Alumnus, FCC Chair Helps Inaugurate UNC Center for Media Law, Policy

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin ’89 spoke at UNC on Monday in the first event of the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy.

A collaborative initiative of UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and its School of Law, the new center aims to support both schools’ efforts to train students in the relationship between mass communication, the law and public policy. It also intends to provide a national forum for debate on media law and policy.

“Now is the perfect time for the Center for Media Law and Policy at Carolina,” said Jean Folkerts, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “The University’s scholars and researchers are established leaders in the field, and the intersection of legal and media issues, and the primacy of the First Amendment in preserving a democratic society that protects individual and societal rights, are increasingly vital issues of national debate.”

The center is envisioned as a resource for media and legal professionals and scholars and a source for innovative solutions to the problems raised as traditional legal standards and are challenged by technological changes in the dissemination of news, information and entertainment.

“The explosion of communications technologies – cable and clear channel networks, the Internet, personal blogs, MP-3 and I-Pod devices – raises scores of complex legal questions with few clear answers,” said Jack Boger ’74 (JD), dean of the law school.

Newspapers, magazines, radio, television and the music industry all find their traditional products broadcast instantaneously into hundreds of countries with a bewildering tangle of media laws, none of which were drafted with the current realities in mind, Boger said. “The capacity of computers and servers to track individual access to media raises the specter of governmental and corporate intrusion into individuals’ lives and privacy that would have seemed futuristic even 25 years ago,” he said.

Issues the center will address include intellectual property, media consolidation, national security, indecency, privacy, advertising and reporters’ privilege.

Martin was designated FCC chairman by President Bush in March 2005 and was re-nominated for a second term in April 2006. Martin served previously as a special assistant to the president for economic policy and was on the staff of the National Economic Council. Before joining the Bush administration, Martin served as a technology and telecommunications adviser on the Bush-Cheney transition team.

A political science graduate from UNC who headed the student body in 1988-89, Martin also holds a master’s in public policy analysis from Duke and a law degree from Harvard. He received the GAA’s Distinguished Young Alumni award in 2004.

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