Developing Polices for the New Media Landscape

December 11, 2017  • Communications and Society Program

As 2017 comes to a close, the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program invites you to join us as we celebrate and reflect over an exciting year marked by thoughtful, constructive discussions on a range of issues. The following “2017 Year In Review” series offers highlights from the various programs as well as insight into 2018 programming. For more information, please  visit our homepage and or follow us on Twitter or Facebook

The 2016 presidential election brought about new changes in all facets of American society. The Trump administration unveiled policy proposals very different from those of the Obama administration. Ajit Pai’s appointment as Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) ushered in a ‘light touch’ regulatory agenda that he proposed would ensure an open internet. Chairman Pai outlined four guiding regulatory principles to guide his approach to policy:

  1. The importance of digital empowerment and the “democratization of entrepreneurship”
  2. Ubiquitous internet access to digital opportunity
  3. A competitive free market
  4. Light-touch regulation

The 32nd annual Conference on Communications Policy took place in August 2017 and explored Chairman Pai’s guiding principles and the challenges and opportunities the administration should consider in the new media landscape. Participants discussed emerging trends, including technological convergence, new business models, changing patterns of consumer demand, and individualized, local and national distribution of media. Thirty leaders including regulators, policymakers, communication policy scholars, telecommunications business executives, and public-interest leaders explored questions such as:

  • How can policies address new challenges and opportunities for media technologies?
  • Do current communication policies address the needs of consumers and media providers today and in the future?
  • How does Chairman Pai’s statement of guiding principles address those needs?

The group responded to these questions by developing recommendations to promote a vibrant media ecosystem in the coming years and identified two issues stakeholders should confront going forward: inclusion and content quality. While the Conference did not explore the current net neutrality debate, the ideas suggested lay the groundwork to support and shape the new media market in a way that adheres to the values of inclusion, promoting common culture, and truth in public discourse.

The Communications Policy Conference report, written by John Horrigan, entitled, Streams of Connectedness & New Media: Fragmentation, Innovation, and Democracy outlines the recommendations set-forth at the conference and will be available in early 2018. Please check back to learn how to receive your copy or visit