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25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
A series of posts describing how this all came about. (Click on picture above)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kevin Martin,
FCC Chairman,
to be Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute

Contact: Charlie Firestone
The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program
(202) 736-5818

Aspen, CO, January 15, 2009

The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program announced today that Kevin Martin, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 2005 to January 20, 2009, will become a Senior Fellow to the Program beginning immediately upon his departure from the Commission. This will mark the fourth consecutive FCC Chairman to take this fellowship at the Aspen Institute upon leaving the Commission. The tradition, beginning with Democrats Reed Hundt (1993-97) and William Kennard (1997-2001), continued with Republican Michael Powell (2001-05) and now Martin.

“Chairman Martin has been a longtime participant in Aspen Institute forums,” said Charles Firestone, executive director of the Program. “We look forward to working with him and to the advice he will give us.” Firestone also noted the past participation of the anticipated next Chairman, Julius Genachowski, in the Aspen Institute Forum on Communications and Society (FOCAS), an annual summer conference in Aspen, pointing out the non-partisan nature of the Program.

“I have long enjoyed and respected the Communications and Society Program,” Martin said, “and will relish the opportunity to reflect on the nature of leadership that I exercised in this field for the past several years.”

The Communications and Society Program serves as a non-partisan venue for global leaders and experts to exchange insights on the societal impact of advances in digital technology and network communications. It also creates a multidisciplinary space in the communications policy-making world where veteran and emerging decision-makers can explore new concepts and develop new policy networks.



Washington DC –Today FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin announced his resignation from
the Federal Communications Commission, effective January20, 2009. The Chairman said he
leaves the office with great pride in the FCC’s accomplishments and with deep gratitude for
having had an opportunityto serve the American public.
Chairman Martin stated that his philosophyduring his tenure at the FCC “has been to
pursue deregulation while paying close attention to its impact on consumers and the particulars
of a given market, to balance deregulation with consumer protection.” He stated that he
“approached his decisions with a fundamental belief that a robust, competitive marketplace, not
regulation, is ultimately the best protector of the public interest and the best method of delivering the benefits of choice, innovation, and affordability to American consumers.”

During his tenure at the FCC, the Commission has focused on establishing the
appropriate regulatory environment that achieves the right balance between two competing
interests: (1) to encourage investment in communications infrastructure and (2) to make sure
consumers and innovation are not unintentionallyor intentionallydisadvantaged bythe owners
of that infrastructure. Under Chairman Martin, the Commission acted to level the playing field
so that all entrants could fairly compete, facilitating increased investment in the next generation
of communications infrastructure. At the same time Chairman Martin was able to push for more
open platforms to spur innovation on the edges of these networks and deliver lower prices,
improved services and greater choice to consumers.
In his letter of resignation to President Bush, Martin wrote, “I have had the privilege of
serving at the Federal Communications Commission for almost 8 years, including 4 years as the
agency’s Chairman. During this period, we have seen a telecommunications industryundergoing
rapid and unprecedented change. As a result of the market-oriented and consumer focused
policies we have pursued the American people are now reaping the rewards ofconvergence and
the broadband revolution including new and more innovative technologies and services at ever-
declining prices.”

Upon his departure from the Commission, Chairman Martin will serve as a Senior Fellow
at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C.


JANUARY 15, 2009

Kevin Martin’s announcement of his imminent departure from the FCC is historic
for the institution and poignant for me, personally.

Kevin and I arrived at the Commission almost simultaneously. We went through
Senate confirmation together in 2001, but because someone over at The White House
screwed up his paperwork, Igot the seniority edge on him bya few days—but he
trumped that a few years later by becoming Chairman. We were different ages, had
different backgrounds, different political affiliations and sometimes very different
underlying ideas about how best to serve the public interest. But we have been through a
lot together. There were frequent instances when, I am pleased to say, we were able to
find common ground. The now famous—and eventually infamous—Triennial Review
brought us together as we fought for what we thought Congress meant when it instructed
the Commission to encourage competition in the telephone industry. We developed,
early on, a shared concern over the excesses of violence and family-unfriendly fare on the
broadcast airwaves. We each had a special interest in public safety and we found
common ground on ways to move it to the forefront. I watched Kevin, as Chairman, put
public safety front-and-center here at the Commission, which is exactly where it long
needed to be. His leadership after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast will
surelybe remembered as one of the highlights of his, or any, Chairmanship. We made
progress together on instituting and enforcing Internet Openness Principles and took first
steps down a road toward a network neutrality regime. We pushed for a more open
wireless marketplace. And we pulled together trying to make the Wilmington, North
Carolina DTV transition a success.

None of this is to paper over our very real differences on many matters of
substance and process, with media consolidation, broadband competition policy and
Commission transparency coming immediately to mind. But this is not the time or place
to revisit things divisive. Sometimes Kevin confounded Commission-watchers by putting
forward very original ideas that those who didn’t know him might never have expected.
This made some folks happy, some unhappy and others occasionally frantic. But it could
also be refreshing. To his credit, his proposals often challenged his fellow Commissioners
to get under the hood and examine their own assumptions. He compelled us to develop
our own ideas to address the problem at hand. The Rural Health Care Pilot Program was
one such idea and it was, and is, a signal accomplishment of Kevin’s Chairmanship.
I also welcomed his efforts to increase the number of public Commission hearings
around the countryon such issues as media ownership and net neutrality. It’s no secret
that Iwould have liked even more such hearings, but the record is that under Kevin, the
Commission didget out of Washington and hear from the public and from experts on
public policyissues that cried out for such input.

Over the years, Kevin and I had some very candid discussions—with the bark off,
as Lyndon Johnson used to say—as we sought common ground on contentious matters.
We quickly discovered that we could talk candidly, respect confidences, and, not
infrequently, find ways to move the Commission’s business forward. When our
discussions did not yield agreement, we disagreed without ever being disagreeable. When
we gave our word to one another, that word was honored. We understood that we came
to some issues with fundamentally different ideas about what the Commission ought to
be doing and how it ought to be doing it, but we recognized that each of us believed in
our individual approaches, and we shied away from attributing bad motivation to each
other. This didn’t resolve all problems—don’t read more into this than I’m saying—but
it allowed us to build a working relationship on a personal level that I think was helpful.
We should also remember that those High Noon moments at the Commission,
when the cameras pack this room, the media is hanging on everyuttered word and
perceived nuance, and everyone is waiting to see who is going to draw their Colt 45 first,
are not the daily norm here. Probably 90 per cent or more of what the Commission
decides is decided through consensus. Our discussions are not duels in the sun, but more
often searches for understanding the facts of a case, the meaning of a statute, or the
arcania of legislative history.

Kevin Martin will hopefully continue to contribute, no matter where he is, on the
issues to which he has devoted so much time and energyat the FCC. I look forward to
his ideas and input and to many opportunities to talk and work together in the years
ahead. He has had a busytime of it here—first as a staffer, then as Commissioner, and
finallyas Chairman. He works long, he works hard and he brings keen and creative
intelligence to whatever he does. I imagine these have been very demanding years for
Kevin and Cathie and their two—soon to be three—children. The prospect of having at
least a little more relaxed pace must look veryattractive to them. Beth and Icertainly
wish Kevin and his growing family all good things on the road ahead, and we look
forward to continuing the friendship that we have developed. I thank him for his many
kindnesses and courtesies to me, for his kind words today, and for the friendship we will
continue to enjoyin the years ahead.

1 comment:

prgill said...

Chrmn Martin's approach focuses on protecting consumer interests while encouraging "investment in communications infrastructure".

This is well and good, but it ignores the "ultimate public good" in a healthy democracy, diversity of public opinion.

For me, the failings of the media under the Bush Administration are a direct result of a signficantly fragilized mass media (cross-media competition for advertising dollars) in capable of resisting a propaganda machine intent on executing policy.

Would media companies have been better "thought leaders" if their balance sheets had been more stable. I am sure, yes. Do short term financial considerations distract from cultivating and promoting civil debate? Of course they do. Why then was it necessary to reintroduce market consolidation and financial predatory practices through the derregulation of local media ownership?

For me the failings of the FCC under the Bush administration, arose primarily out of a mistatement of the regulation problem. The issue is not "adequate investment in communications infrastructure" but "promotion of public discourse".

Public policy as it concerns media, should be the preservation of diversity and the promotion of public debate.