Testimony of Commissioner McDowell, FCC Oversight Hearing
COMMISSIONER ROBERT M. MCDOWELL
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
UNITED STATES SENATE
COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
MAY 16, 2012
Thank you, Chairman Rockefeller, Ranking Member Hutchison, and Members of
the Committee for inviting me to join you today. I have served as an FCC commissioner
for nearly six years, and every day has been a privilege. Nearly four and a half years
have passed since the full Commission has had the opportunity to appear before your
Committee, and I am pleased to be back before you. As always, I look forward to
answering any questions you may have.
Today’s hearing marks the first time the five of us have appeared together as the
new fully-intact FCC. Accordingly, it is a great pleasure to officially welcome our new
colleagues, Commissioners Rosenworcel and Pai.
We have plenty of work to do together in the coming months and years. I believe
that America’s future is bright when it comes to putting the power of new
communications technologies into the hands of consumers. For instance, we are in the
early days of the Golden Age of mobile broadband. America has always led the world
when it comes to wireless innovation and if we choose the correct policies we will further
strengthen America’s global leadership.
For example, the United States has approximately 21 percent of the world’s
3G/4G subscribers and approximately 69 percent of the world’s entire LTE subscribers
even though the population in the United States is less than five percent of the global
population.1 American wireless providers are also investing more in their infrastructure
than their international counterparts. In 2011, over $25 billion was invested in United
States’ wireless infrastructure2 versus $18.6 billion invested in 15 European countries
Furthermore, the American mobile market enjoys more competition than most
international markets. According to the most recent FCC statistics, nine out of ten
American consumers have a choice of at least five wireless service providers.4 In
Europe, that number is around three.5 As a result, American consumers enjoy lower
prices and higher mobile usage rates as compared to consumers in the European Union
1 See INFORMA TELECOMS AND MEDIA (WCIS Database) (Dec. 2011).
2 See CTIA-THE WIRELESS ASSOC., CTIA SEMI-ANNUAL WIRELESS INDUSTRY SURVEY (2012),
http://www.ctia.org/advocacy/research/index.cfm/AID/10316; see also CTIA-THE WIRELESS ASSOC.,
SEMI-ANNUAL 2011 TOP-LINE SURVEY RESULTS 10 (2012) (last visited May 14, 2012),
http://files.ctia.org/pdf/CTIA_Survey_Year_End_2011_Graphics.pdf (providing cumulative capital
investment numbers) (last visited May 14, 2012).
3 See BOA /MERRILL LYNCH EUROPEAN TELECOMS MATRIX Q112 (Mar. 30, 2012) (GLOBAL TELECOMS
MATRIX Q112) (estimating €14,368 YE 2011. Conversion at $1.2948/1€). The European countries
included in the Matrix: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands,
Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and UK; there are 27 members of the European Union
4 Implementation of Section 6002(b) of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, Annual Report
and Analysis of Competitive Market Conditions with Respect to Mobile Wireless, including Commercial
Mobile Services, WT Docket No. 10-133, Fifteenth Report, 26 FCC Rcd 9664, 9669 (2011).
5 See GLOBAL TELECOMS MATRIX Q112.
(EU) – 4 cents per minute versus 17 cents generally in the EU.6 Wireless subscriber
usage on average in the United States is often three to seven times as much compared to
some countries.7 At the same time, American consum
ers pay at least one-third less
consumers in many other parts of the world.8 America’s light touch regulatory policy for
mobile technologies has enabled our wireless sector to flourish and lead the world.
Policy makers should keep this important history in mind when contemplating the
wireless industry’s regulatory future.
Combining the power of the Internet with the freedom that comes from wireless
mobility has created new economic and political opportunities that were unimaginable
just six years ago when I was first appointed to the FCC. Competition, private sector
leadership and regulatory liberalization have wrought a wonderful explosion of
entrepreneurial brilliance, economic growth and political change that is improving the
human condition across the globe.
Against this backdrop, I will discuss three broad initiatives that, if pursued
effectively, will encourage, rather than discourage this impressive trajectory in mobile
broadband deployment and use: (1) implementing the new spectrum law enacted with an
eye toward simplicity, humility, and regulatory restraint; (2) identifying and engaging in
an aggressive and coordinated effort to free up spectrum held by the federal government;
and (3) fostering greater spectral efficiency.
Next, I will: review the FCC’s efforts to expand broadband availability to
unserved Americans through our recent reform of Universal Service Fund (USF)
distributions; show how the new digital economy has rendered many media ownership
regulations obsolete; discuss how reforming the Commission’s procedures would ensure
greater efficiencies; and elaborate on my concerns over new global efforts to have the
International Telecommunication Union (ITU) regulate the Internet.
THE FCC SHOULD IMPLEMENT THE NEW SPECTRUM LAW WITH SIMPLICITY,
HUMILITY AND RESTRAINT.
As noted earlier, Americans are increasingly integrating the use of sophisticated
mobile devices into their daily lives. While the popularity and power of mobility has
ushered in vast consumer benefits, this new reliance on wireless services has increasingly
strained our spectrum capacity. As you know, Congress passed legislation in February
that originated in your Committee, which, among other things, included a voluntary
incentive auction for our nation’s television broadcasters.9 This initiative will put new
6 Roger Entner, The Wireless Industry: The Essential Engine of U.S. Economic Growth, RECON
ANALYTICS, at 1 (May 2012), http://reconanalytics.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Wireless-The-
Ubiquitous-Engine-by-Recon-Analytics-1.pdf ) (last visited May 14, 2012).
7 See GLOBAL TELECOMS MATRIX Q112 at 71.
8 See id.
9 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Pub. L. No. 112-96, §§ 6402-6404, 126 Stat. 156,
spectrum into the hands of our nation’s consumers. Congratulations on that bipartisan
and historic achievement.
As a result of your work, the Commission has commenced the implementation of
that law which will result in the most complicated spectrum auction, or auctions, in world
history. Vital to a successful effort, we should undertake our work with an eye toward
simplicity and restraint. In the past, regulatory efforts to over-engineer spectrum auctions
have caused harmful, unintended consequences. I hope that we will learn from our own
history so we can avoid missteps by implementing the law with regulatory humility. In
doing so, new auction rules will be appropriately minimal and “future proof” and allow
for uses that we cannot imagine today as technology and consumer choices evolve. For
instance, new rules should include band plans that offer opportunities for small, medium
and large companies to bid for and secure licenses without having to exclude any player
from the auctions.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD RELINQUISH MORE SPECTRUM FOR AUCTION.
In addition to making television broadcast spectrum available for new and
innovative service offerings, we must work together to identify opportunities to move
federal government users into new spectrum bands. As our colleagues at the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have recently reported,
various federal government operations are employing spectrum located within the 1755 –
1850 MHz range that could be made available for commercial uses.10
NTIA made a valuable contribution to this effort, especially in setting forth the
issues at hand. Although I commend the team at NTIA for their thorough and thoughtful
work, I look forward to further analysis on the cost and timing estimates in particular.11
Greater clarity in the cost assumptions underlying the report would go a long way to
create greater certainty in the marketplace as we attempt to satisfy longer-term
commercial spectrum needs.
THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD ADOPT POLICIES THAT WILL ALLOW FOR ACCELERATED
IMPROVEMENTS IN SPECTRAL EFFICIENCY.
While we identify and analyze the complex issues that will arise as we implement
the new spectrum legislation, I will continue to call for an increased focus on
technologies and strategies to improve spectral efficiency. Greater emphasis and
education in this area will improve the ability of mobile service providers, engineers,
application and content developers as well as consumers to take better advantage of the
immediate fixes already available in the marketplace. Spectral efficiency solutions
include more robust deployment of enhanced antenna systems; improved development,
10 U.S. DEPT. OF COMMERCE, AN ASSESSMENT OF THE VIABILITY OF ACCOMMODATING WIRELESS
BROADBAND IN THE 1755-1850 MHZ BAND (Mar. 2012) (“NTIA Report”).
11 The NTIA Report states that moving some commercial users could cost $18 billion and take 10 years.
Id. at iii.
testing and roll-out of creative technologies where appropriate, such as cognitive radios;
and enhanced consideration of, and more targeted consumer education on, the use of
femto cells. Each of these technological options augments capacity and coverage, which
is especially important for data and multimedia transmissions. The Commission’s recent
workshop on receiver standards is a step in the right direction.
I am pleased that we are beginning to discuss spectrum sharing in a meaningful
way. Although the term “sharing” has yet to be defined in the context of current
deliberations, I have consistently encouraged FCC efforts to promote a form of sharing –
for instance, I have strongly supported our work to promote unlicensed use of the “TV
white spaces” within the 700 MHz Band,12 the 400 MHz Band,13 and the 5 GHz Band.14
Although highly technical in nature, these sharing protocols, once brought to fruition,
will appear seamless to consumers while they enjoy higher speeds and expanded
coverage when making mobile connections. Moreover, the services offered in these
bands have the potential to add many billions of dollars to the U.S. economy and to
become essential components of the mobile broadband marketplace. For instance,
unlicensed use of white spaces could serve as an “off ramp” for wireless traffic
experiencing congestion on licensed routes just as Wi-Fi is increasingly being used to
circumnavigate clogged channels.
Equally important, as policy makers, we should emphasize techniques and
strategies to improve spectral efficiency. In practical terms, even if we could easily
identify 500 megahertz of quality spectrum to reallocate today, we should expect the
better part of a decade to transpire before consumers could enjoy the benefits. As history
illustrates, it takes time to write proposed auction rules and band plans, analyze public
comment, adopt rules, hold auctions, collect the proceeds, clear the bands, and watch
carriers build out and turn on their networks. In the meantime, as powerful new
applications consume more wireless bandwidth making it easier for innovators to create
and deploy new technologies, enhancing more efficient use of the airwaves has to be a
top priority for all of us.
12 See, e.g., Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands, ET Docket No. 04-186, Additional Spectrum
for Unlicensed Devices Below 900 MHz and in the 3 GHz Band, ET Docket No. 02-380, Second
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 25 FCC Rcd 18661 (2010) (using unused and under-used spectrum held
by licensed and unlicensed commercial incumbents for the purpose of developing new low power wireless
13 Amendment of Parts 2 and 95 of the Commission's Rules to Provide Additional Spectrum for the
Medical Device Radiocommunication Service in the 413-417 MHz Band, ET Docket No. 09-36, Report
and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 16605 (2011) (sharing spectrum with federal government users for the purpose of
developing and employing implantable medical devices that have a wide range of operations, including
restoring movement to paralyzed limbs).
14 See, e.g., Revision of Parts 2 and 15 of the Commission's Rules to Permit Unlicensed National
Information Infrastructure (U-NII) devices in the 5 GHz Band, Memorandum Opinion and Order, ET
Docket No. 03-122, 21 FCC Rcd 7672 (2006) (sharing spectrum with federal government users for the
purpose of developing and employing Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII), which
provides short-range, high-speed wireless connections).
WE MUST CONTINUE OUR WORK ON UNIVERSAL SERVICE REFORM.
Before last fall, the challenge of solving the seemingly intractable USF and
intercarrier compensation puzzle had cast a shadow over the FCC for more than a decade.
During my time as a commissioner, I have tried to learn about the practical realities of the
program by holding productive policy discussions with multiple stakeholders not only in
America’s least populated and remote regions but also in urban and suburban areas where
customers pay rates above costs to subsidize rural consumers. After years of fact
gathering and analysis, with a unanimous vote, the Commission finally modernized the
high cost portion of the USF. As a result, we bent the spending curve on a federal
entitlement by imposing a strict budget on the former high cost fund for the first time in
the fund’s history.
Historically, the high cost fund only supported traditional telecommunications
services and did not directly support the deployment of broadband. Also, the program
has grown tremendously over the years without promoting efficiency. For example, the
high cost fund subsidized multiple providers in the same area while other parts of our
nation still remained unserved. Furthermore, the old structure allowed providers to
receive subsidies to serve areas that were already served by unsubsidized competitors. In
part, due to these and other inefficiencies, the high cost fund grew from $1.69 billion in
1998 to over $4 billion by the end of last year.15
The FCC’s reform efforts last fall addressed these issues, among many others, and
transformed the high cost fund into one that will support next-generation communications
technologies, while also keeping a lid on spending.16 Chairman Genachowski and
15 Similarly, the aggregate amount spent on all USF programs grew from $3.66 billion in 1998 to over $8
billion through 2011. Sources: Federal Communications Commission and Universal Service
16 The Commission not only has broad authority to repurpose support to advanced services but a duty to do
so as well as handed to us by the plain language of section 254. In section 254(b), Congress specified that
“[t]he Joint Board and the Commission shall base policies for the preservation and advancement of
universal service on [certain] principles.” 47 U.S.C. § 254(b)(emphasis added). Two of those principles are
particularly instructive: First, under section 254(b)(2), Congress sets forth the principle that “[a]ccess to
advanced telecommunications and information services should be provided in all regions of the Nation.” 47
U.S.C. § 254(b)(2). Second, with section 254(b)(3), Congress established the principle that “[c]onsumers
in all regions of the Nation, including low-income consumers and those in rural, insular, and high cost
areas, should have access to telecommunications and information services . . .” 47 U.S.C. § 254(b)(3)
Also, section 254(b)(7) instructs the Commission and Joint Board to adopt “other principles” that we
“determine are necessary and appropriate for the protection of the public interest, convenience, and
necessity and are consistent with” the Communications Act. In that regard, in 2010 the Federal-State
Board on Universal Service recommended to the Commission that we use our authority under section
254(b)(7) to adopt a principle to “specifically find that universal service support should be directed where
possible to networks that provide advanced services.”
Some contend that the definition of universal service under section 254(c)(1) muddies the water because it
does not include “information service.” Instead, that provision states that “[u]niversal service is an
evolving level of telecommunications services . . . taking into account advances in telecommunications and
Commissioners Copps (since retired) and Clyburn should be commended for this historic
In addition to reforming the high cost program, the Commission also reformed the
USF low income program (Lifeline/Linkup) in January by restraining its spending and
adopting some necessary measures to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in that program.17
These two reform efforts were just first steps, however, because the Commission
only addressed the distribution, or spending, side of the USF equation. Equally important
is the need to fix the contribution methodology, or the “taxing” side of the ledger. In
other words, how we are going to pay for all of this?
To put this issue in perspective, the USF contribution factor, a type of tax paid by
telephone consumers, has risen each year from approximately 5.5 percent in 1998 to
almost 18 percent in the first quarter of this year.18 This trend is unacceptable because it
is unsustainable. Furthermore, the cryptic language on consumers’ phone bills, combined
with the skyrocketing “tax” rate, has produced a new form of “bill shock.” We must
tame this wild automatic tax increase as soon as possible.
In a perfect world, the Commission would have conducted comprehensive reform
by addressing both the spending and taxing sides at the same time. Instead, our effort
was broken into pieces. Nevertheless, I was pleased that the Chairman recently launched
a further notice of proposed rulemaking on contribution reform which was approved by
the Commission at our last open meeting.
I look forward to working with my colleagues and all stakeholders to craft a
pragmatic and fair solution to lower the tax rate while broadening the base in a manner
that is within the authority granted to us by Congress. It is my hope that we will do so no
later than this fall.
information technologies and services.” But, it is also relevant that the term “telecommunications service”
is qualified by the adjective “evolving.” Even if section 254 were viewed as ambiguous, pursuant to the
well established principle of Chevron deference, the courts would likely uphold the FCC’s interpretation as
a reasonable and permissible one. See Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 467 U.S.
As part of this USF order approved last fall, the Commission agreed with the Joint Board recommendation
and adopted “support for advanced services” as an additional principle. Moreover, even if any of the
statutory language in section 254 appears to be ambiguous, the Commission’s reasonable interpretation
would receive deference from the courts under Chevron.
17 Funding for the Lifeline/Linkup program has steadily increased over the years. In, 1998, the total
support for the program was $464 million, and in 2010, the total support was over $1.3 billion. See
UNIVERSAL SERVICE MONITORING REPORT, CC Docket No. 98-202, Table 2.2 (2011), available at
18 See Proposed First Quarter 2012 Universal Service Contribution Factor, CC Docket No. 96-45, Public
Notice, 26 FCC Rcd 16814 (OMD 2011).
Finally, given the breadth and magnitude of the various USF reforms we have
accomplished so far, many of the effects - both positive and negative - may not be
apparent in the near term. That said, USF reform is an iterative process and we will
constantly monitor its implementation, listen to concerns, and quickly make adjustments,
OUR MEDIA OWNERSHIP PROCEEDING GIVES US AN OPPORTUNITY TO MODERNIZE
In the upcoming months, the Commission is likely to vote on the quadrennial
media ownership review. In December, I concurred to the majority of the December
2011 notice of proposed rulemaking, because the Commission appears to be prepared to
accept a regulatory status quo. I remain hopeful that the Commission will modernize its
rules to reflect the economic realities of the marketplace. Maintaining decades-old
industrial policy in this age of competition, mobility and new media is not in the public
interest. Moreover, we have a statutory obligation to eliminate unnecessary mandates
and bring all of our media ownership rules into line with today’s competitive
The factual record from the FCC’s 2006-2007 review, coupled with the weight of
the evidence that has poured in thus far during our current review, would likely support a
conclusion that the 1975 vintage newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban should be
largely eliminated. Although the Commission has offered up a relaxation of the ban on
newspaper-television ownership for the largest markets and considers eliminating
restrictions on newspaper-radio combinations, these proposals are anemic and do not
reflect marketplace realities. Particularly, in the past decade, broadcast stations and daily
newspapers have grappled with falling audience and circulation numbers, diminishing
advertising revenues, and resulting staff reductions, as online sources gain in popularity.
Although some sectors of the news industry have experienced a slight resurgence,20
19 Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56, 111-12 § 202(h) (1996);
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004, Pub. L. No. 108-199, § 629, 118 Stat. 3, 99-100 (2004) (amending
Section 202(h) of the 1996 Act). Section 202(h) states:
The Commission shall review its rules adopted pursuant to this section
and all of its ownership rules quadrennially . . . and shall determine
whether any of such rules are necessary in the public interest as the
result of competition. The Commission shall repeal or modify any
regulation it determines to be no longer in the public interest.
Telecommunications Act of 1996 § 202(h).
20 In 2011, network and local news viewership increased for the first time years; however, local TV station
advertising revenues still experienced a decline. See PEW RESEARCH CTR’S PROJECT FOR EXCELLENCE IN
JOURNALISM, THE STATE OF THE NEWS MEDIA 2012, KEY FINDINGS,
http://stateofthemedia.org/2012/overview-4/key-findings/ (last visited Mat 14, 2012) (“THE STATE OF THE
NEWS MEDIA 2012”) (stating that news viewership increased for local stations and networks for the first
time in five and ten years, respectively); THE STATE OF THE NEWS MEDIA 2012, LOCAL TV,
http://stateofthemedia.org/2012/overview-4/key-findings/ (explaining that some of this loss is due to a
reduction of political and automotive advertising from 2010 and that these revenues will rebound during a
busy election cycle).
newspapers continue to face decline with both advertising and circulation revenues
continuing on a downward path.21
Since 2007, a number of the nation’s most prominent daily newspapers have gone
into bankruptcy and many papers have moved to online-only formats. Furthermore, over
the past five years, an average of 15 daily papers, or about 1 percent of the industry, have
shuttered their doors each year.22 This is probably a response, in part, to the challenging
economic climate, but also may be a consequence of the emergence of competition from
new media platforms such as the Web and the FCC’s failure to modernize our rules
Regardless of any rule changes, however, traditional media owners are choosing
to invest in new, unregulated digital outlets rather than acquire more heavily-regulated
traditional media assets. Although newspaper circulation numbers continue to decline,
the number of unique visitors to newspaper websites has been increasing.23 In fact, the
White House’s Council of Economic Advisors has found that newspapers are one of
America’s fastest-shrinking industries24 losing approximately 28.4 percent of its
workforce between 2007 and 2011. Online publishing job growth, on the other hand,
increased by more that 20 percent in the same time period.25 Currently, 172 newspapers
have launched online subscription plans or placed content behind a paywall.26 This
represents a 15 percent increase since January alone and more papers are expected to
follow suit in the coming months.27 In the last year, we have also witnessed a trend of
traditional news media partnering with online distributors. For instance, Reuters is
21 THE STATE OF THE NEWS MEDIA 2012, OVERVIEW, http://stateofthemedia.org/2012/overview-4/; THE
STATE OF THE NEWS MEDIA 2012, KEY FINDINGS, http://stateofthemedia.org/2012/overview-4/key-
22 THE STATE OF THE NEWS MEDIA 2012, MAJOR TRENDS, http://stateofthemedia.org/2012/overview-
23 Newspaper Web Audience, NEWSPAPER ASSOC. OF AM. (Apr. 25, 2012),http://www.naa.org/Trends-and-Numbers/Newspaper-Websites/Newspaper-Web-Audience.aspx"> http://www.naa.org/Trends-and-
24 ECONOMIC REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT TOGETHER WITH THE ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COUNCIL OF
ECONOMIC ADVISORS 188 (February 2012) (citing a LinkedIn study), available at
25 Derek Thompson, Newspapers are America’s Fastest-Shrinking Industry, THE ATLANTIC (Mar. 11, 2012,
industry/254307/); Matt Rosoff, Newspapers Are The Fastest Shrinking Industry In The U.S., BUSINESS
INSIDER (Mar. 8, 2012), http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-03-08/tech/31135175_1_linkedin-job-
growth-newspapers#ixzz1us0z9Urf; Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, Bleak Outlook for US Papers, FINANCIAL
TIMES (Mar. 16, 2012), http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/3eef0bc4-6f73-11e1-9c57-
26 Papers with Digital Subscriber Plans/Paywalls, NEWS & TECH (May 10, 2012),
http://www.newsandtech.com/stats/article_22ac1efa-2466-11e1-9c29-0019bb2963f4.html">http://www.newsandtech.com/stats/article_22ac1efa-2466-11e1-9c29-0019bb2963f4.html (last visited May
27 Compare id., with THE STATE OF THE NEWS MEDIA 2012, NEWSPAPERS,
http://stateofthemedia.org/2012/newspapers-building-digital-revenues-proves-painfully-slow/ (stating that
roughly 150 newspapers have instituted a “metered model”).
producing original news shows for YouTube; Facebook has entered into partnerships
with The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian; and Yahoo!
paired with ABC News to be its sole provider of news video.28
In today’s robust and dynamic online and mobile marketplace, government should
not limit the options of broadcasters and the newspaper community to attract investment,
increase efficiencies, and share the costs of news production. Even in today’s
competitive online environment, the medium of newspaper has an important role to play.
Although business models are evolving, government policies should not distort market
Ironically, based on the evidence in the record thus far, the newspaper-broadcast
cross-ownership rule is likely undermining its own ostensible goal of promoting a
diversity of voices in the media marketplace. The rule may indeed be exacerbating the
diminution of journalism. Further, the record thus far demonstrates that in-market
combinations do not negatively affect viewpoint diversity29 and actually increase the
quantity and quality of local news and information provided by commonly-owned outlets
to benefit the American consumer.30 For these reasons, and many others, with the weight
of the evidence before us it appears that the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule
could be counter-productive, not in the public interest and should be largely eliminated.
OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND FOR FURTHER FCC REFORM.
Congress has recently shown interest in identifying opportunities for the
streamlining and improving Commission procedures and to ensure that unnecessary,
outdated or harmful rules are repealed.31 I agree. Although some FCC reforms require
28 THE STATE OF THE NEWS MEDIA 2012, OVERVIEW, http://stateofthemedia.org/2012/overview-4/.
29 See, e.g., Newspaper Association of America, Comments, MB Docket No. 09-182, at 18-20 (Mar. 5,
2012) (“NAA Comments”); Adam D. Renhoff and Kenneth C. Wilbur, Local Media Ownership and
Viewpoint Diversity in Local Television News, at 3, 15 (June 12, 2011), available at
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-308596A1.pdf (“[T]hese findings show that under
the proposed definition of viewpoint diversity, variation in television station co-ownership and cross-
ownership is generally found to [have] negligible effects on viewpoint diversity. However, it is important to
note that the data are limited to the degree of media co-ownership and cross-ownership currently allowed
under FCC rules.”).
30 See, e.g., 2010 Quadrennial Regulatory Review – Review of the Commission’s Broadcast Ownership Rules
and Other Rules Adopted Pursuant to Section 202 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, MB Docket No.
09-182, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 17489, 17519 ¶ 85, n.185 (2011); NAA Comments at
15-18; Diversity and Competition Supporters, Initial Comments, MB Docket No. 09-182, at 40-43 (Mar. 5,
2012); Adam D. Renhoff and Kenneth C. Wilbur, Local Media Ownership and Media Quality, at 3, 15
(June 12, 2011), available at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-308504A1.pdf; Jack
Erb, Local Information Programming and the Structure of Television Markets, at 4, 27-28, 40-41 (May 20,
2011), available at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-308508A1.pdf.
31 Fifty years ago, there were only 463 pages in the FCC’s portion of the Code of Federal Regulations
(“CFR”). During this period, Americans only had a choice of three TV networks and one phone company.
Today, over-the-air TV, cable TV, satellite TV and radio, and the millions of content suppliers on the
Internet, offer consumers with an abundance of choices. In other words, the American communications
economy was far less competitive in 1961 than it is today, yet it operated under fewer rules.
Congressional action, others may be achieved internally. For instance, the Chairman has
enacted some of my suggestions, including ensuring that notices of proposed rulemaking
contain actual proposed rules. I applaud his efforts in this area. In 2009, I outlined
additional suggestions regarding reform of the FCC to Acting-Chairman Michael Copps
and subsequently to Chairman Genachowski. For your convenience, I have attached
copies of these letters. (See Exhibit A).
WE SHOULD REMAIN UNIFIED IN OUR OPPOSITION TO UN/ITU REGULATION OF THE
Finally, all of us should be concerned with a well-organized international effort to
secure intergovernmental control of Internet governance. Since being privatized in the
early 1990’s, the Internet has historically flourished within a deregulatory regime not
only within our country but internationally as well. In fact, the long-standing
international consensus has been to keep governments from regulating core functions of
the Internet’s ecosystem.
Unfortunately, some nations, such as China, Russia, India, Iran and Saudi Arabia,
have been pushing to reverse this consensus by giving the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU) regulatory jurisdiction over Internet governance. The
ITU is a treaty-based organization under the auspices of the United Nations.32 As
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said last June, the goal of this effort is to establish
“international control over the Internet using the monitoring and supervisory capabilities
of the [ITU].”33
In 1988, delegates from 114 countries gathered in Australia to agree to a treaty that
set the stage for dramatic liberalization of international telecommunications.34 As a
In contrast, by late 1995, the FCC’s portion of the CFR had grown to 2,933 pages – up from 463 pages 34
years earlier. As of the most recent printing of the CFR last October, it contained a mind-numbing 3,746
pages of rules. Even after Congress codified deregulatory mandates with the landmark
Telecommunications Act of 1996, the FCC still managed to add hundreds more pages of rules. In fact, the
FCC has added 86 pages of rules since 2008.
To put it another way, the FCC’s rules, measured in pages, have grown by almost 710 percent over the
course of 50 years, all while the communications marketplace has enjoyed more competition. During this
same period of regulatory growth, America’s GDP grew by a substantially smaller number: 360 percent.
In short, this is one metric illustrating government growth outpacing economic growth.
To be fair, some of those rules were written due to various congressional mandates. And sometimes the
FCC does remove regulations on its own accord, or forbear from applying various mandates in response to
forbearance petitions. But all in all, the FCC’s regulatory reach has grown despite congressional attempts
to reverse that trend.
32 History, ITU, http://www.itu.int/en/about/Pages/history.aspx">http://www.itu.int/en/about/Pages/history.aspx (last visited May 14, 2012).
33 Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Working Day, GOV’T OF THE RUSSIAN FED’N,
http://premier.gov.ru/eng/events/news/15601/ (June 15, 2011) (last visited May 14, 2012).
34 See International Telecommunication Union, Final Acts of the World Administrative Telegraphy and
Telephone Conference, Melbourne, 1988: International Telecommunication Regulations (Geneva 1989),
available at http://www.itu.int/osg/csd/wtpf/wtpf2009/documents/ITU_ITRs_88.pdf (last visited May 14,
result, the Internet was insulated from government control and quickly became the
greatest deregulatory success story of all time.
Today, however, several countries within the 193 member states of the ITU35 want
to renegotiate the 1988 treaty to expand its reach into previously unregulated areas. A
few specifics are as follows:
Subject cyber security and data privacy to international control;
Allow foreign phone companies to charge fees for "international" Internet
traffic, perhaps even on a "per-click" basis for certain Web destinations,
with the goal of generating revenue for state-owned phone companies and
Impose unprecedented economic regulations such as mandates for rates,
terms and conditions for currently unregulated traffic-swapping
agreements known as "peering;"
Establish for the first time ITU dominion over important functions of
multi-stakeholder Internet governance entities such as the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit entity that
coordinates the .com and .org Web addresses of the world;
Subsume under intergovernmental control many functions of the Internet
Engineering Task Force, the Internet Society and other multi-stakeholder
groups that establish the engineering and technical standards that allow the
Internet to work; and
Regulate international mobile roaming rates and practices.
These efforts could ultimately partition the Internet between countries that on the
one hand opt out of today’s highly successful, non-governmental, multi-stakeholder
model to live under an intergovernmental regulatory regime, and on the other hand, those
member states that decide to keep the current system. Such a legal structure would be
devastating to global free trade, rising living standards and the spread of political
freedom. It would also create an engineering morass.
These latest attempts to regulate Internet governance have rallied opposition on a
bipartisan basis. Chairman Genachowski has also been working to raise awareness on
this important issue as have key members of the Obama Administration.
For your convenience, I have attached a copy of a recent Wall Street Journal op-
ed that I wrote which provides more detail on the issue. (See Exhibit B).
In sum, it has been an honor to serve as a commissioner at the FCC. During my
service, my focus has been to support policies that promote consumer choice offered
through abundance and competition rather than regulation and its unintended
35 Overview, IThttp://www.itu.int/en/about/Pages/overview.aspx">U, http://www.itu.int/en/about/Pages/overview.aspx (last visited May 14, 2012).
consequences, whenever possible. In the absence of market failure, unnecessary
regulation in the name of serving the public interest can have the perverse effect of
harming consumers by inhibiting the constructive risk-taking that produces investment,
innovation, competition, lower prices and jobs. I will continue to examine the FCC’s
public policy challenges through this lens, and I look forward to continue working with
all of you to ensure that America maintains its foothold as the leader in the
Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today. I look forward
to your questions.
Robert M. McDowell, The UN Threat to Internet Freedom, WALL ST. J., Feb. 21, 2012, at A19, available
Letter from FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell to FCC Acting
Chairman Michael Copps (January 27, 2009).
Letter from FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell to FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski (July 20, 2009).
- WSJ Op Ed.pdf