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
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
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
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
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
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
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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