Now that he’s out of office, former FCC Chairman William Kennard has some serious second thoughts about the much-heralded Telecommunications Act passed by Congress in 1996. Permitting media companies to integrate content and distribution—coupled with a period of relaxed government regulation—was a serious mistake made during a technological boom time, Kennard said.
During remarks in Washington, D.C. as part of the Media Access Project’s 30th anniversary speaker series, Kennard recalled the “tremendous pressure” on FCC regulators during the mid-1990s to allow consolidation of media markets.
It was a “euphoric period of belief in converged networks” that resulted in mergers such as those between American Online and Time Warner, Kennard recalled. Such mergers were “oversold to regulators and oversold to shareholders.”
The Media Access Project is a non-profit, public interest law firm that promotes the public's First Amendment right to hear and be heard on electronic media. For more information, visit: www.mediaaccess.com.