Text Version

May 29, 1997
(As Prepared for Delivery)

Thank you very much for inviting me to speak here today.

At the time I accepted the opportunity to speak to you, I did not know that I would have created news of my own. Tuesday, I sent a letter to President Clinton asking him to begin the process of selecting my successor as chair of the FCC. I told him that I intend to remain in my post until he has completed that process. I told him it was a high honor to serve as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, but that it is high time for me to spend more time with my family. My children are growing up fast, and I cannot afford to miss any more of their childhood.

It has been the thrill of my professional life to spend the last three and half years at the center of the communications revolution fighting for the lofty goals of the American Dream: opportunity and prosperity for all.

In the past three and a half years, communications has delivered huge benefits for families and for the economy. We have been able to pursue the twin goals of vigorous economic growth and ensuring the benefits of this new competition are spread throughout our society. We have delivered huge benefits to businesses such as yours. The competition for communications services are already providing lower prices and more advanced services to meet your demands in a variety of ways.

In addition to making sure that firms have appropriate incentives to compete for your business, we have guaranteed that every family in America will have education over the air and down the pipe at home and in every classroom. People of low income, people who do not have English as a first language, people with disabilities, people with medical problems, people in urban and people in remote rural areas all will have access to the information highway, the information economy, the information age.

The FCC has done more for K-12 education than the federal government has ever done before, with the sole exception of the school lunch program. This will help to ensure an ample supply of qualified workers for your businesses long into the future.

The FCC has done more to provide resources to libraries and to health care clinics than the federal government has ever done before.

The information sector represents one-seventh of the U.S. economy. It is the single fastest growing sector with a growth rate twice that of the overall economy. Job growth in the communications sector is 65% higher than in the overall economy. Investment in this sector is up 11% per year. The astonishing success of PCS demonstrates the wisdom of our spectrum policies. Wireless investment has increased more than 250% since 1993 and over the next ten years will total more than $50 billion. It is the largest single investment in a new, non-military technology in American history.

Since President Clinton was elected in 1992, 12 million new jobs have been created. Eight million of those jobs are in the information sector. The economic success of our country is directly attributable in substantial part to the policies that we have put in place.

We have completely rewritten the rules for all five lanes of the information highway: telephony, wireless, satellite, cable and broadcasting.

We produced policies and rules that work not only for Wall Street, but for Main Street.

We adopted an overarching philosophy appropriate for the Age of Communications Competition. Our philosophy is neither conservative nor liberal. It is a third way for communications policy that will serve the country well in the 21st century.

Our digital era philosophy relies on markets to allocate goods efficiently and to produce innovation, consumer choice, lower prices and better services; but where the market does not generate goods the public rightly insists on, we respond with clear and enforceable rules directly tailored to the public interest and necessity.

This is a trust-but-verify philosophy. Government should trust markets, but verify that they are truly serving the interests of communities, citizens, children. Where they are not, government should intervene with laser-like precision to promote public needs. This targeted approach can serve the public interest by minimally affecting business interests while providing the services that the public needs.

It is a philosophy that embraces both market values and family values.

It is a philosophy that will produce the greatest levels of investment, job creation and economic growth, while ensuring that no one is left behind and that important social needs are not compromised or ignored.

It is a philosophy that reverses most of the previous approach. It is a philosophy that rejects micromanagement of communications markets or a laissez faire approach to the public interest.

Whatever virtue the old approach may have had when the FCC existed primarily to monitor monopolies, we were right to discard it as the Commission's fundamental mission changed to causing competition.

That mission of creating competition throughout all aspects of the communications marketplace is one that we began pursuing in 1993 and 1994, and that became the law of the land in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Act's fundamental goal is to establish a "procompetitive, deregulatory" national communications policy. That is a mantra we had been chanting for many months and years before the Act was passed and that we were ready and eager to pursue immediately upon enactment. It is one of the reasons we have been able to defy the oddsmakers and beat each of the impossibly aggressive deadlines in the Act.

How have we implemented our private competition/public benefits philosophy?

Never has the Commission done more to foster market-based, procompetitive and deregulatory policies.

Promoting Competition

Public Benefits

There is, of course, much work still to be done at the Commission. For example:

It must ensure that our local telephone and wireless competition rules are not thwarted by courts, counties or incumbents. It must work with states and local governments to prevent barriers to entry from arising in the first place, and to remove them when necessary.

It must complete the many rulemakings that will assure universal service, innovation and true deregulation in telephone markets.

It must ensure that competition in the long-distance market is enhanced and not diminished by the entry of the Bell companies.

It must work to increase wired and wireless bandwidth available for the internet and other new services.

It must ensure that spectrum is used as efficiently as possible, that neither government nor private users are warehousing this precious public resource, and that all available spectrum is assigned quickly by auction.

And it must implement the World Trade Organization agreement on telecommunications in a way faithful to the vision of the negotiators, as originally expressed in the Vice President's groundbreaking 1993 speech in Buenos Aires.

The Commission must ensure that digital television is launched rapidly and with rules that guarantee that digital television programming will serve the public interest.

It must address the threat of liquor ads, the decline of public service announcements, and the great potential of free TV time for candidates to help solve the problem of campaign financing.

It must address the V-chip and ratings issues in a way that will truly give parents the power to choose what their kids watch in the analog TV present and the digital TV future.

It must implement the children's educational TV rules in a way that will give parents something to chose for their kids.

It must ensure that the money we have identified for wiring classrooms and libraries is used wisely and effectively, with a way found to allow for needed equipment purchases and teacher training.

Many of these challenges will be presented to the Commission in votes that we will hold in June, July and August.

While I have asked the President to find my successor, it is clear that the agenda of the FCC is overflowing and much remains to be done. During the remainder of my time here I am committed to the goals set forth in all of the decisions by this commission -- promoting competition and promoting the public interest. My current colleagues and I are all aware that some, including some on Wall Street, are concerned that a new Commission will undue many of the strides we have taken. However, not only will we continue in the same direction until a new chairman is chosen, but I am also confident that the President will choose a new chairman who is also committed to those same goals. The benefits of competition and public interest rulemakings are significant to the economy and to the american public in general. You as the biggest beneficiaries of all of these policies need to ensure that the benefits of the new approach to competition policy are not lost by those who wish to turn the clock back to the days of monopoly.

Thank you.