lives, we can walk a block and a half to our local church.

We’ve also been so impressed by the educational opportunities here. We feel that each of our children have what they need to challenge themselves academically. How vital it is that charter schools here provide a competitive alternative to public schools!

And as for my efforts in offering consulting services around broadband internet services, I’m finding that the Salt Lake Valley is an excellent place from which to operate. I’ve already begun a new webinar series. This collection of Broadband Breakfast Club Virtual Events kicked off last week with an event on advancing Gigabit Networks through high-bandwidth applications. (Our next event is October 15.) The Salt Lake and Utah Valleys are home to two significant fiber-optic networks, the iProvo network recently purchased by Google, and UTOPIA, the Utah Telecommunications Open Internet Agency. I’ll continue to expand on my work nation-wide in promoting broadband from Salt Lake, from Chicago, from Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.

Also, earlier this month, I began an additional engagement: working as Senior Contributing Editor for Deseret News. The newspaper is the oldest publication in the Salt Lake Valley, having launched on June 15, 1850, and is rapidly remaking itself for the digital age. In fact, last week we launched national.deseretnews.com, which fills a void in the American media landscape through rigorous journalism on core issues of interest to many Americans: the state of the family, how faith is lived, education opportunity, financial responsibility, care for the poor, and the culture of media. I’m enjoying the opportunity to combine my journalistic, legal and technological skills in working with the Deseret News, and I invite each of you to begin following it more closely.

From IP-Watch, US IP Attachés Take Hard-Line Position On Overseas IP Enforcement

My piece about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce event last Friday on U.S. intellectual property attachés giving a report, and taking a hard line, on the enforcement of U.S. intellectual property, overseas, is now live on ip-watch.org.

Here’s the first couple of paragraphs:

WASHINGTON, DC – Nations ranging from Brazil to Brunei to Russia are failing to properly protect the intellectual property assets of US companies and others, and international organisations are not doing enough to stop it, seven IP attachés to the US Foreign and Commercial Service lamented recently.

Meanwhile, an industry group issued detailed recommendations for the incoming Obama administration’s changes to the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The problems in other nations extend from Brazil’s failure to issue patents for commercially significant inventions by US inventors, to an almost-complete piracy-based economy in Brunei, to an only-modest drop in the rate of Russian piracy from 65 percent to 58 percent.

The attachés, speaking at an event organised by the US Chamber of Commerce and its recently beefed-up Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC), blasted the record of familiar intellectual property trouble zones like Brunei, Thailand and Russia.

But the problems extend to the attitudes and omissions of major trading partners like Brazil, India and even well-developed European nations, said the attachés.

[more at http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/index.php?p=1387….]

Building Momentum for the Broadband Breakfast Club with November 18 Event

By Drew Clark

Over at BroadbandCensus.com, I’ve just posted an entry about the Broadband Breakfast Club series. In it, I note that Stan Fendley, the director of legislative and regulatory policy for Corning, Inc., has joined the roster of speakers for BroadbandCensus.com’s next big event: the Tuesday, November 18 meeting of the Broadband Breakfast Club.

With the addition of Fendley, we’ll have a wonderful (and wonderfully diverse) collection of speakers to discuss and debate “Should Government Funding Be Part of a National Broadband Plan?” In addition to Fendley, confirmed speakers include Kyle McSlarrow, CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), and John Windhausen, Jr., president of Telepoly Consulting. I will moderate the discussion.

Two weeks after Election Day, this Broadband Breakfast Club meeting will consider one of the hottest topics in telecom: can and should funding for broadband work its way into a pending fiscal stimulus package?

Future meetings of the breakfast club (December 2008 through March 2009) will consider the role of broadband applications in harnessing demand, how the universal service fund will be changed by high-speed internet, the role of wireless in universal broadband, and the extent of competition in the marketplace.

The Broadband Breakfast Club meets monthly at the Old Ebbitt Grill, at 675 15th Street, NW, in Washington. (It’s right across the street from the Department of the Treasury.)

Beginning at 8 a.m., an American plus Continental breakfast is available downstairs in the Cabinet Room. This is followed by a discussion about the question at hand, which ends at 10 a.m. Except for holidays (like Veteran’s Day), we’ll meet on the second Tuesday of each month, until March 2009. The registration page for the event is http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com.

Because of the limited size of the venue, seated attendance will be reserved the first 45 individuals to register. There are no restrictions on who may register to attend. With the exception of speakers, there is a $45.00 charge (plus a modest Eventbrite fee) to attend. The events are on the record.

We kicked off this series earlier this month with a well-attended breakfast on “10 Years Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act: Success or Failure?

I started the Broadband Breakfast Club for the same reason that I started BroadbandCensus.com earlier this year: I believe that American consumers, policy-makers and broadband providers need better information about the issues surrounding high-speed internet access.

Today, broadband is (or could) the driver of citizen engagement, commerce, democratic participation, education, entertainment, health care and potential environmental gains through wider telecommuting. And yet basic information about where particular broadband company offers service – and at what price and at what speed – is not conveniently available in a single, public source. The free web service BroadbandCensus.com aims to change that by going directly to individual internet users for their feedback.

Our Broadband Breakfast Club series is directed more at Washington policy-makers and influencers. But again, we are seeking to broaden the discussion by allowing all to participate. The goal of this breakfast series is to bring an informed consensus – or, failing that, an informed disagreement – around key broadband policy questions.

With the dawn of a new administration – and the prospect of a systematic approach to high-speed internet issues for the first time in nearly a decade – now is the time to undertake these discussions.

Further, the breakfast events that we’re hosting now will lead up to our Spring 2009 conference, “Broadband Census for America: The New Administration.” The Spring 2009 conference – bringing together federal, state and local officials, academic researchers and other interested parties around the issue of broadband data – is tentatively scheduled for Friday, March 27, 2009, here in Washington.

If you have questions or thoughts about upcoming events in the Broadband Breakfast Club series, or about the Spring 2009 conference, “Broadband Census for America: The New Administration,” or about BroadbandCensus.com in general, feel free to contact me: drew at broadbandcensus.com, or at 202-580-8196.

As with everything on BroadbandCensus.com, this blog post is under our Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License. That means you can copy, send, repost and redistribute it. Please do so! The URL for this post is http://broadbandcensus.com/blog/?p=923, and the URL for the registration page is http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com.

BroadbandCensus.com Presents the Broadband Breakfast Club With Event on Digital Copyright

October 14 Breakfast to Feature Representatives from Software, Electronics, and Recording Industries; plus Scholar Responsible for ‘Chilling Effects’

Press Releases

WASHINGTON, October 8 – BroadbandCensus.com announced the inaugural event of the Broadband Breakfast Club: a forum on Tuesday, October 14, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., about 10 years under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, at the Old Ebbitt Grill.

Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act on October 12, 1998, and it was signed by President Clinton on October 28, 1998. The new law, widely known as the DMCA, was designed to usher in a new phase of the United States’ copyright laws.

The DMCA did this through two key provisions. The anti-circumvention provision was designed to offer protection to copyright holders who encrypted their works by criminalizing the act of cracking those codes. The service provider liability provision was designed as a compromise between content owners and internet providers. It created today’s framework for “notice and takedown” currently at issue in a variety of current lawsuits, including Viacom v. YouTube.

Ten years later, how well has the DMCA worked? This event, the kick-off event in the monthly “Broadband Breakfast Club” hosted by BroadbandCensus.com, is designed to bring several key stakeholders together to share perspectives on this topic:

  • Drew Clark, Executive Director, BroadbandCensus.com (Moderator)
  • Mitch Glazier, Senior Vice President, Government Relations, Recording Industry Association of America
  • Michael Petricone, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Consumer Electronics Association
  • Wendy Seltzer, Practitioner in Residence, Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic, American University Washington College of Law; and Berkman Center for Internet Society Fellow and instigator of “Chilling Effects” resource
  • Emery Simon, Counselor, Business Software Alliance

Breakfast for registrants will be available beginning at 8:00 a.m., and the forum itself will begin at around 8:30 a.m. It will conclude promptly at 10 a.m. Seated attendance is limited to the first 45 individuals to register for the event.

Future events in the Broadband Breakfast Club monthly series will feature other key topics involved in broadband technology and internet policy.

For more information about BroadbandCensus.com, or about the Broadband Breakfast Club at Old Ebbitt Grill at 675 15th Street NW, Washington, DC – on the second Tuesday of each month – please contact Drew Clark at 202-580-8196.

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What Was the Gore Commission on Digital Television Broadcasting All About?

Note: On Friday, October 3, the Information Economy Project at George Mason University School of Law will feature a discussion about “The Gore Commission, 10 Years Later: The Public Interest Obligations of Digital TV Broadcasters in Perfect Hindsight.” It will be held at 8:30 a.m. at the National Press Club. Registration details are below.

By Drew Clark

In the United States, the regulation of broadcast radio and television has always been done under a different standard than the regulation of the print medium.

As Secretary of Commerce in the administration of President Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover declared: “The ether is a public medium, and its use must be for a public benefit,” he said at the Fourth National Radio Conference, in 1925. “The dominant element for consideration in the radio field is, and always will be, the great body of the listening public, millions in number, country-wide in distribution.”

When Congress created the Federal Radio Commission in 1927, it decreed that broadcasting was to serve the “public interest, convenience and necessity,” and this standard was re-affirmed in the Communications Act of 1934. Several Supreme Court decisions — albeit decisions that have been much criticized — affirmed that broadcasting could and should be treated differently than the traditional “press.”

This differential treatment for broadcasting — versus the print medium, and also cable television — was underscored by the decisions in Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC (1969), which upheld the “Fairness Doctrine,” and also FCC v. Pacifica Foundation (1978), which upheld indecency rules for over-the-air broadcast television. The Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to grant reply time to those who said their views were criticized.

The Fairness Doctrine upheld in Red Lion was premised on the notion that electromagnetic frequencies, being “scarce,” needed to be rationed through a government-granted license. (It took economist Ronald Coase to note that airwaves are no more scarce than pulp and printing presses.) Station owners were thus periodically licensed as “public trustees” and obligated to either air different points of view, or return their spectrum.

Hence the nascent broadcasting medium was never allowed to develop with the full panoply of First Amendment protections for opinion, commentary, and outright partisanship, as were newspapers. The Pacifica decision underscored this result, holding that George Carlin’s “Filthy Words” monologue, even though not obscene, could be banned by the Federal Communications Commission.

President Ronald Reagan took a dim view of broadcasting’s “specialness.” In the memorable words of his FCC Chairman, Mark Fowler, television is “just another appliance — it’s a toaster with pictures.” Fowler and his successor, Dennis Patrick, worked together with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and finally killed the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. They argued that it chilled free speech, and the appeals court agreed that the agency was entitled to drop the doctrine. Notwithstanding two congressional pushes to overturn the FCC — vetoed by Presidents Reagan and the first President Bush — the Fairness Doctrine was never re-instituted.

But the issue of what else, specifically, broadcasters were required to do to fulfill their public interest obligations came to a head under President Clinton and FCC Chairman Reed Hundt. Hundt pushed for the imposition of a mandatory three hours a week of children’s television – a requirement contemplated by the Children’s Television Act of 1990.

The rise of digital television also complicated this inquiry. As I discussed in my blog post earlier today, “Do TV Broadcasters Have Obligations to the Public,” Congress chartered an advisory committee to consider this question. As part of the Telecom Act of 1996, Congress paved the way for a new allocation of radio-frequencies so that broadcasters could also transmit their signals digitally. But it also specifically inserted language in the act, stating:

Nothing in this section shall be construed as relieving a television broadcasting station from its obligation to serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity. In the [FCC's] review of any application for renewal of a broadcast license for a television station that provides ancillary or supplementary services, the television licensee shall establish that all of its program services on the existing or advanced television spectrum are in the public interest.

But it would take a commission — specifically, the Advisory Committee on the Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters (“Gore Commission”) — to sort through and analyze those specific obligations.

Next post: What Were the Gore Commission’s Findings, and How Do they Apply to the Video Future?

Resources:

Conference Program:

A mini-conference • Friday, October 3, 2008, 8:30 a.m.The Gore Commission, 10 Years Later:
The Public Interest Obligations of Digital TV Broadcasters
in Perfect Hindsight

A mini-conference • Friday, October 3, 2008, 8:30 a.m.
National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC

On December 18, 1998, the Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters, commonly referred to as the “Gore Commission,” released its final report, recommending:

  • Disclosure of “public interest activities” by commercial broadcasters
  • A voluntary standard of conduct crafted by the industry
  • A minimum standard of public interest requirements set by the FCC
  • A trust fund for public broadcasters to be established by Congress; and
  • Five minutes airtime per night for “candidate-centered discourse in the 30 days before an election,” set to commence Sunday, October 5, 2008

Have the recommendations been implemented? Has the approach worked? Are the standards and regulations advocated relevant in today’s media marketplace? What has experience taught us about broadcast regulation and public interest obligations?

8:30 am: Welcome THOMAS HAZLETT
Professor of Law and Economics, George Mason University School of Law
Director, Information Economy Project

8:45 am: GIGI SOHN
President, Public Knowledge
Member of the Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters (“Gore Commission”)

9:30 am: NORMAN ORNSTEIN
Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
Co-Chair, Gore Commission

10:15 am: HENRY GELLER
Retired General Counsel, Federal Communications Commission, 1964-70
Assistant to FCC Chairman Dean Burch, 1970-1974
Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 1978-1981

11:00 am Adjourn

When: Friday, October 3, 2008, 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Where: National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC

Admission is free, but seating is limited. See IEP Web page: http://iep.gmu.edu.
To reserve your spot, please email Drew Clark: iep.gmu@gmail.com.

About the Information Economy Project:
The Information Economy Project at George Mason University sits at the intersection of academic research and public policy, producing peer-reviewed scholarly research, as well as hosting conferences and lectures with prominent thinkers in the Information Economy. The project brings the discipline of law and economics to telecommunications policy. More information about the project is available at http://iep.gmu.edu.

Do TV Broadcasters Have Obligations to the Public? Forum TOMORROW, 10/3

Note: On Friday, October 3, the Information Economy Project at George Mason University School of Law will feature a discussion about “The Gore Commission, 10 Years Later: The Public Interest Obligations of Digital TV Broadcasters in Perfect Hindsight.” It will be held at 8:30 a.m. at the National Press Club. Registration details are below.

By Drew Clark

If all goes according to plan, on February 17, 2009, television broadcasters will power down their analog transmitters. They will be broadcasting their signal only digitally.

After more than 20 years in the long transition to digital television, this might be considered progress. Now, millions of Americans are collecting vouchers from the Commerce Department to subsidize their purchase of converter boxes. These are the electronic devices that take the digital signals — and convert them back to analog — so that viewers without high-definition televisions can watch broadcast TV on their old sets.

What about the bigger questions? Is there any benefit to the public, or to consumers, from the transition to digital television? What about the vaunted visions of hundreds of broadcast channels, through multi-casting? What would be the new public-interest obligations, if any, of broadcasters? This question has definitely not been resolved.

It may come back to this question: what was the point of making this move to digital and high-definition television? I recounted some of this history in “Spectrum Wars,” a 2005 article in National Journal magazine:

[The National Association of Broadcasters] seized upon a new technology out of Japan called high-definition TV. Compared with the 45-year-old U.S. standard, the sharper, high-resolution images used twice as many lines on a television screen, and broadcasting a program required two television channels instead of one. For broadcasters, that was just the point: High-definition gave them a way to fend off the FCC’s effort to grab frequencies back and turn them over to other uses. The broadcasters lobbied the agency to postpone the spectrum reallocation [currently being considered for cellular telephones] and to study the new technology.

The NAB worked its magic on Capitol Hill, inviting Japanese broadcaster NHK to Washington and rolling big-screen Sony TVs into a hearing in the Senate Caucus Room. Fear of Japanese competition was at fever pitch in Washington. Congress was stunned by the picture quality and frenzied at the prospect that the Japanese would outflank American manufacturers of televisions, just as they had done to the makers of videocassette recorders. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., then-chairman of the House Commerce Telecommunications Subcommittee, took up their cause, and Congress pressured the FCC to leave the spectrum assignments alone on the condition that broadcasters develop HDTV.

[…]

But there was still a problem. Existing TV broadcasting equipment could not send digital signals, and existing analog television sets couldn’t receive digital signals. Broadcasters would have to invest in new television cameras and towers for digital signals, and consumers would have to spend thousands of dollars apiece on new sets. During the transitional period, each broadcaster would need two channels, one for analog and one for digital.

Broadcasters turned to Congress, now in Republican hands, and lobbied for a new compact: We’ll give you HDTV if you give us a second channel, for free, until Americans have made the switch. “It was understood that the channels would be loaned for a period of years to prevent consumers from losing television,” said Robert Seidel, vice president of engineering for CBS Broadcasting.

Congress initially approved a transition to digital in 1997, setting year-end 2006 as the target transition date. But a loophole rendered the 2006 irrelevant until congress revisited the issue and, on February 1, 2006, fixed February 2009 as the end-date for the transition.

In the intervening decade, the question of broadcasters’ public interest obligations has been intermittently revived. Most significantly, as a result of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, an Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters was created. It became popularly known as the “Gore Commission.”

Unlike other modes of communications, broadcasters are regulated as a “public trustee.” This means that they must meet certain obligations — by airing children’s television, or by including coverage of civic and political events, for example — that are not required of their counterparts on cable or the print medium.

At the time of the Gore Commission, one voice in the debate was Henry Geller, a former FCC general counsel who has continued to work on broadband matters as a private citizen. He was an FCC attorney before rising to general counsel in 1964-1970, later serving as an assistant to FCC Chairman Dean Burch, from 1970-1974, and then becoming the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration under President Carter, from 1978-1981.

In a 2000 hearing on the subject before Congress, Geller suggested the following (reprinted in Current magazine):

I urge you to consider the following: Scrap the public trustee content scheme, and treat broadcasting like its main rival, cable, which pays up to 5 percent of gross revenues for use of the public streets for cable rights-of-way (significantly, the public makes little or no distinction between cable and broadcast channels).

By taking some modest fee from commercial broadcasters for their use of the public spectrum in lieu of the public trustee obligation, noncommercial television could be adequately funded to deliver high-quality public service programming. The objective is to obtain such programming, but since the government soundly cannot review for quality, we are dependent upon the broadcaster to present the high-quality public service programs. The noncommercial system has demonstrated that it will strive to do so; the commercial system, under fierce and growing competition, has no such history or incentive.

Geller instead suggested a 1 percent spectrum fee on gross advertising revenues, netting about $250 million at the time, and going to fund educational programming on public television

Geller also argued, with respect to political content:

There is one other recommendation to Congress—affording free time to candidates as an important part of campaign finance reform. The details of such an effort are of course to be fashioned by Congress. Since it would obligate broadcasters to allocate a relatively large amount of air time every two years (or perhaps issue vouchers for purchase of that air time), the free time provision, along with the above 1 percent figure in the educational field, would constitute the full broadcaster contribution in lieu of its present public trustee obligation. This would be a meritorious conclusion, because an educated and informed electorate is so vital to the proper functioning of our democracy.

Geller, together with two officials involved in the Gore Commission — Norman Ornstein and Gigi Sohn — will present their reflections at a forum TOMORROW, on Friday, October 3: “The Gore Commission, 10 Years Later: The Public Interest Obligations of Digital TV Broadcasters in Perfect Hindsight.” The event, to be held beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the National Press Club, will feature is sponsored by the Information Economy Project at George Mason University School of Law, of which I am the assistant director. The full program is available at http://iep.gmu.edu. Admission to the event is free and open to the public. To reserve your spot, please email Drew Clark at: iep.gmu@gmail.com.

Later today, I’ll be returning to this theme with two more blog entries in this spot:

  • What Did the Gore Commission Accomplish?
  • How Do the Gore Commission’s Finding Apply to Our Video Future?

Conference Program:

A mini-conference • Friday, October 3, 2008, 8:30 a.m.The Gore Commission, 10 Years Later:
The Public Interest Obligations of Digital TV Broadcasters
in Perfect Hindsight

A mini-conference • Friday, October 3, 2008, 8:30 a.m.
National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC

On December 18, 1998, the Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters, commonly referred to as the “Gore Commission,” released its final report, recommending:

  • Disclosure of “public interest activities” by commercial broadcasters
  • A voluntary standard of conduct crafted by the industry
  • A minimum standard of public interest requirements set by the FCC
  • A trust fund for public broadcasters to be established by Congress; and
  • Five minutes airtime per night for “candidate-centered discourse in the 30 days before an election,” set to commence Sunday, October 5, 2008

Have the recommendations been implemented? Has the approach worked? Are the standards and regulations advocated relevant in today’s media marketplace? What has experience taught us about broadcast regulation and public interest obligations?

8:30 am: Welcome THOMAS HAZLETT
Professor of Law and Economics, George Mason University School of Law
Director, Information Economy Project

8:45 am: GIGI SOHN
President, Public Knowledge
Member of the Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters (“Gore Commission”)

9:30 am: NORMAN ORNSTEIN
Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
Co-Chair, Gore Commission

10:15 am: HENRY GELLER
Retired General Counsel, Federal Communications Commission, 1964-70
Assistant to FCC Chairman Dean Burch, 1970-1974
Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 1978-1981

11:00 am Adjourn

When: Friday, October 3, 2008, 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Where: National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC

Admission is free, but seating is limited. See IEP Web page: http://iep.gmu.edu.
To reserve your spot, please email Drew Clark: iep.gmu@gmail.com.

About the Information Economy Project:
The Information Economy Project at George Mason University sits at the intersection of academic research and public policy, producing peer-reviewed scholarly research, as well as hosting conferences and lectures with prominent thinkers in the Information Economy. The project brings the discipline of law and economics to telecommunications policy. More information about the project is available at http://iep.gmu.edu.

California Telecom Regulator Rachelle Chong, Former FCC Commissioner, to Keynote ‘Broadband Census for America’

Our conference, “Broadband Census for America,” is fast approaching…. The event is tomorrow. If you want to attend, follow the instructions in the press release below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, September 25, 2008 – California Public Utilities Commissioner Rachelle Chong, a member of the Federal Communications Commission from 1994 to 1997, will kick off the Broadband Census for America Conference with a keynote speech on Friday, September 26, at 8:30 a.m.

Eamonn Confrey, the first secretary for information and communications policy at the Embassy of Ireland, will present the luncheon keynote at noon. Confrey will overview Ireland’s efforts to collect data on broadband service through a comprehensive web site with availability, pricing and speed data about carriers.

Following Chong’s keynote address, the Broadband Census for America Conference – the first of its kind to unite academics, state regulators, and entities collecting broadband data – will hear from two distinguished panels.

One panel, “Does America Need a Broadband Census?” will contrast competing approaches to broadband mapping. Art Brodsky, communication director of the advocacy group Public Knowledge, will appear at the first public forum with Mark McElroy, the chief operating officer of Connected Nation, a Bell- and cable-industry funded organization involved in broadband mapping.

Also participating on the panel will be Drew Clark, executive director of BroadbandCensus.com, a consumer-focused effort at broadband data collection; and Debbie Goldman, the coordinator of Speed Matters, which is run by the Communications Workers of America.

The second panel, “How Should America Conduct a Broadband Census?” will feature state experts, including Jane Smith Patterson, executive director of the e-NC authority; and Jeffrey Campbell, director of technology and communications policy for Cisco Systems. Campbell was actively involved in the California Broadband Task Force.

Others scheduled to speak include Professor Kenneth Flamm of the University of Texas at Austin; Dr. William Lehr of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Indiana Utility Regulatory Commissioner Larry Landis; and Jean Plymale of Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program.

Keynote speaker Rachelle Chong has been engaged in broadband data collection as a federal regulator, as a telecommunications attorney, and since 2006 as a state official.

Chong was instrumental to the California Broadband Task Force, which mapped broadband availability in California. She will speak about broadband data collection from the mid-1990s to today.

The event will be held at the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences’ headquarters at 12th and H Streets NW (near Metro Center) in Washington.

For more information:
Drew Bennett, 202-580-8196
Bennett@broadbandcensus.com
Conference web site: http://broadbandcensus.com/conference/
Registration: http://broadbandcensus.eventbrite.com/