Rockefeller Remarks on the Emergence of Online Video

April 24, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C.— This hearing is about the emergence of online video—and the power of broadband to change the way we watch.  This is the start of an exciting and timely conversation.

Why?  Because television is a tremendous force.  At its best, it can do more than entertain—it can educate.  

But not all television programming is enlightening.  Nor is it all fit for children’s viewing.  And in a global age, I’m concerned that the video content we produce does not present our best face to the world.

So my first question is how will the disruptive technology that online viewing provides lead to better content and more consumer choice?  But more than content is at issue here.

Because year-in and year-out consumers face rate increases for pay television that are rising faster than the rate of inflation.  We’re paying for so many channels, though we usually only watch a few.  So I want to know if the emergence of online video will do more than improve content and expand choice.  I want to know if it will bring a halt to escalating bills.

One other point I want to make here: I’ve said forcefully in the past that too much television programming is crude and a poor reflection of our society.  Although this hearing is not focused on that topic, I want to remind everyone here that it’s a topic I care deeply about and will not stop talking about until it becomes better.

Right now, the question is, how do we harness this change for the power of consumers so we can get higher quality programming at lower rates?

To our witnesses, I look forward to your thoughts on this subject, and I thank you for joining us today.