Mini-Conference: The Gore Commission, 10 Years Later: The Public Interest Obligations of Digital TV Broadcasters in Perfect Hindsight

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A Mini-Conference • Friday, October 3, 2008, 8:30 AM
National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC

On December 18, 1998, the Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters, commonly referred to as the “Gore Commission,” released its final report, recommending:

  • Disclosure of “public interest activities” by commercial broadcasters
  • A voluntary standard of conduct crafted by the industry
  • A minimum standard of public interest requirements set by the FCC
  • A trust fund for public broadcasters to be established by Congress; and
  • Five minutes airtime per night for “candidate-centered discourse in the 30 days before an election,” set to commence Sunday, October 5, 2008

Have the recommendations been implemented? Has the approach worked?  Are the standards and regulations advocated relevant in today’s media marketplace?  What has experience taught us about broadcast regulation and public interest obligations?


Conference Agenda:

8:30 AM Welcome 

Thomas Hazlett, Professor of Law and Economics, George Mason University School of Law, Director, Information Economy Project

8:45 AM 

Gigi Sohn, President, Public Knowledge, Member of the Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters (“Gore Commission”)

9:30 AM 

Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, Co-Chair, Gore Commission

10:15 AM 

Henry Geller, Retired General Counsel, Federal Communications Commission, 1964-70, Assistant to FCC Chairman Dean Burch, 1970-1974, Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 1978-1981

11:00 AM  Adjourn


Multimedia from the Gore Commission Mini-Conference

Audio recordings in MP3 from the Mini-Conference When: Friday, October 3, 2008, 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. Where: National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC:

  • Gigi Sohn [MP3, 45:23], President, Public Knowledge
  • Norman Ornstein [MP3, 35:37], Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
  • Henry Geller [MP3, 47:11], Retired General Counsel, Federal Communications Commission

Transcript from The Gore Commission, 10 Years Later: The Public Interest Obligations of Digital TV Broadcasters in Perfect Hindsight

Transcript / Prepared by IEP Staff (not exact but close to verbatim)

Thomas Hazlett:

Our next guest is a person with intimate knowledge, of course, of the Gore Commission, he was co-chair of that commission.  Norm Ornstein, is a well-known political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute.  And we are delighted that he’s here to share his knowledge and viewpoint with ten years of perfect hindsight looking back now.  We are delighted that he’s here, not just because he’s Norm Ornstein, but because he flew in from St. Louis this morning and he was supposed to get here on time, so we assumed of course that he would not be here on time, but he’s right here on cue, so thanks very much for making that effort for us Norm.

Norm Ornstein:

Thanks Tom, and thanks for doing this and actually providing me with an occasion, an opportunity to think back to a topic I haven’t thought about in a while.  I’m especially delighted to be here with Gigi, an extraordinarily extraordinarily instructive passionate about what she believes and also very pragmatic. Let me just start first with one observation and it’s sobering when you think back at where technology was ten years ago and where it is today and realizing the dizzying pace of change has.  It is certainly true that we’re thinking about spending. And how much in many ways we underestimate how quickly things could change…. [Read More]

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