Topics: College of Communication Information and Media, Emerging Media

July 28, 2011

Ball State University's nationally recognized leadership in emerging media and broadband policies have led to the appointment of faculty member Barry Umansky to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) committee.

telecommunications professor and member of the university's Digital Policy Institute (DPI), Umansky is one of several new  members of the FCC's 31-member Consumer Advisory Committee. He will serve a two-year term and participate in full committee and subgroups meetings during that term.  The next meeting of the full committee is Aug. 17 in Washington D.C. Ball State is one of only two academic institutions represented on the committee.

Umansky is a widely recognized communications attorney who began his career at the FCC following graduation from law school. He later served as vice president and deputy general counsel of the National Association of Broadcasters and then in the private practice of communications law before coming to Ball State in 2003.

The FCC advisory committee makes recommendations to the Commission regarding consumer and telecommunications issues on behalf of all consumers, including people with disabilities and in underserved populations, such as Native Americans and residents of rural areas.

Consumer protection and education issues to be addressed by the committee include "cramming" (unauthorized charges on consumer phone bills), consumer-friendly billing, telecommunications privacy, telemarketing abuses and outreach to underserved communities.

Umansky said DPI for several years has made recommendations on emerging media, digital communications and broadband policies to various state and national government entities, including the FCC.

"The committee's work is right down our alley," said Umansky, "Ball State has been examining many of these issues since DPI was formed in 2004. I think I can share with the committee many of the significant findings made by DPI over the last few years.  This appointment will allow Ball State to play a greater role in shaping the future of digital communications in this country"

He added that work on the committee underscores the importance of Ball State's Emerging Media Initiative (EMI), a more than $20 million investment focusing the university's historic strengths accelerating benefits to the state of Indiana with media-savvy human capital.

Among the telecommunications topics the committee will address in the coming months, Umansky said, will be  the impact upon consumers of new and emerging technologies, including the availability of broadband, digital television, cable television, satellite TV, low-power FM, as well as the convergence of these technologies, he said.