As we note in our book, there is an endless supply of academics and private scholars who engage in the communications policymaking field. Usually, most academics work for industry hire and supply–surprise–what is deemed intellectual support for corporate political agendas. Missing always is a clear statement of who is funding them. A November paper by two well-known researchers at the “AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies,” now being hailed by anti network neutrality supporters, attempts to undermine the effort to restore non-discrimination safeguards to U.S. broadband networks. Messrs Hahn and Litan acknowledge in a cover footnote that they “have consulted for telecommunications and information technology companies on issues discussed in this paper.” They do not actually list such consultancies. But a glaring omission is the failure to identify who helps fund the Joint Center they co-direct. They include AT&T (and its predecessor SBC), Verizon and the super media monopoly lobbying shop Wiley, Rein and Fielding (which has represented BellSouth, Verizon and others). Such conflicts of interest should have been prominently displayed by the authors, as well as full disclosure of their consulting contracts. We note that pro-net neutrality firm Interactive Corp. is also a Joint Center supporter. But how much each gives and the terms of the grant must be disclosed in any related research. Research from the Joint Center, and all other scholarly and advocacy groups, should clearly and prominently identify their funders and their related political positions on the issues raised within the main body of the paper.
The public deserves better from the folks at the Joint Center.
For an example of the paper’s reception, go to Forbes.com and see the 1/24 online piece entitled “Is Network Neutrality a Myth?”