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Uncertain Futures: An Analysis of the FCC’s Newest Commissioners

August 10, 2009

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I’m glad to announce today the release of “Uncertain Futures,” our political analysis of the FCC and its future. While public attention has largely missed the activity surrounding the nominations (particularly in the face of the Sotomayor hearings), the recent FCC commissioner confirmations have huge implications for the communications infrastructure in the US. Plus, no well-researched overview seems available online for researchers in the space.

To that end, we’ve gone through and done our homework. We prepared a basic briefing which reviews the background of the five newly minted commissioners of the FCC. Then, using what we know of the breakdown of their positions across various issues, we’ve made some educated guesses about the direction of the Commission in the coming years, and which policies will dominate going forwards.

The big news: while there is accordance on a great deal of issues, the controversial, divisive (and most important) points of policy will be determined by the critical vote cast by Mignon Clyburn, whose positions on issues are still largely unknown.

You can read the full report here (pdf).

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Other Key Findings and Predictions:

* Drawing from what we know of Mignon Clyburn and her father’s  political connections, it appears that the principle of net neutrality may be at risk in the coming years.

* The most contentious issues among the commissioners will be net neutrality and media consolidation, issues that have created intense  debate and were the focus of the Senate Committee hearings.

* The FCC will put an end to any further discussion of the Fairness  Doctrine, which is opposed by all five of the commissioners and President  Obama.

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