Remarks of FCC General Counsel Thomas Johnson at the Media Institute

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My topic for this afternoon: How difficult it is for regulators to predict how technology will develop and transform markets, and why that difficulty demands humility from our regulators. This is a particularly important lesson for the Federal Communications Commission, which stands at a unique crossroads between technology and innovation. Regulators are not good futurists.  And what predictive powers regulators have are weakening as technological progress quickens and becomes even less predictable.

I am pleased to make an announcement: Today, the Chairman’s Office has circulated a draft Report and Order as part of the Commission’s Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative, which updates the FCC’s leased access rules. For those who are not familiar with those rules, the leased access rules direct cable operators to set aside channel capacity for commercial use by unaffiliated video programmers. [R]egulating emerging technologies is a fraught endeavor, and that in many cases the market may be better at solving a problem than regulation. 

Remarks of General Counsel Thomas M. Johnson at the Media Institute