Washington, D.C. -- At the invitation of The Hill (a Capitol Hill newspaper), Senate Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens today was the featured speaker at their Telecom Breakfast.
Following is a transcript of Chairman Stevens' remarks: I do appreciate the opportunity to be here. We do have a Defense Appropriations Subcommittee meeting and then the final debate on ANWR starting at 9:30am. I’ve finished my job as Appropriation Chairman, you know. Let me just parenthetically there, that our State is one-fifth the size of the whole United States. Because of the withdrawals that were made by President Carter, there will never be north-south or east-west highways. We cannot go across those lands, or parks, or wildlife refuges or wilderness. We do our movement by air or by water. We found, as I became Chairman, that there are thousands of programs that affect the south-48 that we’ve never been included in because we were not included when we were a territory and we were never included by the agencies when we became a state because it was just too difficult for them. Take water and sewer for instance, 240 villages in rural Alaska who never got any assistance for water and sewer, yet every small farm community in the country got not only assistance, they got 100 percent financing for their water and sewer. So, as I started earmarking money for water and sewer programs to rural Alaska villages those became those earmarks that you mentioned, the additions to the budget, so to speak, but they really weren’t additions. We took money out of a large pot of water and sewer money for rural America and said put some of those in Alaska. Our schools in rural America operate because of universal service. We have tele-medicine and tele-education. In order to satisfy the requirements of No Child Left Behind, we have very trained people at our two Universities in Anchorage and Fairbanks who conduct classes daily and their taken by tele-education methods out to small schools that probably have 10, 12, 14 kids in one school house. And we have now, when I first went to the Senate there were absolutely no rural doctors serving in the Alaska Native people. Today there’s a health clinic, a community health aide, a program that I started by training high school dropouts, young women, in Nome and we now have trained people in every community and they’re tied together with tele-medicine concepts. And, should you have some problem in one of those villages you would go before a machine, and I don’t care what it is, a feeling, a woman might have a breast problem or you might think you have a broken bone. They’ll put you beside a machine and that will be taken by tele-medicine concepts to either Anchorage or even down to Phoenix for a secondary opinion and within minutes you’ll know whether you have a problem. All of those things came about because of the changes that I brought about by making sure that the monies that were available to all of the other states were available to the largest state in the union. And, if you don’t think it’s large just look at the map. Our State is larger than Spain, France, Germany, and Italy put together – more than three times the size of Texas. And, to represent a State like this is a 365-day-a-year job because there isn’t a day that goes by where there isn’t a crisis somewhere in that State that requires assistance from someone here to make sure that the federal agencies know they’re Americans and should be given the same treatment, the same consideration, as someone who might have stubbed their toe in Baltimore. It’s not easy job, let me put it that way. But, you know, as Saxby used to tell me, it’s all inside work and there’s no heavy lifting. So, he said, you’ll live a long time, just stay right here and he was right.
I’m supposed to talk about my new jobs as Chairman of the Commerce Committee. It’s a very interesting thing. Senator Inouye and I have been friends and have traveled together throughout the world as members of the Defense Subcommittee of Appropriations. And, as this came about, he became the Ranking Member on his side and I became Chairman and we just decided to do things the way we have always done them together and we became Co-Chairmen of this Committee. Now, that has not pleased some people, but it’s a fact. And, we printed our stationery and told people that’s a fact. If I’m not there, he is Chairman. And, we’re going to try to see if we can change the Commerce Committee to the concept of a partnership of a broad-based, consensus-seeking group to try and solve some of the problems we have. One of the first things that happened to me as the Chairman of the Committee was that the Inspector General of the Commerce Department asked to come see me and he told me that I ought to get to work because many of the basic laws that support commerce have been allowed to expire in recent years, have been sunsetted. It’s not that worrisome because as Appropriations Chairman, we funded them anyway. And, if programs are funded, they’re still alive, but it is a problem, and it will be a problem sometime out in the future, so we do want to have an opportunity to catch-up – we are playing catch-up. I should introduce Lisa Sutherland, who is our Chief of Staff and Christine Kurth, who is going to be working on communications in particular with me. Both were on Appropriations with me. As a matter of fact, Lisa has been in my office since she came as an intern and has moved on and on, was Chief of Staff in my Alaska office until she said she wanted to take a little less duty and go on the mommy track. So, she completed that and Robert’s doing well, so now she’s Chief of Staff for this Committee.
Let me just comment briefly on a few things about my job. I had a farewell lunch with Mike Powell just this was last week. I think he’s done a good job. We haven’t agreed with everything he’s done, but I think he worked hard to try and reform the system – the communications system that he had the job to supervise. He has done what a head of an independent agency should do. He’s tried to obtain the consensus to move forward under the Act, but he also agrees that the Act has to be revamped and I look forward to getting his advice as we go forward, although we haven’t been informed yet who’s going to take his place. We haven’t even been informed yet who is going to be named as the Chairman of the Commission. The current Commissioner, if the White House names a current Commissioner, either Kevin Martin or Kathleen Abernathy, then that will not require Senate confirmation, but we don’t know what will happen. There’s three vacancies potentially on the Commission – Powell’s seat, which is a Republican seat, Abernathy’s seat, which is Republican and has already expired, she could of course be reappointed, and Copp’s Democratic seat, which expires this summer. It’s no secret to anybody that I have recommended and Senator Inouye has joined me in recommending Earl Comstock to take one of the seats on that Commission. He was my assistant when we were working to try and revamp the basic law of 1934 in the Congress before the final version on ’96. I think he knows more about how the changes that were made and what the intents were than anyone because the key provisions of that bill, in my opinion still, were those that pertain to rural America and I do hope that he is one of the Commissioners that we are able to deal with. I have not been told what is going to happen. We have to consider the FCC authorization – now that’s one of those that expired, I guess you know. We have looked at that and one of the things that bothers me is the problems of the Sunshine Law, so to speak, as applied to this Commission. It’s sort of ludicrous in my opinion. This prohibits the five Commissioners from discussing policy, but allows their staff to meet all together. This pushes too much power to the staff and doesn’t allow the Commissioners to discuss the issues together at all. As a matter of fact, it prohibits the five Commissioners from attending conferences that discuss policy, even being in the audience together. It says that only two of them can be in the same room at one time. And, I’ve been told that at times, when another Commissioner wants to come in, one that’s there has to leave and go out in the hall and drink coffee, just listening to people present views. Not hearings – just listening to people present views. I think it really is a Sunshine Law gone awry. It’s sort of twilight for that Commission unless it gets the ability to really meet together and discuss things together. It’s not a question of acting together. It’s a question of being able to listen together and really, even to the point-of-view of being briefed on new technology – they have to be briefed separately. Now, I think that one Commissioner ought to be able what another Commissioner asks in terms of what is the affect of new technology. And, certainly we’re coming into a period of new technology.
Now, the House passed a bill last year dealing with indecency. It’s passed one again this year. Their bill this year is somewhat similar to ours of last year – the fine increases up to $500,000, there are fines on performers and the so-called three-strikes concept. I’m sure you know that the broadcasters oppose the provisions that exposes them to possible revocation of hearings after three strikes even if they were not responsible or didn’t have the capability of restraining the violation. We are considering opposition to recast what constitutes a strike. I’m not even sure I like the “strike.” I think we ought to talk about incidences rather than strikes. Somehow or other too many people are playing baseball, I guess. We want to add intent to that a little bit and we want to make sure that the broadcaster would have had a chance to prevent the violation and was not a victim of the violation. There are lots of things that go into this and I think that one of the things that I did was I mentioned the whole question of the level playing field. 85 percent of (tv) sets that Americans look at today are brought into the home by cable now. At the time of the courts decision, cable was just one of the ways in and we had basically over-the-air broadcasting. Now, we have must-carry on those cable lines and I think when a viewer looks at the television set, there’s no way to really comprehend what is the source of the signal that they’re watching. We want to find some way to give parents control over what they’re children watch, quite similar to what the Motion Picture people did years ago. We had the same problem with motion pictures years ago and someone was suggesting what amounted to censorship and to their great credit they got together and developed the rating system and I think it’s worked fairly well. I think people can understand from the advanced advertising, from the advertising outside of theaters, what is the content of movies and know whether to let their children go. As a matter of fact, the theaters themselves have adopted a policy of having an adult when they know the particular movie that they want to see does contain such material they shouldn’t be exposed to. So, we’re working across the board. Senator Rockefeller has a new proposal. I just got to look at it last night as a matter of fact. It’s rather detailed – not far off from what we’re talking about. We just happen to have wives who are both involved in a public broadcasting board, so we have some advice at home about what to do and what not to do, but we’re going to have to find some way to work this out. It’s not a question of censorship. I met with the head of NCTA and we have sent people – staff has gone out to Comcast to review their new technologies, which allow blocking of indecent or profane broadcasts. But, the difficulty is the burden is on the individual to do that and with busy families, 75 percent of our women working outside the home, the final decision of what they’re going to view is made by children at home. And, the idea that somehow or other you only have to protect children until 7 o’clock or something like that, that doesn’t work in terms of the hours that children lead these days, particularly with two working parents. We want a way to have the parents make decision as to what their children will watch and know that in advance and I think that the cable system can do it going in, just like the movie people did and we wouldn’t have any trouble at all. Now, maybe other people would, but I don’t think our Committee would and we’re looking forward to seeing what the result will be from that request and I intend to work with Senator Rockefeller as soon as we get back to go through his proposal if it’s necessary. I really don’t believe it’s necessary. I’m going to stop in San Francisco at the cable convention and I do believe it’s time that cable really introduces a new system and that is a tiered system with one tier that has the must-carry items in it and has the public service items in it and beyond that, that’s just a basic payment for bringing television into the house a new way. All other things would be bought, purchased and we’re not going to control those at all. We just want people to know in advance what they’re buying. And, we also want people who object to all but say one or two of those programs within a package not to have to pay for the whole package in order to get the one or two things children couldn’t watch. I don’t know, we’ll move onto that if you have any questions.
Digital transition is moving. The House is probably going to move first. I commend them, by the way. They’re really going at these subjects very well, very hard. They don’t have a changed Committee. We have a learning curve going on now and I think we’ll catch up with them. We’ve asked the broadcasters for their input on how we might advance the objective of completing the digital transition by the time the House seeks, which is 2006 or as soon as they possibly could. And, we do not want to have over-the-air broadcaster prematurely cut off and we want to make certain that we’re dealing with a public that has access to the digital sets. I am a little disturbed that the manufacturers of televisions are still selling analog sets, you know, at discounts and what not. I’m from the betamax crowd so you understand how I feel about that. I put my money into betamax and find out I can’t even find a way to give away the box, let alone the camera. We don’t want that to happen to another generation of people, that they buy something they can’t use. I’ve asked Mitch Rose, another person who used to be my chief of staff, he’s at ABC now, to see if he can help get those discussions off the dime and get some input from the broadcasters on what we can do and bring about that transition earlier. Now, quickly some of the other issues are the problems of whether we should go into the possibility of buying the boxes. I hope we don’t have to do that. I’d rather see manufacturers find someway to step into this. We may have to buy boxes in order to convert analog and move the spectrum transition along.
The spectrum auction reauthorization has to go forward. This budget resolution before us now requires me to raise $2.7 billion in new revenues. That can only be done by auctions, by spectrum. I don’t know if you know that I was the one who suggested auctions of spectrum, coming my experience as solicitor of the Interior Department when we used to auction off oil and gas leases which were abandoned by the person they were originally issued to. And, we were told it was not such a good idea (spectrum auctions). CBO said it might raise $250 million. I’m sure you know the first auction was in the billions and they continue to raise billions. We believe that we will reauthorize spectrum auctions and we have a series of recommendations coming at us now on ways to make that more complicated in terms of whether it should be leasing the spectrum or having the spectrum subject to strings. We’re going to take a long look at that. We want stability in the industry and we do not want to increase the way in which the Commission could harass the owners of spectrum in order to secure compliance with some things that might be questionable as far as the industry is concerned. We’ve got ideas of basing the payment instead of cash in advance, having it become like an oil and gas well, you pay royalty on what you actually produce, and it might be possible to put a royalty on income from spectrum. There are other suggestions to limit licenses to 10 years, with a 10-year renewable option and we actually allow Federal agencies to look at this too. They are exploring ways to lease or sublease spectrum to the private sector, which they do not need now, but might need in the future, that would free up a tremendous amount of spectrum very quickly. There are other ideas out there and if you have any I’ll be glad to consider them.
Dan and I decided we’d have listening sessions. I know some people of the press don’t like that. We listen in terms of having people describe to us new technology. For instance, I had to go do it myself and have a session with technical people and producers explain to me the ramifications of VoIP. If you haven’t done that, I invite you to do it. It’s one tremendous new development and you can’t get that in a hearing. And you have to be able to ask stupid questions that you wouldn’t want on the tube because it takes a while for that to sink through. We are going to have more of those. We’ve had one listening session with AT&T and SBC, just to explain what was going on in the merger, not to have us react, in other words, just to answer questions about the merger and that’s gone fairly well. We’re going to hold off our decision on whether or not to hold a hearing on that until after the recess. There is still a question of whether or not MCI is going to entertain the offer from Qwest, whether it will stick to the agreement that was partially made with Verizon. We think we have to wait until that is more mature for us to be involved. We do have another listening session. We’re going out to celebrate an anniversary for my old friend Warren Magnuson and while there in Seattle, we’re going over to Microsoft. They have a house of the future if you haven’t seen it. I saw it five years ago and want to see what it looks like now. But, it is one that’s incorporated a whole series of new technologies and to demonstrate what can happen off in the future. The cable show at San Francisco should give us a series of opportunities to meet with people and we plan to go to Chicago, New Jersey, probably down south – maybe Atlanta. But, we’re going to go several places and listen and then we’re going to come back and decide what we should do for approaching this bill. Senator Lott has suggested to me that at time we have a retreat for our Committee Members and key staff only and go somewhere and spend a weekend and discuss what we’ve each seen, because it’s not very often that all of our members are at the same listening session. But, we do believe that if we have a retreat, we’ll then have what I call a show-and-tell session. You all remember show and tell when you were kids. Well, many of us are of that age with regard to this new technology, so we’re going to have, if we have this retreat, we’re going to have one afternoon where we ask those people who have new technology that is portable to come show it to us and explain it to us. There are no preconceived ideas in this Committee now. Dan and I have kept communications at the full Committee and that was with the full approval of Senator McCain – he kept it at the Full Committee, as a matter of fact. And, the idea is that it is so broad and there are now so many things, we just don’t want to have one subcommittee with other people sitting out and saying they’re not part of it. If it’s Full Committee, it’s the responsibility of every member to attend these and if they’re able to attend them, they’re already members of the Committee that are reviewing the process. So, I think that it’s a concept that will work, I hope will work and I hope that we’ll have your support as we try to go through this process.
In closing, let me tell you this one thing. As a minority member of this Committee years ago I watched Glenn Bell of Maryland take on the subject of Olympics. You may remember our pole vaulter was disqualified because his pole bent. One other person was disqualified because they’d taken Tylenol the night before a race and Glenn thought we ought to have a U.S. Olympic Committee. He tried. He ran smack into the AAU, who disagreed with the things he was doing and they literally defeated him. The next time around, the next Congress, also a member of the Committee, Marlow Cook of Kentucky took it on because he thought that we should be able to achieve something. He had a series of hearings all over the country and he ran into NCAA, which is a very powerful think in Kentucky. And, when they disagreed with him, they defeated him. Came back the third Congress and Senator Magnuson who called me son, he said, “Son, I want you to take this on.” I was his northern neighbor and we traveled back and forth together and I said, “Maggie, I thought you liked me. Look at what happened to those other two guys.” He said, “Just take it on, but do it your way, do it your way.” So, I said, “Alright, as long as I can do it my way and you won’t require us to have hearings until I am ready, I’ll do it.” And, we had listening sessions in the Committee room and listening sessions around the country – NGOs, athletes, former members of the IOC – and we did it for about nine months and finally we started to have meetings around the clock in the Commerce Committee. When we finished that process, I told them we were ready to go. We had one day of hearing, took the bill to the floor, had one day on the floor, it passed, we took it over to the House, they had one day of hearing, took it out to the floor and it passed without an amendment. Now, what I’m telling you I think this process can work better if we’re allowed the leeway of trying to learn what the problem is and then work with one another to find out what the solutions are and finally come to consensus on how to do it. And, that’s what we’re going to try to do with the ’96 Act. I can’t tell you we want to replace it, or we want to amend it, or what we want to do with it really. There may be others that have a viewpoint, but Dan and I have no fixed, firm view of what has to be done. We just know there’s new technology coming and that the ’96 Act has already sort of become outmoded in the nine years since its passed. The ’34 Act lived through to ’96 and survived barely in the last few days. We don’t know how long it’s going to be before the ’96 At really hampers the expansion and modernization and development of new technology, that’s what we want to do in this Congress, come to the conclusion if anything needs to be done and what needs to be done and try to get the Congress to agree with us. Now, if you have any questions for me, I’ll be glad to try to answer them.
Q&A following speech: Question: I promised to get Senator Stevens out of here at 9:15, but maybe we’ll ask him to stretch it a little bit. In asking your questions, if you would state your affiliation. I also committed an oversight, I should have introduced by colleague, our associate publisher, Fran McMahon. It’s a serious oversight because she sells the ads that pay my salary. I think we’re very privileged to hear from someone who I think it is fair to say will be regarded as one of the giants of the Senate if and when he ever leaves the Senate. I’m going to ask the first question Senator Stevens, which is how is the ANWR vote going to come out?
Chairman Stevens: Right now, I wish I knew. I’ve got my tie on to sort of convince people that I know it’s a tough day. This is my Incredible Hulk tie, which has been a good mainstay for me. Nine out of the ten times when I’ve worn it, I’ve won. We think it’s very close. There are two people who we really don’t know what they’re going to do. If they do what we thought they were going to do, it’ll be a 50-50 vote and that will stay in. We are using this process because the agreement that I reached with Senators Tsongas and Jackson in 1980, that we’d have a process that would lead to opening ANWR if we found that there would be no significant harm to the environment. We’ve never been able to get to it because we’ve had a filibuster every Congress. And, I finally convinced the Budget Committee to put it in. Last year we put it in the Budget Committee, it was knocked out. This year we again have it in the Budget Committee – there are all kinds of screams that this has never been done, which is not true. But, if it stays in the Budget Resolution we’ll be able to use the Reconciliation Act and finally bring about opening of that area. It’s important to you. There’s a lot people spreading a lot of things out there that are crazy. I gave a statistic last night. There’s enough oil that’s going to come down that pipeline, if we’re successful, to fill every car’s gas tank 117 times a year. Now, people tell us that’s not enough oil – that’s four percent of the world’s oil. But, we used to put 2.1 million barrels a day down that, we’re putting down there somewhere between 750 and 950 barrels a day, depending on supply. The ANWR area – it was the key area in the very beginning. This was actually an area that was set aside when I was in the Interior Department, I helped write the order – the Arctic Wildlife Range – under a section that specifically said oil and gas development can take place under stipulations to protect the fish and wildlife. And, when the 1980 Act passed, it was specifically excluded from the Wildlife refuge or 1.5 million acres, but this says that we can’t issue oil and gas leases in that area until Congress approves of the Environmental Impact Statement. Twice Congress has passed the bill and its been vetoed by Presidents. Twice Presidents have asked the Congress to pass a bill and its been filibustered. It’s been an issue every year now since 1980.
Question: On this cable indecency issue, I think you said something new today. Could you elaborate on your point about how a cable customer who bought a package, but found channels in it objectionable or inappropriate to children, should just be able to block those channels and not have to pay for them? Chairman
Stevens: I haven’t found a way to do that. What I’ve suggested is there be tiers and purchasers be allowed to know what’s in each tier. The industry says that they can, they will give them the right to block those, anything they don’t want, but the complaint has been to me, from the consumers, that if they do that they’ll still have to pay for those channels they blocked. I hope this will convince the industry to prepare tiers that are sort of increasingly graded in terms of the kind of material that other people find, you know, inappropriate for their children or their families. I told the broadcasters I was sitting the other night, writing my mail, I suddenly became aware of, I just sort of listen peripherally, you know reading my mail, and I was hearing nothing but participles or four letter words. And I swear I think I heard five sentences and there wasn’t one non-dirty word. Now, you know, I served in the Service and I know what it means not to have a full vocabulary and using four letter words in its place. People who write stories like that ought to be able to write what they want to write without participles and without so much stuff. Now, that was supposed to be a family movie, that was a family movie, about eight o’clock at night.
Question: Just so I’m clear, on March 1st, you told NAB, you indicated that you wanted a straight application of broadcast indecency rules to cable. But, you don’t seem to be saying that anymore.
Chairman Stevens: No, I didn’t say it straight. That may be what you heard, but I did not say that. What I said was I wanted the cable to understand they’re delivering both their cable, which is paid for, but they’re also delivering the over-the-air must-carry and there is an obligation to be able to separate that out, so that people will know what they’re getting. Now, if you interpreted that, that is not what I said. I never said that they should have the same rules apply to them that apply to over-the air broadcasters. I’ve said there ought to be a level playing field and that when people watch that set, they ought to be able to understand which channels they are not going to see that stuff on and be able to set it so that they can prevent their children from seeing it or just not buy it at all. I think the problem is, is that, some of these packages are salted with something that you want to watch to with your child, but it has other things which you wouldn’t want to watch with your child. So, you’re going to be asked to block out the ones you don’t want, or maybe have a key so when they’re in bed you can turn it on. But, in today’s viewing public, I think that’s not acceptable. How many of you have kids? I have six kids. How many of them all go to bed by eight o’clock? When you live in Alaska where the sun doesn’t go down in the summer time and they’re out there all night, literally, playing, running back in forth, they’re out of school. I can remember seeing my kids watching television at two and three in the morning. This is not something that is done by the clock in my opinion.
Question: I’m wondering if you’ve chatted with Chairman Barton and Upton in the House about a Telecom rewrite because they seem very definite that a bill is desperately finitely needed and they seem to be moving forward and want to have a bill passed…
Chairman Stevens: Well, I applaud them and I think, they can do it a lot easier than we can do it. They just sit down in the majority and decide what they are going to do and they do it and bring it over to us. I’ve got a bill that has to pass the floor and face a filibuster if we don’t do it right and I don’t want that. I applaud what they’re doing. We’ll know exactly what they’re going. I think that we’ll have a bill ready to go out to the floor sometime by the end of June or July. I expect to be able to go to conference with them sometime this fall. It depends on how our people respond to these listening sessions, but we expect a bill this year. And, I really think that they’ve been right on. They’ve moved very quickly on the indecency and I’ve been thinking last night and today, this morning in some conversations, that maybe we shouldn’t be holding up what they’ve done. Maybe we should go ahead and find some way to deal with their bill. I couldn’t get it out of Committee as they wished us to do. We couldn’t hold it at the desk, there were objections, so we’ll have to have a markup. If we decide to proceed without the changes that I’m talking about for cable, we might be able to do that right after the election. I’m going to talk to the Chairman over there because I respect him very much. I’ve talked with him. I think he’s working very hard and is going to be a good partner. We’re going to produce a bill, I think the public will like.
Question: We spoke about this earlier, but can you elaborate further on your views of whether the mergers of the telecom industry will help or hurt the Universal Service Fund?
Chairman Stevens: No, I can’t because I don’t know enough about them yet. I told you we ask questions and now we have these other bids that are there. I don’t think it’s time for us to be involved yet. I like to be involved when deals are announced as being done. There’s still uncertainty in our mind who we’re dealing with.
Question: Well, let’s just rephrase that and say, is concentration in the telecom industry helpful or hurtful in your view to the Universal Service Fund, leaving aside the specific mergers?
Chairman Stevens: Well, I don’t want to sound too strange about this, but from where we sit right now, they’re going to have to agree to Universal Service. We’re not worried about Universal Service. They should be worried about Universal Service. It will survive.
Question: You mentioned Senator Rockefeller’s bill, which includes provisions regarding violent programming. Are you willing to consider extending, or including violent programming in whatever type of indecency bill you work through the Committee?
Chairman Stevens: He has violence, and we do have violence ratings you know, in the movies. I think he’s on the right track, as a matter of fact, I look forward to – he gave me this fact sheet just yesterday, I think. I look forward to talking to him about it. I think he’s right on and I haven’t shown this to Dan yet, but I will, we’re going to have a hearing in just a few minutes. I believe that violence is part of it. Anyone else, yes?
Question: Leaving aside the indecency, what do you see as the priorities for the Telecom Act as far as deregulation an changes in the authority of the FCC?
Chairman Stevens: Well that would be very hard to say, you know, what priorities are. I think the greatest priority is, is to understand what is happening in the industry from the point-of-view of the new systems of communication. Now, some people say they’re not communicating. I believe it’s communication if you take an input, a message someone wants to send and it comes out somewhere else and it’s delivered – now that’s communication. We had a Communications Act, I thought. Many people think they can get away from that by having a different way they approach putting these things into symbols and sending them through the air. I don’t. I think we’re looking for a Communications Act and that Act will cover all forms of communications and try to level the playing field for those who are involved in it. Now, I don’t think that one should escape for instance Universal Service and say that’s not communication. Or like, the calling card did, just put a little snippet on it and if you hear a little sound saying you can buy these cards at Walmart, it’s not a card that is dealing with communication, that was an information card they said. That’s a lot of baloney. We want to make sure that it is a level playing field as we go forward. I probably shouldn’t say, but take this indecency thing, as I was talking to Mike Powell, you know, it takes a lot of time for a Commission to sit around and listen to indecency charges. One of the things I’m looking at is to try to find some way to create a panel that works for FCC that is kind of like a bunch of trial judges and they hear that stuff. And, if they think there is something serious enough to warrant Commission action, they make recommendations and then the parties can appear before the FCC, but that would happen, you know, once out of a hundred times, if you handle it right. This thing could get to the point where all the FCC does is become a traffic cop on decency. I wish we’d talk more about decency than indecency. All we want is decent television that our children can see and that those of us who believe in certain lifestyles will understand.
Question: I just want to be sure that I’m understanding your vision about this ratings and cable. Senator McCain had been in favor of ala carte pricing for cable. You’re not saying that. You want tiers that would be rated, there could be like a G tier, a PG, and R level. Is that what you’re saying?
Chairman Stevens: I’m not laying down any guidelines. I’m asking the industry to do what the movie industry did. Find a way to meet the outcry from the public and give us a package that we think we can say, that’s great, if that is followed, we agree. I told them the other day, I can envision a situation where we’ll say we’re not going to legislate any further on decency because this system will work. I think it can happen. As I said, the last thing we want to do is find that FCC is spending all of it’s time hearing complaints about a woman baring her breast or someone mooning some guy in a movie. You know, that’s not what they’re meant to do. That’s not what they’re there for. They’re there to regulate the industry and the fairness of the industry and see that there is fairness as far as application of the basic laws. We haven’t laid down any ground rules. We haven’t said if you do this, this, and this we’ll pass it. We asked them to tell us when they’re ready to talk and that’s why I’m stopping in California, which, incidentally, two more days and I am off on my honeymoon, alright. We’ve only been married 25 years. We did not have a honeymoon, it’s a long story, but anyway I had to go to China for Howard baker when Joy was sick right after we were married. So, we’ve decided to take a honeymoon. On the way back from the honeymoon, I think I’ll be in a better frame-of-mind, I hope and I’ll talk to the industry in San Francisco, ok? Thank you all very much.
Question: Inaudible, but concerns legislating a hard date for DTV transition
Chairman Stevens: Well, we’re trying to work that out to his satisfaction. As I said, if we can find a way to get to ’06 through sort of an industry agreement that will work, yeah, I’m willing to work with them.