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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 22, 2009 8:30am-9:00am EDT

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that you might have on the grant program. >> guest: i thought that he gave the correct answer. not only is it absolutely appropriate that the fcc play a consulting role, it's in the statute. and for a minute i was wondering if senator pryor had forgotten or maybe skipped that part of the legislation when he was reading through it because the fcc has no grant-making authority in the b-top program. all they're doing is defining served and unserved and creating this national broadband plan. also helping with the map. but all the money is in agriculture and at ntia. >> host: and, fawn johnson, you mentioned earlier that the room was full of lobbyists. lots of lobbyists? >> guest: lots of lobbyists. >> host: from all aspects of the
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industry? >> guest: the thing you remember is this is the guy who's going to be dictating our future for the next 4, 5, 8 years maybe? who knows. so it's very important to the industry to have representatives in the room, and when i showed up at the hearing, the line was snaking down two flights of stairs with, you know, various people from, you know, any, you know, the major companies and the major lobbying firm who represent them. it makes sense, you know. these people who are confirmed to be commissioners of the fcc have a lot of power with industry, congress doesn't want to get involved in the regulations, and so they need to develop a good relationship with julius genachowski, and this is how they show that they care. >> host: well, our guests have been fawn johnson with dow jones news wires and andrew feinberg of broadband we've been discussing the nomination of julius genachowski to be the next chair of the fcc. when will the vote happen?
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if it hasn't already? >> guest: it could happen before the july 4th recess. there are things that could stall that, obviously, it only takes one senator. but that has been the plan at least as part of the committee, we'll have to wait and see. we expected other nominees to go forward a lot more quickly, and they've gotten held up, so we're still waiting on that one. >> host: and you can watch the full hearing if you'd like at thank you both for being on "the communicators." >> guest: thank you. >> guest: you're welcome.
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>> how is c-span funded? >> through donations? >> i think you get a little bit from the federal government? >> you know, grants and stuff like that. >> maybe from sponsors? >> it might get some government funding. >> viewers? >> how is c-span funded? thirty years ago america's cable companies created c-span as a public service, a private business initiative. no government mandate, no government money. >> and now a nomination hearing for president obama's choice to head the federal communications commission. julius genachowski served as a technology adviser to the obama presidential campaign and was also chief counsel to fcc chair reid hunt during the clinton administration. this portion of the hearing begins with an introduction by senate commerce committee chair john rockefeller, it's about 55 minutes. know,
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really cooperative relationship with the com >> return now to you.
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julius genachowski, and for those who may be trying to figure out how to pronounce his name, we've had researchers at work for three days on that, and it's pronounced chow -- >> well -- [laughter] >> you don't agree. >> we've changed our name. [laughter] >> genachowski? >> it's genachowski. thank you, chairman -- [laughter] >> you know, all these people -- >> that's your first victory over the chairman. >> all of these people are going to be laid off. [laughter] i would hope that you would introduce your family. >> thank you, chairman rockefeller. first, thank you to you for your generous -- >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> let me -- i should proceed to introducing my family before we
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lose, we lose my kids. i couldn't be happier that my wife, rachel gosselin is here and all three of my children starting youngest to oldest, aaron genachowski, leila, and my oldest son jake. i'm so pleased that my parents were able to come from new york, and my brothers joey and alan, and i believe that a couple of cousins are here, too. so thank you all for coming. chairman rockefeller and ranking member hutchison, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. i'm grateful for this chance, i look forward to answering your questions and seeking your support for my nomination. mr. chairman, over the years i've had a chance to see your commitment to american consumers, your dedication to protecting the safety of our nation's communities.
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i look forward to working with you in these, on these and other vital issues. senator hutchison, i have great respect for the leadership you bring to the committee, and i look forward to working with you on the vital issues in the communications area. i'd like to thank senator schumer for taking the time to introducing me and for his decision 24 years ago to give a young college graduate his first job. thank you for the chance to having introduced my family. mr. chairman, it is a tremendous honor to have been nominated by president obama to serve as chairman of the federal communications commission. and while this hearing is an honor for me, it is something even more for my family. it's a celebration of the hope and dreams that brought my parents to the united states about 50 years ago. my parents are immigrants. my father fled the nazi terror and ultimately came to the united states. my mother joined him, and together they raised a loving family and became role models
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for their children. my father is a hard working businessman, my mother is a hard working homemaker, both completely committed to family and community. from my parents i learned the meaning of the american dream. i learned something else too. my father came to the u.s. to study engineering. i'll never forget the day i was in high school about as old as my oldest son is now. my dad and i were on a college trip to boston. i remember him leading me into the dusty stacks of mit library and showing me engineering plans he had drafted as a graduate student. they were for a device designed to someday help blind people read words on paper by translating text into physical signals. the formulas and drawings didn't make much sense to me then and, dad, i confess they still don't, but the core lesson has remained with me: communications technology has the power to transform lives for the better.
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we've all seen and lived and many of the members spoke about it in their opening statements the implications of the communications revolution. in the 20th century, we saw a world reshaped by communications technologies and networks, the telephone, radio and television, satellites and the birth of the internet. now in the 21st center communications has the potential to unleash new waves of communication increasing opportunity and prosperity, driving american competitiveness and leadership, connecting our country, strengthening our democrat, and transforming lives for the better. the federal communications commission has an important role to play in pursuing these goals, and in doing so on behalf of all americans. if confirmed, i look forward to learning from and working closely with the committee on these essential topics. in this time of profound economic challenge, our communications sector can make a significant contribution to our nation's near-term economic
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recovery and long-term economic success. congress has entrusted the fcc with the important task of developing a national broadband plan, a world-leading broadband infrastructure in america can be an ongoing engine for innovation and job creation throughout our country from our rural towns to our inner cities while helping address vital national challenges such as public safety and education, health care and energy, ultimately helping give all out of our country's childrn the future we dream for them. and as communication devices and networks become ever more essential to the daily lives of every american and as the media landscape changes dramatically, the need has never been greater for an fcc that sees the world from the perspective of consumers and families. mr. chairman, i'm honored by the possibility of returning to government and serving our country. my two decades of professional experience have been divided between public service and the private sector. i began as a congressional staffer in the 1980s.
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i remember walking these hallways knocking on doors looking for a job. after law school i was fortunate to serve as a law clerk in the courts, and i served on the staff of the fcc in the 1990s at a time when one of the agency's tasks was implementing the historic e-rate provision, connecting classrooms and libraries to the internet. i wanted to work in government because this great country had given so much to my family, and i wanted to give back, and because i believe that government can be a force for good and help improve the lives of all americans. these are still my ideals today. for the last decade, i've worked in the private sector with large media and technology companies as well as small businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups. i saw firsthand how communications technologies and networks can serve as foundations for innovation and for expanding our economy. the experience reinforced my deep respect for private
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enterprise, the indispensable engine of economic growth. it also taught me to -- what it means to operate in the -- and if confirmed i would drive that spirit of common sense to my role in government. my career inside and outside government has convinced me that the fcc can be a model for excellence in government fighting for consumers and families, fostering investment and innovation through open, fair, and data-driven processes. a 21st century agency for the information age. the fcc should consult closely with congress and work effectively and efficiently for the american people. there are so many devoted and talented public servants at the fcc, many of whom i was fortunate enough to work with earlier in my career at the agency. i hope the committee will give me the opportunity to work with them again. before cloagz, i would like to salute the work of acting
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chairman michael copps and commissioner jonathan adelstein and robert mcdowell. i'd like to congratulate commissioner mcdowell on his renomination. i'd like to salute the commission for the hard work they've done in connection with the digital television transition. our country has benefited greatly from their service. thank you again, mr. chairman, for the opportunity to appear before you. i look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you very much, mr. genachowski. [laughter] i was governor, if you remember, back in 1981, and i appointed the first person to head the consumer advocate division of the west virginia public service commission. i did not know what that was going to turn out to be. the person is still a force, and he is literally changed the face of west virginia, a single person. on a sometimes weak, sometimes strong commission. in comparison, critics have
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argued that the fcc has become captured by industry. not everybody says that, but critics do say that. and more of a referee of corporate disputes than of what can help the consumer, caretaker of the public. by statute, however, the purpose of the commission is to make available as much as possible to all the people of the united states of america efficient communications services within, with adequate facilities at reasonable prices. so question, i believe that the fcc should work to make sure consumers are offered the best quality service at reasonable prices, and i assume you agree? >> yes. >> do you believe that the fcc has adequately fulfilled its mission in making this, in making sure the consumers have
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access to the latest technology at reasonable rates? if not, is the agency structurally capable of so doing? >> senator, let me speak briefly about consumers and about broadband. in this time of great change in our communications area, it's never been more important for the fcc to wake up every day and understand that at the core of its mission is working on behalf of american consumers. the communications sector, as senator kerry mentioned, it's a fifth of our economy, it's contributed a greater percentage to our economic growth. there are enormous opportunities for all americans, but there are also, there's also confusion among consumers which the fcc can help tackle. the fcc should be looking at maximizing choice for consumers for dealing with complaints, for waking up every day and asking and looking at the world from the perspective of american
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consumers. with respect to your other point, chairman rockefeller, the growing consensus that we need a national broadband strategy in this country, in fact, the requirement that the fcc develop and issue a national broadband plan is a recognition that we as a country are not where we need to be with respect to our communications infrastructure. we should have, i believe, a communications infrastructure that is world leading, a 21st century infrastructure that generates economic growth, opportunity, prosperity, and critically, we should have in this country 21st century communications infrastructure that extends to all americans and that does so to your point meaningfully, in a way that they can afford to sign up and use and take advantage of the opportunities that communications technology offers.
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>> thank you. the fcc has been criticized for a lack of transparency by the gao. i won't go into the language, but the language is quite startling. consumer groups joined them, even industry joins them. some industry. it is nearly impossible to find information on the fcc's web site, that point has been brought up this morning, and much of the data filed with the commission is not even accessible online. worse, in the past the fcc has been accused of disclosing information to some, and you know that to be the truth, while leaving the general public in the dark. consumers should not have to hire $500 per hour lawyers to find out what the fcc is doing and participate in the decision-making process. question, do you agree that the fcc should be more open to the public? >> yes. >> and how?
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>> well, senator, the first thing is it requires a commitment throughout the agency to principles of openness, transparency, fairness, fact-based decision making, and if confirmed, i would want to lead the fcc in that direction. i don't see how it could be otherwise. the issues are just too complex. we need an fcc that's smart about technology, smart about the law, smart about economics, smart about businesses, and smart about what consumers go through every day in navigating a complex communications world. so i think this is quite important, quite important. i had the same experience that you did in trying to navigate the fcc web site. the fcc should be a model for transparency, opennd, and fairness. openness and fairness. there's a lot of work to do, but i'd like to see the fcc be a model with respect to using communications technologies to communicate openly with the american people and with all the
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constituencies that are interested in what the commission does. >> i'm over my time, but i'll just end by saying this: you, you have plans to make it more transparent. some of the things that the gao has said are quite staggering. and they're talking about the fcc should take to insure equal access to rulemaking information, that's the title of a booklet which criticized the agency for providing more information to certain stakeholders to the detriment of others. according to the gao in some instances the fcc staff would go so far as to call individuals to inform them of the upcoming items scheduled for a vote. in contrast, stakeholders
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representing consumers and public interest groups do not hear from them. i hope you're not satisfied with that. >> no. no. >> i call on the ranking member. >> thank you, mr. chairman. on the broadband issue, how do you view the issue of no service versus underserved areas as priorities? >> senator, the first thing i'd say is that i am working on the national broadband plan that congress entrusted the fcc, i would start with where congress started. congress and the staff should ask the fcc to look at deployment, affordability, national purposes, and the fcc, i expect, would do that. with respect to unserved and underserved areas, i think the
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first principle the agency should follow with respect to its own work and also to the extent that it consults with the ntia and other agencies on grants is the taxpayers should get the biggest bang for its buck for taxpayer dollars. and the first priority, i think, is to do what can be done to extend broadband to unserved areas. rural areas around the country, there is a divide between parts of the country that have broadband, in some cases have fast broadband, people who don't have broadband at all, and i think congress was clear that working on providing broadband to unserved areas is critical. there are other concerns and goals as well. i think the term underserved can mean a series of different things. in some cases it can mean unserved in a particular area, so there may be a market that is served, but a pocket of it that
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doesn't receive any service, and there may be ways to help operators extend their service to part of the market that don't receive it. there may be markets where that are underserved because the speed is too slow, and there be ways to help providers increase their speed. there may be markets that are underserved because the adoption is very low, and there may be be ways to think about strategies to increase adoption in that area to make it a sustainable economic possibility of ongoing broadband service in that area. >> well, that's correct. i just hope that the priority is to help people who have nothing with our stimulus money is really what we're discussing here. but people who have nothing, it seems to me, should take priority over people who have
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slower service. i would hope that that would be a common sense rule. the indecency policies going forward, how do you see that evolving, and is that a priority in timetable that, that indecency policies would end enforcement policies would be looked at? >> senator, i heard you mention your children, and i have children as well. i'm a parent who shares the concerns of many parents about what their kids see on tv. i worked on children's educational programming when i was at the fcc, and i chose after i left the fcc to get involved with a nonprofit called common sense media that focuses on helping improve media lives for family and children. i share the concerns of parents on indecency, number one. number two, the fcc's job in
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this area is to enforce the law, and congress has been clear on the indecency law. the supreme court recently rejected a challenge to the indecency law. the fcc's job is to enforce the law, and it will enforce the law around indecency. >> let me ask you on media ownership. when i first came to the senate, i was a person who believed that a newspaper should not have too much television presence in a market because i think more media outlets are a good thing. since i came to the senate the technology world has exploded, and i no longer think that we need to police that, and now we have the most incredible situation which i don't think any of us ever anticipated in our lifetimes that major newspapers would be on the brink of literally going out of
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business. and not having that avenue for news coverage for the citizens of big communities is now a viable possibility. so my question is, the fcc does still have rules against dual ownership, and i think it is important that you look at that and determine if really we ought to be doing everything we can to keep newspapers alive in order to have the most outlets for people who like to get their news in different ways. >> senator, very, very early in my career i worked on a newspaper in college, and then i reestablished the oldest newspaper at the college that i went to. my heart is filled with respect for the role that newspapers play in our society, in our democracy, and a little bit later in my career i spent time
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in the broadcasting industry where i learned both that it's a special business, plays a special role in our country, and also that it's a hard business especially in these times. it's a unique business, it's still our broadcasting, our only universal medium and source for news and information. and so excessive con sol case is -- consolidation is something, i think, that still needs to be paid attention to. but at the same time it wouldn't be right for the fcc to ignore the changes in the marketplace that are apart and the struggles in the various parts of the traditional media business. congress has required the fcc on a i believe it's a quadrennial basis to look at its ownership rules, and i think when congress asked the fcc to look at its ownership rules, it expects it to run an open process, looking at facts, looking at data, understanding the marketplace, understanding the principles
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that underlie concerns on all sides in this to understand the importance of having broadcast outlets and, of course, the importance of having newspapers, understanding concerns about excessive consolidation. and run an open, fair process to make smart policy judgments about the right thing to do. >> do you know when that quadrennial review is up? >> i believe the next review is scheduled for 2010, and i apologize if that's the wrong date. >> well, i didn't know either, but i would hope you would set it at a higher priority than just waiting for a review period to come up. i think we've got to do something to help newspapers, in my opinion. >> yes, and, senator, i agree with that. and the other thing i would point out is the fcc has had rules in place for some time with respect to failing stations, distressed stations, and certainly any stations in that situation that comes to the commission should be taken seriously and looked at seriously because it would be
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wrong for the agency to ignore the real problems that exist in the marketplace. >> thank you, senator hutchison. senator pryor. >> thank you, mr. chairman. if i may, mr. genachowski, i'd like to just pick up where senator hutchison left off. she was talking about newspaper ownership of broadcast media. i'd like to ask you about the minority ownership of broadcast media, and that is, you know, you can look back. we've made some progress in that area, but i'd like to ask you do you think it's a good public policy that we should encourage more minority ownership of broadcast media? >> my understanding, senator, is that that's the policy of the communications act, to insure the widest possible dissemination of licenses and to pursue diversity in ownership. it's been a value that's been widely shared far long t


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