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Commissioner Clyburn FCC Oversight Hearing Statement

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Released: March 12, 2013
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Statement of FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn

U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation

Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission

March 12, 2013

Chairman Rockefeller, Senator Thune, members of the Committee, thank

you for the opportunity to appear before you today. It is good to be back, and I

look forward to continuing to work with you and the new members in the years to

come, particularly Senator Scott from the great state of South Carolina.

When I sat before you during our last hearing, I was under consideration for

a second term on the FCC. Today I wish to thank you for your votes of confidence

in January.

I plan to maintain a strong focus on consumer protection, the need for robust

competition, and ways in which we can ensure that technology can advance key,

national objectives. In doing so, I wish to stress what I see as the primary role of

those sitting at this table, and for the providers we regulate.

Last week, I met with a Colorado broadcaster who summed it up perfectly.

We are trustees, both communications providers and regulators alike, each serving

this nation for a specific purpose. To the point, American consumers are in need of

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and will always benefit from world-class technology and innovation that often

comes from the private sector, but both must have assurances that the rules which

govern this space are timely, clear, and fair. No matter the product or service,

transparent rules must always be in place to protect all parties, ensuring that we all

are able to enjoy the advantages and opportunities these communications

technologies have to offer.

I believe we have worked hard to fulfill our side of this pact, with the

Commission and industry successfully communicating on how best to advance

universal service for voice and broadband, disabilities access to communications

technologies and services, and better delivery systems in the area of public safety.

Take for example our current review of the FCC’s media ownership rules.

My office has held dozens of meetings with both broadcasters and our friends in

the public interest community, who are both working to seek middle ground on a

number of core issues important to each side. We want to get the rules right, and I

am pleased that we are considering every possible option before making a final

judgment. I have long warned that it would be imprudent and negligent to change

any rule absent timely and comprehensive data regarding the impact on female and

minority broadcasters and diverse broadcast programming, and I am pleased that at

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least one organization has begun a study to that effect. As a steward of the public

interest, I feel duty-bound to consider all the facts as we fulfill our statutory

obligations.

The same can be said with regard to our roadmap for incentive auctions, and

our laser focus on a process that can empower the mobile wireless and broadcast

TV industries and provide sufficient funds to meet the public safety goals.

Chairman Genachowski has set forth a process that adheres to the statute you and

your colleagues in the House sent us last year, and we intend to fully comply with

the language and goals of the legislation. I will never lose sight of what I

mentioned moments ago, that we are co-trustees, and as such, we will continue to

work diligently with the broadcast industry and proceed in a way that carefully

considers the concerns of all stakeholders.

We also will not stop focusing on improving access to broadband networks

even in the most hard-to-serve areas of the nation, and the reforms of the Universal

Service Fund programs have been a significant priority for the agency to advance

that objective. While physical access is important, work is ongoing to promote the

adoption and use of broadband. Congress directed us to do so in Section 706 of the

Communications Act, along with our state commissions, and as my last act as

Chair of our Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Services, we hosted a

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summit in February to focus on the various adoption programs underway through

the Recovery Act funds, as well as other public and private sector efforts.

We highlighted a number of successful projects and the latest academic

thinking. What we have learned so far is that adoption has slowed in recent years,

and those consumers who have yet to adopt have multiple reasons for not doing so.

Cost remains a significant barrier, and convincing those who are non-digital

natives to get online typically involves a trusted local partner, digital literacy

training, and subsidized services and equipment if affordability is an issue. I am

pleased that the Commission’s Lifeline broadband pilot projects will lead to

additional data for the Commission to study in order to further advance adoption,

especially for low-income, senior and minority consumers. Moreover, I am

encouraged by private sector efforts committed to increasing broadband adoption

in disadvantaged communities. It is a matter of fairness, as one senior executive so

aptly stated. These are the communities that can be helped the most by high-speed

Internet access, and the public and private sectors should continue to work together

in order to better address this imperative. As a nation, we can ill-afford to leave

anyone behind.

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I am, as always, eager to share your objectives with our hardworking staff at

the FCC, and pledge to you that I will remain diligent and vigilant as a trustee of

the American people. Thank you again for this opportunity, and I look forward to

answering any questions you may have.

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