[ text version ]

(as prepared for delivery)

November 7, 1997

Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Thank you for being here today to preside over this ceremony. It is truly a great honor for me and my family that you are here.

I am also grateful that you and President Clinton and the Senate have entrusted me with this challenge of such great importance to you and the country. I enthusiastically accept this challenge. And I do so knowing that I stand here today on the shoulders of many, many people who have brought me to this place -- many of whom are in this room.

First and foremost, my family. Many members of my family have travelled long distances to be here today for this occasion. They are here supporting me today. But it is their support, and guidance, and wisdom, and hard work over many, many years that make this day possible. My mother, Helen Kennard, is here. My wonderful wife, Deborah. My two sisters, Gail Madyun and Lydia Kennard Reeves. And, although he is not here, my late father's presence is very much in this room, too. I am here today because of them.

Many other members of my family are here too. Aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. Each of them in his or her own special way has shaped the course of my life. Thank you for being here.

As I look around this room, I see many other people who have made this day possible. Many, many wonderful friends and mentors. And I want to thank you all. But I also want to thank the many people who are not here today but who made it possible for me to be here -- people who have struggled to make it possible for me to become the first African American Chairman of the FCC. I stand on their shoulders as well. They, too, share in this achievement.

The Vice President has called upon me and my new colleagues at the Commission to help guide our country's communications policies into the next century. I am very excited to accept this challenge.

Mr. Vice President, since you coined the term "Information Highway" some 20 years ago, that term has become a household phrase in our country. It embodies the promise that all Americans can have access to technology that dramatically improves their lives. I and the country are grateful to you for your vision -- for being a pioneer in recognizing the power of communications to improve the lives of Americans -- particularly America's children.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 provides an important new framework for realizing these goals. It calls for a shift from monopoly regulation to competition -- all the while striving through universal service and other public interest principles to ensure that no area of the country and no child will be left behind.

As I work with my new colleagues to implement these goals, I will be guided by three fundamental principles: competition, community and common sense.

The first principle is competition -- competition in the service of consumers. Competition must be the cornerstone of communications policies here and around the world. And I pledge to continue to promote competition in every sector of the communications marketplace.

The second principal that will guide me is community. I believe that the American people want competition and choice, but they want more. They want communications technologies to help build communities -- all communities. Whether you live in a metropolitan area, a rural community, or a distressed inner city, communications technology should give you the same benefits and the same opportunities. I will work hard to ensure that the communications revolution includes everyone -- that no one is left on the sidelines of this revolution.

The third principle is common sense. The FCC should always act with common sense. Our rules should find practical solutions to difficult problems. They should be clear and be in touch with real people's needs and problems.

I am excited about the challenges ahead. The FCC under the brilliant and courageous leadership of Reed Hundt laid a solid foundation for the future. I congratulate Gloria Tristani and look forward to working with her and my other colleagues at the FCC. And I am confident that working together, we will do the right thing for our country. Thank you all for coming.