FCC Names David Waterman Chief Economist

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has picked a new chief economist who has done extensive research on online video and the degree to which cable and other MVPDs could impair its growth.

David Waterman, professor emeritus in the telecom department of Indiana University Bloomington, has joined the FCC as chief economist and will focus on media issues.

According to the FCC, he is an expert in vertical integration and multichannel market structures, as well as the economics of Internet video distribution.

In fact, Waterman co-authored a paper presented to an FCC cosponsored workshop back in May that concluded that traditional MVPDs with their strategic advantages were an obstacle to future online video growth, as was the limited availability of high value content and "ISP strategies" that may raise consumer prices for video consumption.

Waterman and his co-authors suggested that "effectively enforced" network neutrality rules could be a governor on ISP actions that could have "negative effects" on content suppliers.

Wheeler is currently contemplating defining linear Internet video providers as MVPDs to give them access to more of that high-value content and is trying to figure out the best way to restore those enforceable net neutrality rules.

“I’m delighted that David Waterman has agreed to join the Commission as our Chief Economist," said Wheeler in a statement. "His understanding of the communications industries, and of the relationship of market structures to public policy, will allow him to contribute immediately at the FCC. Professor Waterman’s presence will aid in our effort to beef up the role of economics in FCC decision-making."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.