SPEECH TO THE AMERICAN WOMEN IN RADIO AND TELEVISION ("AWRT")
POWER BREAKFAST WASHINGTON, D.C.
JUNE 10, 1997
WOMEN, COMMUNICATIONS AND THE PUBLIC INTEREST
Good morning. Thanks for inviting me to be here today. Special thanks to American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT)
Washington D.C. Chapter President Ellen Schned, a former FCC attorney, Power Breakfast
Chairperson Marlene Colucci, and to AWRT's Executive Director, Terri Dickerson. AWRT
has been a thoughtful participant in FCC rulemakings about auctions, elimination of market
entry barriers for small, women and minority-owned business, equal employment opportunity
and many other topics.
The past three and a half years have witnessed explosive growth in the
communications industry. Growth in the communications sector is 65% higher than in the
overall economy. Investment in this sector has increased by 11% over 1996. 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
I am proud to say that women have been in the vanguard of that growth. Even as judicial decisions made it dramatically harder to pursue directly the statutory goal of encouraging ownership of spectrum licenses by women and minorities, we had extraordinary successes. Women won 495 licenses at the FCC auctions, and minorities won 465 licenses. Small businesses won over 2,300 licenses through FCC auctions. Altogether, this is an FCC record.
AWRT member Shelly Spencer is one of the owners of these new licenses.
Shelly is a lawyer turned entrepreneur, and a consistent advocate for women's full
participation and involvement. We wish Shelly and all of the new wireless companies the
On Monday we had a forum and demonstration at the FCC on opportunities in
unlicensed spectrum. As the name indicates, no FCC license is required to operate in certain
parts of the spectrum, only compliance with certain interference standards and the most basic
of FCC approvals. Entrepreneurs are developing wireless internet systems connected by base
stations on street lights, wireless phone systems nurses can use to keep in touch as they visit
patients throughout the hospital, and many other applications. We applaud their efforts and
the many innovations to come.
As we introduce competition in more sectors, not only will there be
opportunities for licensees and "unlicensees," but also for those who work with them. Many
AWRT members are lawyers, consultants and advertising representatives who will be in
increasing demand as new communications industries develop. Opportunities will also
increase for engineers, people who can integrate technologies, and people who create tools to
navigate through the increasing amount of information generated by our society. The FCC's
proposed rules to promote closed captioning will create a demand for talented stenographers
who can almost instantaneously translate speech into the written word. When I was a lawyer
in private practice, I met many court reporters whose skills, speed and accuracy in taking
down conversations amazed me. Soon, they will have a new market. Companies need people
to work with local governments to secure sites for towers for new wireless services.
Companies even need people to represent them before the FCC in rulemakings.
Cathy Sandoval, Director of the FCC's Office of Communications Business
Opportunities is charged with increasing opportunities for small, women and minority-owned
businesses in the communications industry. My senior legal advisor, Jackie Chorney, was one
of the key architects of the Commission's spectrum policy. Gretchen Rubin advises me on
broadcasting matters. I encourage you to get to know Cathy, Jackie and Gretchen, and the
many other dedicated public servants at the FCC.
The entire FCC staff has worked at an incredible pace during the past three and a half years. We have held the largest auctions in the world, implemented the Telecommunications Act of 1996, licensed new technologies, and more. And there is still more work to be done. I receive e-mails sent by FCC staffers at 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. They have worked well into the night, during long busy days and on weekends to complete the rulemakings that will create competition and opportunity. Whenever I step away from my office for a couple of hours to give a speech, I return to find 75 or more e-mails in my computer. I'm very proud of everyone at the FCC and at what we have accomplished for the American people.
When I first came to the FCC in 1993, a reporter told me that there were only
75 people who mattered in Washington. He told me that I was never going to get anywhere if
I didn't please them. He didn't tell me exactly who those 75 people were, except that they
included some of the high-paid lobbyists who regularly visited the FCC on behalf of the
biggest communications companies. Most of those lobbyists are men. But that's not the only
reason the reporter was wrong.
The FCC's decisions affect millions of people. Our decisions promote
competition and lower rates for mobile wireless services, provide resources to connect
classrooms so that millions of American children will be able to access the information
highway, spur new educational programming for children on television, and make the
telephone network more accessible to millions of Americans. All Americans matter when
deciding these issues. That's why we've made the communications debate so public. The
FCC web page has received over 58 million hits on the internet. The public cares deeply
about these issues and we have worked to ensure that they are part of the debate.
When I spoke to the AWRT convention in Minneapolis three years ago, I
commented on the absence of women on the boards of directors of communications trade
associations. The U.S. Telephone Association added one woman to their board during my
tenure; there are now 3 women directors on the 46-member USTA board instead of two. The
Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association still has no women on their Board of
Directors. The National Association of Broadcasters remained constant at 5 women out of 63
board members. The Wireless Cable Association has no women on their Board of Directors.
I know many AWRT members and other women who would serve these
boards well. I again wish to express my concerns about the lack of progress in these
associations, and I hope AWRT does the same.
The paucity of Board representation runs counter to the national trend of
growth in women-owned businesses.
In 1996, there were nearly 8 million women-owned businesses in the U.S,
generating nearly $2.3 trillion in sales.
The number of firms owned by women grew 78% between 1987 and 1996,
nearly twice the rate of increase of all U.S. firms (47%).
Women-owned businesses employ one out of every four U.S. company
workers--a total of 18.5 million employees.
Communications/transportation, construction, wholesale trade, agribusiness,
and manufacturing were the top growth industries for women-owned businesses between 1987-96. During that nine-year period, the number of firms owned by women in
communications/transportation increased by 140%. With the explosive overall growth in the
communications industry, we expect to see that trend continue.
The National Foundation for Women Business Owners also found that women
entrepreneurs use communications and information systems to help their businesses succeed.
Half of women business owners plan to increase their investments in
information technology in the coming year. 13% expect to spend $15,000 or more on
computer systems this year; 60% will spend up to $5,000 on information technology.
One-third of women-owned businesses subscribe to an online service; and 65%
expect to become a regular user within five years.
Women businesses owners get their information primarily from each other
about technology purchases. NFWBO found that women are more likely than men to rely on
fellow business owners for information and advice. Women are less likely than men to seek
technology information from computer-related publications, general interest magazines,
business association meetings, and the Internet.
Women must be leaders not only in using technology, but in making sure that
our public airwaves are used in the public interest.
As a parent and Chairman of the FCC, I'm convinced that families, children
and communities are at the heart of the communications revolution. That revolution promises
the American Dream of opportunity and prosperity for all. The FCC has pursued these lofty
goals by bringing competition to every sector of the communications market, and working to
ensure that the public benefits from communications technologies.
Competitive markets produce innovation, consumer choice, lower prices and
better services. Deregulatory, pro-competitive policies have resulted in billions of dollars in
investment and the creation of millions of new jobs. However, we must make sure the
markets serve the interests of families, children and communities. When they do not,
government should intervene to promote public needs.
Last week the Reverend Jesse Jackson and I met to discuss how we could work
together to promote the public interest, diversity and opportunity in the communications
industry. We discussed our mutual concern about the mergermania sweeping the broadcasting
industry. As the FCC looks at proposals to consolidate more stations within the power of one
owner in a market, we must remember that the public interest standard still prevails. When
reviewing deals, we must ask whether they serve the public interest. That interest includes
promoting diversity of voices and viewpoints over the airwaves. I know you will join us in
examining whether consolidation serves those primary goals, and in developing guidelines to
ensure that stations are owned and operated in the public interest.
The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council estimates that since the
passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, minority ownership in broadcasting has
declined by 15%.
The Commission is gathering data on these trends through its study of barriers
to market entry for minorities and women. Last month, the FCC adopted a report on market
entry barriers for small businesses. The Commission recognized a need to gather additional
evidence on the unique barriers women and minorities face. We are about to begin that study
and will need your support. We need to hear about your experiences in breaking into the
business and fighting the glass ceiling so we can work together to shatter those barriers.
We also look for women to have a strong voice in the transition to digital television. With DTV, full-power broadcasters doubled their spectrum and won, for now, the exclusive opportunity to develop the DTV franchise.
Vice-President Al Gore will head a commission that will look into digital
television and broadcasters' obligations to the public interest. Through this process, AWRT
has an opportunity to ensure that DTV licensees operate in the public interest. This includes
increasing opportunities for women and minorities, improving programming for children, and
serving all of us better.
I am also concerned about proposals in Congress that would essentially renege
on the commitment to give back the spectrum loaned to broadcasters in exchange for their new
digital channels. Some Congressmen have proposed that the FCC should grant extensions of
the deadline for returning analog spectrum channels if "more than 5% of households in a
market continue to rely exclusively on over-the-air analog TV signals." This would result in
an indefinite extension of the license to existing broadcasters.
As stated in the Commission's order on digital television, the target date for
the transition from analog to digital television is 2006. If broadcasters promote DTV, the
great majority of Americans will have converted to digital by buying set top boxes, digital
cable, digital satellite, digital tv, or personal computers set up to receive DTV. As the
deadline approaches, broadcasters would have an incentive to distribute the equipment to keep
their audience share, and thus their advertising revenues. So, penetration levels increase.
But if 5% of the audience doesn't have the capacity to receive the new signal,
then broadcasters can keep both channels under proposed legislation. Where does this number
come from? Almost 5 percent of the country doesn't have active telephone service. This is
regarded as a small percentage that does not drive our telephone policies, though we continue
to make efforts to reduce the gap. More than 5% of the country probably thinks there is no
such thing as "Must See TV." Why should that growing block of silence lovers drive TV
The American public was promised that it would get the spectrum back for
new, flexible uses. The digital spectrum, worth millions of dollars in potential advertising and
other revenues, was given to existing broadcasters for free, as a loan in exchange for the
analog spectrum. When the analog licenses are returned, we can create new opportunities for
women, minorities, small businesses, new programmers and new would-be networks, to
acquire spectrum for any use. We must ensure that promise is kept to create fair opportunities
for all Americans.
As the Commission discussed in the DTV order, we are developing a proposal
to make spectrum available on Channels 60-69 for public safety use, and to businesses for
flexible use. Those uses could include broadcasting, wireless, and fixed service uses. We are
also considering ways to encourage women and minority participation in those new services.
Bob Johnson, the entrepreneur who developed the Black Entertainment Television cable
network, has spoken up about how important this spectrum is to the minority community, and
to creating new opportunities for programming which addresses that community's needs.
Women also need to speak up about the importance of this opportunity to
women. With ownership comes control. Bonnie Erbe's company now owns "To the
Contrary," a thoughtful talk-show where women commentators actually listen to each other as
they discuss important issues of the day. We could all learn something from watching that
show. We need to get the analog licenses back to have opportunities to sell the spectrum to
new entrants, including women and minorities.
Liquor advertisements are another issue looming large on television. President Clinton, 240 public interest organizations, thirteen states and Puerto Rico, and many others have asked the FCC to look seriously into the question of whether hard liquor ads on broadcast TV should be allowed, prohibited, or permitted on shows very late at night when comparatively few young children are in the audience.
The number of hard liquor ads during prime time is troubling, and the
potential for harmful impact on young people is real indeed. Last week the Wall Street
Journal reported that liquor companies and their advertising agencies are toasting my departure
by "laying the groundwork to expand the nation's current trickle of TV ads for spirits."
The average American teenager watches fifty hours of television each week.
That's more time than these teenagers spend in school.
The courts have consistently held that because of broadcasting's accessibility
and pervasiveness, the broadcast medium receives more limited first amendment protection
than other media. And, in Anheuser-Busch, Inc. v. Schmoke, the Fourth Circuit said a city
could ban billboard advertising of booze where kids are expected to walk to school or play.
The law clearly recognizes that liquor ads should not be treated like Pizza Hut or Nike ads.
Within two weeks we plan to issue a Notice of Inquiry to launch an open and
public debate about the effects of liquor ads on kids. We know that the liquor industry will
file comments in that proceeding. This is also a critical issue for women. We need to hear
your voices about this issue.
Some have suggested that the FCC has no business taking a look at liquor ads.
But one of the chief purposes of the FCC is to ensure that the public airwaves are used in the
public interest. How can we justify turning a blind eye to this new use of the public airwaves?
Just because the questions are tough doesn't mean that we should slough off our responsibility
onto other governmental entities. The President, dozens of Congressmen, numerous states,
and over 240 public interest groups have called on us, the FCC, to act. We can't just decide
that we don't want to take the trouble, or take the heat, and ignore this new use of the
Public Service Announcements are also a matter of serious concern at the
PSAs have entered our everyday language. We know that "A mind is a terrible
thing to waste" and that "Friends don't let friends drive drunk." AWRT produced wonderful
public service announcements on stopping sexual harassment in the workplace. I am
concerned, however, that the decreasing time allotted to PSA's would mean that AWRT
couldn't air those national PSA's today.
The statistics I've seen show that the amount of time broadcasters spend
promoting their own shows is rising, and the time broadcasters devote to PSA's is shrinking.
Statistics provided by the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association
of National Advertisers in their 1995 "Television Commercial Monitoring Report" indicate that
PSA's occupy a small fraction of available prime-time hours. For every minute of PSA's,
broadcasters run 146 minutes of commercials, and 58 minutes of self-promotional ads. In
other words, for every minute of time used for a non-commercial purpose (PSA's),
broadcasters use 204 minutes for commercial puroses (commercials and self-promotions).
Meanwhile, network self-promotion increased from 3:18 minutes per hour in May 1993 to
4:21 minutes per hour in November 1995. At the same time, the average time for networks
PSA's is startlingly low at 5 seconds per hour -- down from 12 seconds three years ago.
I'm focusing on prime-time because that's where the eyeballs are. Many
stations do a great job outside of prime time. But the best opportunity to reach people, and to
serve the public interest, is when most of us are watching.
Therefore, I hope that you will speak up about the importance of PSAs, and
ensure that broadcasting serves the public interest.
Finally, we have an unprecedented opportunity to bring communications into
the classroom to improve education and stir the imagination of children across the land. I am
very proud of how we have served the public interest in establishing, pursuant to the
Telecommunications Act of 1996, a $2.25 billion universal service fund to bring the
information revolution to schools and libraries.
When I was a teacher, my classroom had no maps. We didn't have enough
books either. Like most teachers at the time, my fingers were stained purple from making
mimeographs so the students would have materials to study. The universal service fund will
help put maps of the world at the fingertips of every child. It will put the Library of Congress
within arm's reach. Students can have tremendous resources within their grasp.
The information age in the classroom will prepare children for the information
revolution that women business owners are using to compete and succeed in today's
marketplace. It will help children become the entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers and artists
who will develop products and services that will create a new, previously unimaginable future.
Many of you have told me what this fund will mean for your children, and all
the children of America. I look forward to seeing young girls accessing AWRT's web page in
the classroom, learning about opportunities to be a broadcaster, executive, lawyer or business
leader in the communications industry. We look forward to hearing from you about how this
fund benefits women and children.
There is a world of opportunity in the communications industry. That industry is also creating more opportunity in every sector of our society: in the schools; in health clinics and libraries; for telecommuters who can spend more time with their children while working on challenging and rewarding jobs; for businesses; for our country and our world. I look forward to AWRT and its members defining those new opportunities.