An FCC “Data-Driven” Double Standard?

October 27, 2010

The FCC appears to have a glaring double standard when it comes to applying its “data-driven” policy analysis mantra of the last two years.

On one hand, the FCC seems interested in using its unique “data-driven” form of analysis to assert that the U.S. broadband market, (which based on market data is the most competitive facilities-based broadband market in the world), is not competitive and a market failure, so that the FCC can justify mandating new open Internet/net neutrality regulations and deeming the Internet to be a regulated telephone network.

  • Moreover, the FCC also seems interested in using its unique “data-driven” analysis to assert that the U.S. wireless market, (which is among the most competitive in the world) is not competitive enough to promote enough innovation, so that the FCC can justify new types of FCC wireless innovation regulation.

On the other hand, in retransmission disputes between a cable broadband provider and content provider, the FCC appears to not want to do any “data-driven” analysis at all, because that might show obvious regulatory failure and not the market failure the FCC seems interested in finding most wherever they look in the communications sector.

  • Any data-driven analysis of the retransmission market would show that the market is not the cable monopoly market of twenty years ago, (that the FCC rules still presume), but the most competitive facilities-based multi-channel market in the world, where consumers have four facilities-based choices: cable, DirecTV, Dish, or their telco provider for video.

In sum, in broadband the FCC’s “data-driven” analysis always seems to want to see a monopoly where there is competition, and in retransmission disputes they always want to imagine competition where there are way-out-of-date FCC monopoly assumptions.

  • There appears to be an FCC double standard here that always results in favoring more FCC regulation or control of market outcomes.

If the FCC is going to tout that its policy making is data-driven — shouldn’t it be?

 

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