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CONTACT: Patrick Ross
January 21 , 2005
(202) 289-8928
PFF Praises Powell, Pro-Consumer Legacy
FCC Chairman Thanked for Embracing Free Markets

WASHINGTON D.C. - Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell will be remembered as a leader of singular vision who championed the principles of the free market in the digital age, senior fellows with The Progress & Freedom Foundation agreed. During four years as FCC chairman following three more as a commissioner, Powell took enormous strides in promoting the growth of broadband and Internet-related services, with a focus on benefiting consumers through intermodal competition. The Foundation fellows reacted to the anticipated resignation announcement today by Michael Powell.

"No policymaker could have done a better job of articulating the critical importance of embracing the changes inherent in the digital age," said PFF President Ray Gifford. "The FCC Chairman always puts consumers first, recognizing that the best way for the government to serve them is to ensure that it not prevent the emergence of a world of choice in platforms and services. That world is now here, as telecom, cable, wireless and satellite providers all vie for our ears and eyes. That competitive world wouldn't have been free to emerge if Michael Powell had listened to those who sought to impose yesterday's regulatory burdens on tomorrow's goods and services."

"This FCC Chairman understood the importance of looking at competition across industry sectors, and has at least begun to move the agency away from its legacy of managed competition," said senior fellow Randolph May, director of communications studies. "I believe the FCC still has a long way to go, but the agency under Michael Powell has begun to draw a line in the sand regarding new broadband services such as VoIP that should spur new investment and benefit consumers."

"Michael's greatest contribution since he took office in 1997 is that he made us understand the importance of the migration to digital communications," said PFF senior fellow Kyle Dixon . Prior to joining PFF last year, Dixon served as a legal advisor to Powell throughout the latter's FCC tenure, serving most recently as the agency's broadband advisor. "Michael led the charge in promoting investment and innovation in Wi-Fi and wireless, Internet voice, broadband and other technologies that became critical to consumers and the economy. We can only hope that future Chairs will attack the challenges he faced with half as much honesty, foresight and intellectual rigor. He is a true public servant and it was an honor to serve with him."

On broadband, PFF thanks Powell for pursuing policies that seek to treat equally all platforms capable of serving consumers, harmonizing regulation across industries and platforms. Powell also has aggressively pursued spectrum reform, ensuring more access to unlicensed spectrum for new services such as Wi-Fi, while maintaining that spectrum allocation should be a market-oriented process.

In addition, Powell has worked hard to modernize the FCC to make it more responsive and efficient. Powell outlined his efforts on that front, which includes the continuing education of FCC employees, in a public discussion with Gifford at the 2004 Progress & Freedom Foundation Aspen Summit.

"All of us at The Progress & Freedom Foundation have enjoyed working with Chairman Powell over the years, and have appreciated his participation at Aspen and at other events. We will continue to work with him over the coming months, and anticipate a fruitful and productive relationship with his successor once that individual is named and confirmed by the U.S. Senate," Gifford said.

PFF senior fellows are available today to discuss Powell's departure and his legacy. Reporters may call Patrick Ross at 202-289-8928 or e-mail at to arrange interviews.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation