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CONTACT: Patrick Ross
February 1, 2005
(202) 289-8928
Digital Age Communications Act Launched
PFF Joins with Veterans of Last 5 Administrations

WASHINGTON D.C. - Policymakers from the last five presidential administrations are joining forces with The Progress & Freedom Foundation to draft model communications policy legislation. Their collective goal is to ensure deregulated competition in services and platforms now, while crafting language that can anticipate future technologies and services. The project, called The Digital Age Communications Act (DACA), was launched at a press conference today and comes as Congress is considering an overhaul of communications law. The DACA advisory group and working groups include former FCC commissioners and chairmen, former FTC commissioners and chairmen, former NTIA directors, and other officials who have served presidents and vice presidents in the last five administrations - George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.

"There is but one ideological premise to this undertaking," said PFF President Ray Gifford, "that the nation's communications laws, policies and institutions are in need of reform. The participants in this effort hail from across the political spectrum, and they have agreed to come together to try and form consensus positions about proper reform. We start with no presuppositions except that reform is necessary, and have no predetermined outcomes." Gifford is co-chairing DACA with PFF Senior Fellow Randolph May, director of communications policy studies. The PFF web site has biographies on the DACA Advisory Group and DACA Working Groups.

The effort will be divided into five working groups. The group on a regulatory framework will be co-chaired by May and Northwestern University Law Professor James Speta. PFF Senior Fellow Thomas Lenard will co-chair the spectrum policy group with New York University Professor of Economics Lawrence White. May will join with The George Washington University Law Professor John Duffy to co-chair a group on institutional reform, while PFF Research Fellow Adam Peters will co-chair a group on universal service and social policy with Columbia University Professor Michael Riordan. PFF Senior Fellow Kyle Dixon joins with University of Colorado Law Professor Philip Weiser in co-chairing a group on a federal-state framework.

"One might ask whether a bottom-up rewrite of communications law is advisable, or even prudent," said May, noting some shy away from broad reform, instead calling for piecemeal action on issues of pressing importance, such as universal service. "We believe that the transformation of the communications sector - from analog to digital, from circuits to packets, from monopolistic platforms to multiple platforms - warrants consideration as a whole."

The Progress & Freedom Foundation has released a set of essays outlining the focus of each working group, as well as a Declaration of Principles that will guide the participants. The Declaration states that the current communications regulatory regime rests on an outdated and inconsistent regulatory framework. DACA participants agree that the aims of both the Communications Act of 1934 - to provide communications services to all Americans - and the Telecom Act of 1996 - to provide for a pro-competitive, deregulatory national policy framework - were sound and remain applicable today. However, given the instability of the current universal service regime, a lack of coordination among state and federal regulatory bodies, wasteful use of spectrum, and the inability of Congress to keep pace with rapid evolution in technology and markets, DACA participants are seeking a new regulatory approach.

The goal of DACA is to produce a model bill that can be presented to Capitol Hill later this year in the hope that it can contribute to the ongoing debate regarding what some are calling "the next Telecom Act."

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