Statement by Senator Stevens on Commerce Committee Executive Session

July 19, 2007

“Mr. Chairman, thank you for working on a bipartisan basis to develop the measures that are on today’s agenda. I am pleased that the Committee will consider a number of important bills today. 
“S. 1769, the Same Number Act of 2007, would require the FCC to revisit its number portability rules and extend them to all applicable voice communications services. This will allow consumers to take advantage of the many choices currently available for voice services while retaining their phone numbers when making a change. I thank the Chairman for his cosponsorship of this bill. 
“S. 1780, the Protecting Children from Indecent Programming Act, would direct the FCC to adopt a policy in which fleeting images or profanity could be actionable. This measure is in response to a recent Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversal of the FCC policy that all fleeting uses of profanity are indecent.  This bill does not take a position on whether that FCC ruling was absolutely correct or not, but it does provide the FCC with the ability to examine fleeting indecency in context.  To say that a momentary image could never be fleeting seems extreme. Radio and broadcast TV are still the way most Americans get their news and entertainment. And whether sitting in a car with your children or in front of the TV, the America public should be able to expect that they will not be barraged with unexpected indecency, whether it is through an image or a word.
“S. 1492, the Broadband Data Improvement Act, recognizes that whether it be in Alaska or New York City, broadband plays a vital role in the economy and impacts the quality of life for Americans. I commend Chairman Inouye for his leadership on this issue, and for the changes that he has already made.  But while I support reporting the measure, I remain concerned that some in the industry view this mapping program as a way to marginalize the need to update universal service to support broadband in rural America, which appears to be the direction taken by the leading cable association, as well as some of the larger wireline carriers.
“I worry that the provisions addressing broadband speeds and smaller geographic areas in this bill could inadvertently paint a picture of an America without broadband that is not accurate.  I am not sure that Congress, rather than the FCC, should be getting into this level of detail, particularly given technological changes, such as compression technologies that could make these standards a moving target.  I also believe that as Congress explores ways to get more broadband into rural America, the focus should not be on streaming movies, but rather on ensuring the availability of distance learning and telemedicine research, which is possible today in Alaska.
“In addition, some parties have questioned whether the data collected will be adequately protected. If providers are not assured that there will not be any competitive harm to sharing the data and that it will not be used against them with respect to regulation the data that they share will be less helpful. I look forward to working with Chairman Inouye and my colleagues to continue to improve this bill after today’s markup.
“S. 1771, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, is designed to lessen the likelihood that any person, particularly a child, will become trapped by the suction of a pool or spa drain. We named this bill after Graeme Baker, who was tragically lost at the age of 7 in a spa accident in 2002. The Senate passed a similar bill last Congress and it narrowly lost in the House. I hope that the bill can be signed into law this year.”