When NCTA announced that former FCC chmn Michael Powell will take the reins at the trade group next month, Free Press trotted out a quote from shortly after the Republican was named chmn in which he compared the digital divide to the Mercedes divide. In other words, there are luxuries people would like to have, but can’t afford. We’ll leave it to Free Press managing dir Craig Aaron and Powell to argue over whether that statement meant something different in 2001 than it means today (Powell had stated during his tenure that he was hesitant to let adoption rates drive govt response for a developing market). In the meantime, we’ve put together a sampling of Powell quotes over the past 10 years that we think are good reading on the man who will lead the industry starting Apr 25.
“To regulate the Internet in the image of a familiar phone service is to destroy its inherent character and potential.” – Powell on a deregulatory approach for VoIP, Jan 2004
"National broadband policy should be in the office of the President, not at the FCC.” – Powell complaining that a regulatory agency is saddled with a severe amount of regulatory restraint, May 2009
“If one were to look back at the health of cable companies at the height of regulation, and looked at the staleness in innovation and the prices you were paying for limited services, I do not believe that you would make an objective case that that was a better environment than the one that exists today. You just couldn’t make that.” – Powell at NAB on why the govt regulation of cable rates is unneeded, Apr 2001
“I think it’s an enormous … opportunity for cable as well, or anyone who hopes to be accessing individual consumers in their homes with the products of the future, whatever they end up being. I know they will be using digital and those kinds of advanced protocols. I think you want devices to get smarter, more powerful and capable of receiving higher levels of quality and—put it this way—higher amounts of bits, because you just don’t know where it is going.” Powell talking with C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb at the NCTA show on the importance of the digital transition, May ’02
“I have seen the rise of the Wi-Fi network. I’ve seen the rise of spectrum industry that is very hungry to have its hands on enormous swaths of this spectrum, as you might understand. I see the dynamic changing.” – Powell on the importance of broadcasters working to bring the DTV transition to a close and returning analog spectrum, Apr 2004
"I turned to my wife and said, ‘Tomorrow’s going to really suck.’ And it did.” – Powell reflecting on the night of the infamous Janet Jackson Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, Oct 2010
"A classless, crass and deplorable stunt." – Powell immediately after the Super Bowl boob slip-up, Feb 2004
"I know how to block shows on my cable television, but I’m the chairman of the FCC. I bet a lot of Americans don’t, and I want to make sure the cable industry is out there teaching them how to do that." – Powell discussing indecency, Feb 2004

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