Feb 1, 2012

Rick Cotton + Fred Wilson = Valentine’s Day with the Media Council

I hope there’s some love in the room this Valentine’s Day when the Paley Center’s Media Council hosts “Protecting Content and Promoting Innovation in a Digital World: A Post-SOPA/PIPA Conversation.”  But I’d settle for some mutual respect and understanding between the featured speakers, NBCUniversal’s Rick Cotton and Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson.  

Cotton, as NBCUniversal’s longtime legal counsel, was a vocal proponent of the legislative effort, while Wilson was chief among tech investors who expressed grave misgivings about the bills directly to Congress and via his influential blog, AVC.com. But both agree that the issues at hand are central to the vitality of the media, technology, and entertainment communities, and I’m hopeful that this forum will be an important step toward finding common ground.

Indeed, the search for common ground among the media industry, broadly writ, is the soul of our mission at the Paley Center. So much of what we are about is providing a forum for the best minds in media to come together for candid, reasoned dialogue on how to promote innovation, collaboration, and growth.  You see that in the companies represented on our board—Hearst, Time Warner, Sony, Google, Yahoo, Verizon, AOL, Microsoft, CBS, and Disney, to name a few—and in the programming that attracts tech innovators like Wilson, Alan Patricof, and Roger McNamee. The Media Council is the place for this kind of conversation to happen.

No, I’m not expecting Rick, Fred, and their able moderator, McKinsey & Co.’s Geoff Sands, to join hands and lead the assembled in a chorus of Kumbaya. But I do expect a strenuously thoughtful, civil, and open conversation aimed at finding a way forward. Writing the day after Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) postponed the Senate vote on PIPA, Wilson said that the time is at hand to devise “an entirely new framework to think about online piracy,” one that is “based on a shared set of goals and objectives” between the tech and content industries. As Cotton has said, the stakes for finding a solution are nothing less than “the jobs of millions of Americans who are employed in two dozen high-growth, high-innovation sectors of the U.S. economy.” I have no doubt that on Feb. 14, we will have a spirited and productive dialogue.  

- Max Robins, Executive Director & Vice President, Industry Programs

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