Chairman Rockefeller's Opening Remarks at FCC Nominations Hearing

Opening Statement – John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman

June 16, 2009

Communications 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 content
Show 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.