Nominee: Julius Genachowski, to be Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Nominee: Robert McDowell, to be a Commissioner of the FCC
John D. Rockefeller, IVSenatorCommunications technology is at the pulsing center of our new economy.For our nation to meet the challenges we face in education, health care, the environment, and to remain globally competitive, we will require top-notch communications infrastructure.Because good communications policy will lay the foundation for these noble goals, we need real expertise at the Federal Communications Commission.As I have said before, I believe that being an FCC Commissioner is one of the most difficult and most important jobs in Washington. It may also be among the most underappreciated.The powers of the FCC are vast. Its decisions impact every American.From the bills we pay for phone and cable services, to our ability to reach public safety in times of need.From the content that gets broadcast into millions of living rooms throughout America, to the broadband networks that can bring equal opportunities to our largest cities and our smallest rural hamlets – the FCC oversees it all.The decisions this agency makes are vital to our nation’s future.Because we entrust FCC Commissioners with these vast powers, we expect a lot from them.Yet over the last decade, the agency has disappointed.Too often FCC Commissioners have focused on making sure that the policies they advocate serve the needs of the companies they regulate and their bottom lines.Time and again, the FCC has shortchanged consumers and the public interest.The influence of special interests at the agency is especially troubling, even noteworthy in the distasteful way they clamor for their preferred candidates for FCC office.This is why I remain deeply interested in FCC reform. And this is why I continue to weigh the merits of FCC reauthorization.I want an FCC that is transparent, that inspires public confidence, and that makes our digital infrastructure a model for the world. Tragically, this has not been the case for some time.But if the past has been bleak, we have cause for optimism ahead. Because I have met the Administration’s nominee for Chairman and am thoroughly impressed.Mr. Genachowski brings to the job both public and private sector experience. He has enthusiasm for the power of communications. But the tasks before him are complex. The days undoubtedly will be long.So, Mr. Genachowski for your panel, let me be very clear about the challenge before you. Fix this agency, or we will fix it for you. Prove to us that the FCC is not battered beyond repair.Show us that the FCC can put consumers first and give them confidence that when they interact with the agency they will get a fair response.Show us that the American people can trust the data that the FCC produces and that it can guide us to good and honest policy.Show us that the American people can have affordable and robust broadband, no matter who they are or where they live.Show us that parents can have confidence to view programming in their homes without their children being exposed to violent and indecent contentShow us that the agency can think beyond its borders, work with industry and government to create jobs, expand entrepreneurship, grow educational resources, and improve healthcare.And that’s just for starters.So let me remind you that the Congress and the American people will look to you for results.I thank you for joining us today, for your willingness to serve, and I look forward to your testimony.
Kay Bailey HutchisonSenator
FCC NOMINATIONS HEARING
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison,
Ranking Member – Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
June 16, 2009
Thank you Mr. Chairman, and I would like to welcome the nominees and their families.
As we head into a new era at the FCC, I want to express my desire that the FCC’s commissioners work together as partners. We are at a critical point in our economic recovery, and the FCC has oversight over several key industries that directly impact the nation’s economy.
First, we must ensure that broadband reaches every part of the country. The FCC is currently developing a national broadband map – it is my strong desire that this map be used to bring broadband to unserved areas. I do not believe the government should seek to subsidize competition in so-called underserved areas before making sure that unserved rural Americans have the ability to access broadband for healthcare, education, and economic opportunity and growth.
Moreover, regulators must be careful not to impede progress in this sector by increasing burdens, especially where there is not a clearly demonstrated need for government intervention. In the late 1990’s, for example, we saw that unbridled government intervention in the some telecommunications markets could have a devastating impact. Simply put, regulatory intervention led to some of the largest bankruptcies in our nation’s history.
Second, broadcasters have long provided invaluable service to our nation – in addition to entertaining us, they deliver timely local news, free family and educational programming, and are one of the last lines of defense when natural disasters occur. As the marketplace evolves and broadcasters seek out new opportunities to change, I caution the FCC against increasing regulatory burdens and reporting requirements that will only make it more difficult for broadcasters to thrive. I come from broadcasting, and I cannot over-emphasize my belief that we need to nurture this industry, particularly as it proceeds through the recent DTV transition, and adapts to a reality of falling advertising revenue.
I also want to be clear that the FCC must remain vigilant in enforcing standards of decency over the airwaves. As a mother of two young children, I have a very personal stake in this issue – and as I travel across Texas, I see that all my constituents also care very deeply about this issue. The FCC must first be very clear about what the standards are, and then not hesitate to enforce them. I have had the pleasure of meeting with both of these nominees, they are good family men and I am confident that they share these concerns and are committed to this issue.
Third, I want to address the FCC’s processes. I often hear from my state that there are long delays at the FCC in responding to consumer issues, and that the rulemaking process needs to become more transparent. The FCC’s primary function is to serve the public interest – when a consumer needs assistance, the FCC should reasonably respond to each and every consumer. I do not want unrelated disagreements between commissioners to get in the way of serving individual Americans.
Lastly, and I hope the committee will forgive me for peeling open the net neutrality can-of-worms this early in the hearing, but I will be very interested to learn whether either of our nominees believe that any future network management proposals the FCC may consider should ensure that the industry retains the ability to halt copyright infringement. Theft of copyrighted works is a significant and ongoing problem on the Internet – and I am 100% committed to putting an end to it.
Upholding copyright protections is a critical aspect of promoting richness in programming and entertainment options, and an important driver of economic growth. I look forward to hearing how the nominees will approach this issue.
Thank you again Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to hearing from the nominees.
Witness Panel 1
The Honorable Julius GenachowskiChairmanFederal Communications Commission
Witness Panel 2
Mr. Robert C. McDowellMember - Designate (Reappointment)Federal Communications Commission