Charlie Firestone is the executive director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program.
When Julius Genachowski finishes his four years as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, he will follow a 16-year tradition followed by his four immediate predecessors: moving to the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program as a Senior Fellow. We are delighted, of course, to welcome him to the Aspen family.
Genachowski’s chairmanship focused on expanding broadband access, increasing spectrum for wireless mobile and other uses, and rationalizing regulations. It was an important time in communications regulation, and his experience will help us immensely in finding the right issues at the cutting edge to address in our various roundtables.
Why do we offer this fellowship? Other than helping the program think through the issues, we believe it offers these senior leaders in our field an opportunity to think through their tenure on the Commission and, reflecting on their accomplishments, formulate agendas and issues for the future. Freed of the possibility of moving markets by the mere intonation of their comments, these leaders can frame the issues going forward in new and important ways.
In the coming months, the Communications and Society Program is embarking on four new projects that will complement our usual array of summer roundtables. Two are task forces or working groups that will tackle a particular issue. We will announce them shortly.
We will convene a new roundtable project in cooperation with our sister policy program, the Energy and Environment Program. Called the Initiative on Smart Energy and Network Technology—or INSENT—we will meet for the first time in May, bringing together the energy constituency of the Energy and Environment Program with the communications and software constituencies of the Communications and Society Program. We have high expectations for that activity.
Finally, we are looking to start a China Initiative, bringing together leaders from the US and China in both the media and the information and communications technologies fields. We are looking forward to Chairman Genachowski’s advice and help in moving these new projects forward.
For more information on the last four FCC Chairmen to join the Institute following their tenure, see below:
2005-2009: Kevin Martin
2001-2009: Michael Powell
1997-2001: William E. Kennard
1993-1997: Reed Hundt