Clay Shirky on the Potential Revolution at FCC

Clay Shirky surprised me with his excellent look at Michael Powell, Bush’s candidate to run the Federal Communications Commission. Powell is Colin Powell’s son and, aside from Gail Norton, the closest thing to a libertarian in Bush’s administration.

Shirky points out that Powell’s biggest opponents are likely to be Republicans who have a vested interest in the status quo at the FCC. Shirky doesn’t mention it, but it was Republicans in Congress, for example, who pushed through a bill essentially overturning the FCC’s decision to approve low power radio.

Add to that the faith that Democrat lawmakers have in state-run air waves, and Powell will likely become a whipping boy for Congressional hearings once he announces that the First Amendment actually applies to broadcast media.

The Internet has demonstrated the sort of diversity that communication systems can have when they are made widely available. If Powell succeeds, he could make radio relevant again. If not, radio will continue its long downward spiral into mediocrity.


Disappearing Act. Clay Shirky, FeedMag.Com, February 9, 2001.

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