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Six Steps Toward a Stronger, More Transparent, More Accountable FCC in the Obama Era


Source: Social Science Research Council

SIX STEPS TOWARD A STRONGER, MORE TRANSPARENT, MORE ACCOUNTABLE FCC IN THE OBAMA ERA

The Social Science Research Council offers six steps toward a stronger, more accountable, more transparent Federal Communications Commission.

Data Disclosure: The FCC should mandate:

Full public disclosure of the datasets produced through FCC-sponsored studies. Arguably, this is already required under the Data Quality Act. Full disclosure of third-party data used in research submitted in formal FCC policy proceedings. Because of the heavy reliance of all parties on commercially-collected data, the second recommendation is the most sweeping reform on our list. The restrictive terms of most commercial licenses greatly distorts the policymaking process by forbidding disclosure or sharing of data used in research—even, in many cases, with the FCC. Reform in this area would require innovation in licensing—possibly in the form of an FCC-mandated 'public policy license' for datasets used in work formally submitted to the FCC. Such a license would require disclosure and encourage independent evaluation, but protect providers from unauthorized secondary commercial appropriation.

Content Archiving: Much of media policy is an effort to shape the content of the media, yet the current regulatory environment makes access to audio-visual content difficult, haphazard, and expensive. The FCC should: Require broadcast licensees to provide thorough, accessible and reliable records of station programming and performance. Work with the Library of Congress, the Copyright Office and other actors to create a modern regulatory framework for audio-visual content archiving. Among the numerous benefits of a more complete audio-visual archive of American life: better research on the media policy questions that involve content, from media diversity to news to children's programming.

Finally, the FCC should create an Advisory Committee on Data Quality, Integrity, and Access to advise the Commission on these and other data issues over time.

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Six Steps Toward a Stronger, More Transparent, More Accountable FCC in the Obama Era

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