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CONTACT: Amy Smorodin
February 8 , 2006
(202) 289-8928

PFF Notes 10th Anniversary of Telecom Act
May Bemoans Lack of Institutional Reform

WASHINGTON D.C. - Ten years ago today President Bill Clinton signed into law the Telecommunications Act of 1996, designed to increase competition in the telecom market and deregulate both the telecom and cable industries. In this Congress, both the House and Senate Commerce Committees are debating ways to update the Telecom Act of 1996 and the underlying Communications Act of 1934. The Progress & Freedom Foundation has a number of Senior Fellows conducting research in that area.

The following statement on the 10th anniversary of the Telecom Act can be attributed to Randolph May, PFF senior fellow and director of communications policy studies:

"One wonders how the FCC might have become a more efficient and less regulatory agency had Congress paid more attention in the '96 Act to institutional reform. For example, Congress easily could have tilted the agency's forbearance authority more in the direction of granting forbearance, imposed sunset deadlines on regulations so that rules could not be extended without rigorous cost-benefit analysis, and reduced the number of agency bureaus and offices. In order to make the agency more accountable, it could have subjected agency regulations to OMB review. In light of the knowledge then that the marketplace was already in transition to a more competitive environment, all of these institutional reforms could have been implemented without dictating the substantive outcome of any particular issue. The lesson: institutional reforms matter too." 

The Progress & Freedom Foundation has organized the Digital Age Communications Act (DACA) project, working with other think tanks, members of academia and former officials from the last five Presidential administrations to craft a new communications regulation model for the digital age. In December, Senate Commerce Committee member James DeMint (R-S.C.) introduced the Digital Age Communications Act (S-2113) which in large part is modeled on the work of the PFF DACA project. DeMint will speak at a March 9 PFF event titled "The Digital Age Communications Act: Towards a New Market-Oriented Communications Policy in 2006." Former House Majority Leader Richard Armey, now co-chairman of Freedom Works, also will speak at the event.

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