may 2-3 conference at Fordham on ‘Information and the Information Economy’

A Conference Co-Sponsored by The Intellectual Property & Communication Law Program at the Michigan State University College of Law, The Donald McGannon Communication Research Center at Fordham University & the Quello Center for Telecommunications Management and Law at Michigan State University
May 2nd and 3rd, 2008
Pope Auditorium
Fordham University
Lincoln Center Campus
New York, NY
with lots of interesting speakers, including Eli Noam, W. Russell Neuman, and C. Edwin Baker, see description below.
Conference Overview

Policy-making concerning the information economy and the new media depends upon information about
the information economy and the new media. Not surprisingly, significant controversy surrounds the
information that drives and justifies policy and regulatory efforts. For instance, many claim the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) politicizes its market analyses and argue that the FCC, since
pursuing deregulation, has failed to collect sufficient data for competent rulemaking. Beyond doubts
about quality and quantity, controversy surrounds the type of information that should guide policy
making, with many questioning whether economic theory or other social goals should guide debates about
media ownership and mandatory network interconnection. This conference explores these issues,
attempting to isolate areas in which inadequate information may lead policymaking astray and identify the
nature and adequacy of types of information forwarded to justify regulatory decision-making about the
information economy and new media.

Panel Descriptions
Friday, May 2

The Changing Economics of Information Industries

Information and communication technologies are transforming the organization of electronic media and
information industries. Digitization, gradually increasing broadband access, the availability of multiple
fixed and mobile platforms, and advances in computing and electronics are changing the economics of
these sectors. Peer-to-peer networks, user-generated content, ubiquitous computing and ambient
intelligence are only the tip of some of the developments. Generic trends include the migration to next-
generation networks that seamlessly integrate different technological platforms, the redrawing of
boundaries between converging and diverging services and applications, the ability to gather enhanced
consumer and audience behavior data, the proliferation of new ad-supported services, and increasing
communications among machines (the “Internet of Things”). In this introductory session we address
these broader developments and their implications for sector economics and policy.

Nicholas Economides, Stern School of Business, New York University
Eli Noam, Columbia University School of Business
Steve Wildman, Quello Center for Telecommunication Management and Law, Michigan State University
Christopher Yoo, University of Pennsylvania School of Law

Information Sources, the New Media Environment, and the Democratic Process

Policymakers have become increasingly cognizant of the need to understand the role of various media and
information sources in citizens’ decision-making. At the same time, the media environment has grown
increasingly complex, raising questions about whether the reconfigured media environment and the new
dynamics of media usage are having a positive or a negative effect on citizen knowledge and political
participation. Factors ranging from the increased flow of information across traditional geographic and
market boundaries, to the greater diversity of available content options, to the blurring of the traditional
distinction between media consumers and media producers, all have potentially dramatic ramifications for
the relationship between information and the democratic process. This panel explores cutting edge
thinking and research on the relationship between the new media environment and political decision-
making, and the extent these dynamics can or should be addressed by communications policymakers.

Markus Prior, Department of Politics, Princeton University
W. Russell Neuman, Department of Communication, University of Michigan
Ellen P. Goodman, Rutgers University School of Law
C. Edwin Baker, University of Pennsylvania School of Law

Saturday, May 3

Information Access: Legal Rules and Market Forces

Access to information has emerged as the central feature of the digital economy of the 21st Century. In
the United States, recent judicial and regulatory decisions, as well as legislative moves, have diminished
government’s power, both on the state and federal level, to regulate and control communications firms’
decisions to provide access to competitors and customers. At the same time, mergers and proposed
mergers among the biggest telephone carriers, satellites companies, and internet backbones appear to have
concentrated control of access into fewer hands. Debate over the effects of these changes have focused in
the “network neutrality” controversy—concerning whether federal law should mandate some level of
interconnection and/or access to internet users. This panel brings to bear the insights of economics,
communications scholarship, and the law to examine the effects, good or bad, of less legal and regulatory
control over information access. Given the complexity of communications technology, the rapidity of
market change, and the much-predicted “convergence” of communications platforms, the panel will
explore whether and/or which legal rules can effectively further access.

Brett M. Frischmann, Loyola University School of Law, Chicago
Simon Wilkie, Center for Communication Law and Policy, University of Southern California
Kevin Werbach, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Barbara Cherry, Department of Telecommunications, Indiana University

Information and Decision-Making in Media and Communications Policymaking

Policy decision-making on matters related to our media and communications environment not only affects
the economics of one of our most vital industry sectors, but also the cultural and political dimensions of
American life. For these reasons, this decision-making process has been – and should continue to be –
placed under intensive scrutiny. Contemporary media and communications policymaking takes place in a
contentious, highly-charged environment, with multiple stakeholders advocating for a wide range of
policy outcomes, and with ever more rigorous demands being placed on policymakers to support and
justify their decisions. This panel explores the dynamics of contemporary media and communications
policy decision-making and the role that information can and should play in this process. This panel
considers recent charges that the process has become increasingly politicized, as well as the somewhat
contradictory charges that the process has become overly bureaucratized and data-driven. In addressing
these issues, this panel considers the implications of recent occurrences such as the apparent suppression
of research within the FCC, conflicts over access to policy-relevant data, and ongoing efforts to assess the
quality and integrity of the data relied upon by policymakers in their decision-making.

Drew Clark,
Joe Karaganis, Social Science Research Council
Angela Campbell, Georgetown University School of Law
Lili Levi, University of Miami School of Law

Ownership, Information, and the Regulation of Standards

Exchange of information requires a language—whether a human language or a technical or digital
standard. The decision of which language or standard a major communications medium will use often
involves intricate policy questions, having significant bearing on how information is exchanged. We see
these issues in the debates about the conversion to digital standards for broadcast television, the FCC’s
requirement that cable systems provide the protocols to allow standardized navigation devices, the
interoperability of satellite radio receivers, and the use of interoperability of cell phones on different

J. Gregory Sidak, Georgetown University
Linda Garcia, Georgetown University
Anthony Wilhelm, NTIA (invited)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: