tv [untitled] CSPAN June 17, 2009 12:30am-1:00am EDT
on the vital issues in the communications area. i would 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 >> thank you for the chance to introduce my family. this is a tremendous honor to be nominated by president obama to serve as chairman of the federal communications commission. this hearing is an honor for me and it is even more for my family. it is the celebration of the hope and the dreams that brought my parents to the united states about 50 years ago. my parents are immigrants. my father fled the nazi terror and came to the united states. my mother joined him. together they've raised a loving family and became good models for our -- for their children. both of my parents are committed to family and community.
from my parents, i learned the meaning of the american dream. i learned something else. my father came to the u.s. to study engineering. i will never forget the day. i was in high school. my dad and i were on the college trip to boston. i remember him leading me into the mit library and showing me engineering plans he drafted as an undergraduate student. designed someday to help people read words on paper to translate text into physical signals. the formulas and drawings didn't make much sense to me then and dad, confess they still don't. but the core lesson has remained with me. communications technology has the power to transform lives for the better. we've all seen and lived and many of the members spoke about it in their heap oeping statements. the i wemplications of the communications revolution.
we saw the world reshaped by communications technology. the telephone, radio, television, satellite, computers and the birth of the internet. now in 91st century, communications has a potential to unwave newlea new waves s nh innovati innovation. the federal communications commission has important roles to play in pursuing these goals and doing so on behalf of all americans. if confirmed i look toward to learning from and working closely with the committee on these essential topics. in this time of pro-found economic challenge, our sector can make a significant contribution to the near-term economic recovery and long-term economic success. congress has entrusted the fcc with the important it issing of developing a national broadband plan a world leading broadband
infrastructure in america can be an ongoing engine for creation and job invasion throughout our country, from our rural towns to our inner city while addressing vital challenges such as public safety and education, health care and energy. ultimately helping give all of our country's children the future we dream for them. and as communications devices and networks become ever more essential to the daily lives of americans and as the media landscape changes dramatically, the need has never been greater for the sec 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 derk kads of professional experience have been divided between public service and the private sector. i began as a congressional staffer in the 1980s. i remember talk wauking these mallways knocking on doors, looking for a job. after law school, i served in the law courts as a clerk and
served on the staff is the the fcc in the 1990s, 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. i worked in the private sector with large media and technology company along with small businesses and start-ups. the experience reinforced my dependent respect for private enterprise, the indispensable engine for economic growth. my time also taught me what it means in a dynamic and ever changing marketplace. i learned the power of
pragmatism and danger of dogma and i would drive to bring 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 invasion 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 there are so many devoted and talented public servants at the fcc, many of whom i was fortunate 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 closing, i would like to salute the work of acting chairman michael copps and the commissioner jonathan adelstein and robert mcdowell. i would like to congratulate commissioner mcdowell on his renomination. i would like to salute the commission for the hard work
they've done in connection with the digital television transition. our country has benefited greatly for their service. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you. i look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you, mr. janikowski. i was governor back in 1981 and i appointed the first person to head the advocate division. i did not know what that was going to turn out to be. the person is still a force, and he has literally changed the face of west virginia, a single person. on a sometimes weak, sometimes strong commission. and in comparison, critics have argued that the fcc has become captured by industry. critics do say that.
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 that consumers are offered the best quality service at reasonable prices. and i assume you agree. >> yes. >> do you believe that the fcc as adequately fulfilled its mission in making sure the consumers have access to the latest technology at reasonable rates? if not, is the industry capable of so doing. >> 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. there are enormous opportunities for all americans, but there's also confusion among consumers which the sec is help tackle. the fcc should be looking at maximizing choice to deal with complaints for waking up every day and asking -- and looking at the world from the perspective of american 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's world leading, 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 meanfully in a way that they can afford to sign up and use and take advantage that the communications of technology offers. >> 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 joined them. some industry. much of the data filed with the commission is not even accessible online. 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 spend $500 an hour on lawyers to participate in the process. question, do you think the fcc should be more open to the public? >> yes. >> and now? >> first thing, it requires a commitment throughout the agency to principles of openness, transparency, fairness, fact-based decision making, and
if confirmed, i would want lead the fcc in that direction. i don't see how it could be other wise. the issues are too complex. we need an fcc smart about technology, smart at economics, smart about businesses and smart about what consumers go through every day in navigating a complex communications world. i think this is quite important. i had the same experience that you did in trying to navigate the fcc website. the fcc should be a model for transparency, openness and fairness, there's a lot of work to do, but i would like to see the fcc be a mod well respect to using communications technologies to commune kats openly with the american people and with all the constituencies that are interested in what the commission dud. >> i'm over my time, but i'll just end by saying this.
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 sec should take to ensure equal access to rule-making information. that's the title of a booklet. which trit criticized the agency for providing more information to certain stakeholders to the detriment of others. according to the gao in some instances the sec staff would go so far to call individuals to inform them of the upcoming items scheduled for a vote. new mexico contrast, stakeholders 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 would say is that in working on the national broadband plan that congress entrusted the sec, i would start where congress started. congress asked the sec to look at deployment, national purrs and the fcc i expect would do that. with respect to unserved and underserved areas, i think wi with -- the first principle the agency should photo to the extent of its own work and it
follows other agencies on grants is the taxpayer should get the biggest bank for its buck for taxpayer dollars. and the first priority is to do what can be done to extend broadband to unserved area. there's a divide in taurts of country that have broadband. people who don't have broadband at all, and i think congress was leer that working on providing broadband to unserved areas is critical. there are other concerns and goals as well. in some taste kaiss it can mean unserved in a particular area. it westbound a market that's served but a pocket that doesn't receive any service.
there may be markets that are underserved because the speed is too slow and there may be way@@r there may be markets that are underserved because the adoption is very low and there may be ways to think about strategies to increase adoption in that area to make it a sustainable economic possibility of broadband service in that area. >> that is correct. i just hope the priority is to help people who have nothing with our stimulus money. that is what we are discussing here. people who have nothing. it seems to me they should take priority over people who have slower service. i would hope that that would be a common sense role. the indecency policies going forward .
you see that evol evolving? and is that a priority in timetable, 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 concern of many parents of what their children watch on tv. i chose after i left the sec to get involved with a nonprofit called common sense media that focuses on helping to improve media. i share concerns with patients on indecency, number one. number two, the sec's job is to enforce the law. congress has been clear.
the supreme court recently rejected a challenge to the law. >> 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 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 bankruptcy 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 still does have rules and i think it's 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 outlooks for people who like to get their news in different bayways. >> senator, very early in my career, i worked on a newspaper in college and then i re-established the oldest newspaper at the college that i went to. my heart is filled with respect for the role newspapers play in our society and our democracy. later, i spent time in the broadcast industry where i learned it's special business, plays a special role in our country and also it's a hard business, especially in these times.
it's a unique business. it's our universal medium and source for news and information. consolidation is still something that needs to be paid attention to. but at the same time, it wouldn't be right for the sec to ignore the changes in the marketplaces that are apparent and the struggles in the various parts of the traditional media business. congress has required the sec to look at its ownership rules. when congress asks the fcc to look at its ownership rules, it expects it to look at data, understanding the marketplace, understanding thef the principles, understanding the importance of having broadcast outlets and the importance of having newspapers, understanding
concerns about excessive con sl dags and run an open, fair process to make smart policy judgment about the right thing to do. >> do you know when that review is up? >> i believe the next review is scheduled for 2010, and i apologize if that's the wrong date. >> 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. we have to do something to help newspapers in my opinion. >> i agree with that, the sec has had rules in place. that situation that comes to the commission should be taken seriously. it would be wrong for the agency to ignore the real problems that exist in the marketplace. >> thank you.
senator pryor? >> thank you. i would like to pick up where senator hutchins finished off. she was talking about newspaper ownership of broadcast media. i would like to ask you about the minority ownership of broadcast media. we've made progress in that area. i would 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's the policy of the communications act, to ensure the widest possible dissemination of licenses and to pursue diversity in ownership. it's been a value that's been widely shared for a long time. and the dat thata that i've sees not leave one with a good taste about ha wr we stand now as a country on that.
>> do you have ideas what we can do to try to make ownership of broadcast outlets more possible for minority interests? >> i think the first thing possibly is to make sure that we understand what's actually going on out there. i've been told that the data with respect to ownership now is not satisfactory and there's work that can be done to understand that. second, i think this is an area that lends itself to the sec running a process that's open and that's creative and looking for ways that are stublly permissible and that would actually work but that lead to a wide dissemination of licenses in diversity and ownership. >> yeah. i just think that policy goal of a more diverse spectrum is a
national goal that we should continue to try to do and i would be glad to work with you on how to get there. >> the second question is about broadband going out to reerl areas. this morning, this committee had a hearing on inez tenenbaum and her confirmation process. and she had real good ideas about how the cpsc can better communication dangers and recalls and safety and all this stuff to the general public. but one thing that struck me is most of her ideas -- not all, most of them dealt with people having broadband capability so they could receive this type of information from the cpsc. i would like to ask you about the broadband technology and opportunity program in the stimulus package.
do you know much about that? and do you have a sense about how that's going to be administ administered? >> my understanding is it's the commerce department and the agriculture department that have the grant-making authority, the sec as i understands it has p s responsibilities to consult with those agencies as they put together the plans for distributing the grant. >> is your understanding the sec is involved in that process? >> my understanding is there's been consultation, yes. >> and is it -- are you happy with what you hear on that? or do you think the fcc is going to be more involved and is it going to get to unserved areas? >> senator, i don't have any access to nonpublic information. from what i've heard publicly, i believe that active, healthy consultation processes are going forward. i think these kinds of activities are ways to
demonstrate how government can work together collaboratively to pursue a common end. the fcc is the expert agency around communications and our communications infrastructure. it's more than appropriate the fcc play a consultive role and it's something i would want to jump into if confirmed and work with you to understand ideas that you might have on the grant program. >> and lastly, i would like to ask you about something that's important to you as a parent and me as a parent and others in this room, parents and grand parents. we passed the child safe viewing act. i don't know if you know the history of that. are you familiar with that? >> i have some familiarity, but please -- >> basically when the v-chip bill passed way back when, i think '96, in i'm not mistaken. there was a requirement the fcc would continue to look at technology and see if this idea could be improved upon.
then a act that we passed recently in the last year or two basically mandated that the fcc do some -- open a case on it, basically. and i want to thank acting chair copps because he's done that. i understand you near a comment period right now. maybe even the second round of a comment period. given your background and all the things you've done, do you think it's time we review the v-chirp and not just the technology but the v-chip system that's in place. >> it's something that i've been concerned about. it's a challenging thing to
think about. i believe in the power of technology to help drive solutions here. this is a set of issues that shouldn't be ideological. this is about being sure that parents are empowered to make decisions about what their children see. and i have great hope for what technology can do to help parents here. exactly what the ideas are should come out of a healthy process out of the fcc. i hope it's creating great ideas. i would like to see what kind of incentives we should survive. >> mr. chairman, thank you.
>> senator begich. >> thank you very much. i will also be very interest ed in how you proceed. zo someone asked me what kind of shows have i watched recently. they started to them me about a sitcom they were watching. if it's not pbs, i have no clue unless it's a newscast. so i'm very interested as you proceed as the chair of fcc. you and i talked briefly about this and how important it is for our state, a very rural state. and i would like to describe here in this committee extreme rural as other people talk about rural states, the distance and the travel and the complexcy of the transportations of the climate conditions, create unique situations. i know there's talk of reform.
alaska, 100% tribal which gives it special considerations. i wonder how you feel about that policy and how tribal lands is recognized in how alaska fits into that. that and the reform the principle of universal service is a core principle of communications policy that goes back to the beginnings of the communications act that has been reinforced many times by congress. that is a priority of mine. i would like to see us have as much success in universal service and communications over the next 75 y
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