July 24, 2015 - Technology has affected almost every aspect of the entertainment industries. It has reduced costs to produce some types of content, changed established release strategies, and introduced new distribution channels. While much discussion has focused on the extent to which new distribution methods like streaming may displace more traditional methods, less discussion has focused on how a range of new technologies together might affect the balance of power in the creative industries. For example, Netflix is using its ability to learn detailed preferences about its subscribers to develop its own content that might not have succeeded on other platforms. Superstar powerhouse Taylor Swift is able to selectively pull her work from platforms whose business models she doesn't like. Are these harbingers of a shift in market power among the different groups of creative industries? The panel "Creative Destruction in the Creative Industries: How Technology is Changing Content Business Models" at the 2015 TPI Aspen Forum will bring together industry leaders to talk about these changes and their impact on the business of entertainment.
July 22, 2015 - Once upon a time, opinions on telecommunications policy, while divisive, did not generally split along political party lines. That has been steadily changing, as best exemplified by the FCC's Open Internet Order. But as one analyst recently observed, "we would all be well served to engage these questions [of net neutrality and Title II reclassification] as questions of economics rather than morality plays about good and evil." So what do the economics imply about these issues and why do policymakers draw different conclusions from economic analysis? Will Congress be satisfied to wait until the courts render their verdicts on the Order, or is there a sense that Congress no longer believes the agency reflects its general preferences and therefore will force changes? Participants in the panel "Congress and the FCC after Title II" will discuss these and other issues at the 2015 TPI Aspen Forum.
July 16, 2015 - During a taxi ride late one night a few years ago, a cabbie started berating me for asking him to drive the 25 minutes from downtown D.C. to my home in Maryland. At the time, I thought to myself, At least he took me. In the past, some drivers had simply refused. And, like many other cab riders, I came to expect that his cab's credit-card machine would be mysteriously "broken" when it came time to pay.
July 14, 2015 - The Universal Service Fund, originally intended to subsidize voice communications for rural and low-income consumers, is steadily transitioning to focus on broadband. In 2011, the High-Cost Fund became the "Connect America" Fund and began to subsidize rural broadband. This year, the White House announced the "ConnectED" program, which increased funding to the Schools and Libraries E-Rate program. And the FCC is currently considering how the Lifeline program can subsidize broadband, rather than voice, connections for low-income people and whether to make subsidies available to even more rural providers.
July 6, 2015 - Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Ajit Pai raised an important issue when he decried the incomprehensible state of our rural universal service funding in a speech and op-ed article in Nebraska. However, despite claiming that "The Internet is the greatest free-market innovation in history"... Pai eschews free-market principles in his proposal to modernize the rural universal service subsidy program to promote broadband Internet access.