‘Tis the Season for Transition Meetings

December 16, 2008 , , , ,

All one needs to do is go to the Presidential Transition website,, to see how busy the various agency review teams and policy working groups have been getting the new administration ready to take over the reins of government on January 20. The agency review teams are busy talking to the current occupants of agencies like the Federal Communications Commission to determine what their current agendas are and how things can be improved in the future. The policy working are thinking only of the future and how to implement policies going forward in areas like the economy, health care and national security. And both types of teams are meeting with stakeholders to get their ideas on how the Administration should proceed.

Today, PK was a participant in two meetings organized by the Media and Democracy Coalition. Nearly 40 individuals representing two dozen public interest organizations and foundations attended. The first was an intense and deeply substantive meeting with FCC Agency Review Team Co-Chairs Susan Crawford and Kevin Werbach, who was joined by Larry Strickling of the Transition team. The topics ranged from improving access to broadband to spectrum reform, to net neutrality, to text messaging to how to improve the FCC's processes. I talked about PK's still pending text messaging petition as well as the need for the FCC to consider requiring dominant broadband providers to open their infrastructure to competitors. It was those “open access” requirements that led to an explosion of competition between Internet Service Providers in the late 90's and early oughts.

PK gave the team this two-pager about text messaging and this one-pager laying out our “Principles and Policies for an Open Broadband Future.” If that title sounds familiar, the paper tracks our July 2005 paper entitled “Principles for an Open Broadband Future”. I find it remarkable that in the 3 and a half years since that paper was written, our need for a coherent broadband policy framework has not changed one iota.

The second meeting was with Alec Ross of the Technology, Innovation and Government Reform Policy Working Group. This meeting focused on “Public Media 2.0,” with presentations by independent media and technology producers and distributors such as the Independent Television Service (ITVS), Public Radio Exchange and the National Public Lightpath Initiative. The groups urged the transition to think of public media as more than PBS and NPR, and to provide opportunities for more grassroots oriented public media. Of particular interest to PK was the discussion of the difficulty that many of these public media producers and outlets have clearing the rights to materials under copyright (orphan works bill anyone?).

These meetings are just the beginning of PK's transition season – we've got three more just this week. In the spirit of the new administration's desire for transparency and accountability, we will report on them here.