Innovation, Regulation On CES Agenda Today
More Dispatches From Las Vegas By Perry Michael Simon
January 11, 2012 at 4:42 PM (PT)
WEDNESDAY's schedule at the 2012 International CES in LAS VEGAS kicked off with FORD President/CEO ALAN MULLALY, XEROX Chairman/CEO URSULA BURNS, and VERIZON EVP and President-VERIZON Enterprise JOHN STRATTON discussing corporate innovation with CONSUMER ELECTRONICS ASSOCIATION President/CEO GARY SHAPIRO.
The panel agreed on the need to spend on research and development, sometimes at odds with investors (although BURNS said she has "not yet had a debate" with investors on XEROX's spending on innovation, adding that the investors "want near-term returns ... but they are aware of the need" for R&D. MULLALY added that "most successful businesses are looking out at least five or 10 years" and STRATTON noted the challenge of dealing with new technological innovations cannibalizing earnings from existing technologies and compressing margins in the short-term. STRATTON warned, however, that "if you don't make those investments, someone else cannibalizes your revenue."
The panel also discussed encouraging employees to be innovative, dealing with failure, and maintaining quality, and BURNS raised the issue of the need for AMERICA to improve its educational system. "We want people to be engineers, scientists, and technologists," she said to applause from the audience. "It has to be cool," she added. "We need to celebrate what we want." STRATTON said that tax policy needs to encourage investment in innovation.
SOPA The Hot Issue On Congressional Panel
THE DAILY CALLER's TUCKER CARLSON hosted a panel with Reps. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA), MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN), JOHN SHIMKUS (R-IL), CLIFF STEARNS (R-FL), and LEE TERRY (R-NE) debating the merits of the various piracy bills before Congress, with ISSA taking the position that the SOPA bill is bad law and BLACKBURN defending it and calling for help from the public to refine the law. ISSA said that BLACKBURN is "flat wrong on the constitutionality of SOPA" and said of the bill, "you gotta throw it away -- it is an inherently unconstitutional bill" in its use of DNS blocking and the courts to shut down websites upon a complaint without due process nor the necessity of the complainer to prove it owns the copyright being infringed. He likened the bill to requiring the witness to a crime to "go down and beat the guy (committing the crime) up." ISSA noted that the primary piracy problem comes from overseas pirates, and said that the International Trade Commission is better suited to handle complaints swiftly and effectively than the court system, an assertion that drew opposition from BLACKBURN. Rep. SHIMKUS added his concerns that the costs involved in fighting complaints under SOPA may hinder the expansion of broadband in his rural district. Also raised during a question-and-answer session were the issues of privacy (with STEARNS promoting his bill to require sites to disclose what information they gather from users), content regulation (with TERRY defending the FCC's regulation of broadcast content on the basis of the airwaves being "public property"), and whether the piracy bills will be an issue in the elections (SHIMKUS said SOPA had already gotten mentioned on the Congressional election level but doubted that it would be an issue in the Presidential elections).
Genachowski Talks Broadband, Spectrum Auctions
FCC Chairman JULIUS GENACHOWSKI's opening remarks took up more than half the alloted time for his annual chat with SHAPIRO, and in his speech he outlined his four goals for the Commission, including ubiquitous broadband, "unleashing" spectrum for mobile broadband, the establishment of broadband innovation zones, and universal broadband adoption. As he did last year, GENACHOWSKI tried to rally support for incentive auctions of television spectrum, insisting that "we need to get it done now, and we need to get it done right," to get the spectrum for "mobile innovation." He added during his talk with SHAPIRO that, as an example, NEW YORK has 28 television licenses, asking, "does NEW YORK need 28 licenses?" and answering that the market should decide the issue through auctions. He also voiced his support for unlicensed spectrum to encourage innovation and touted the Internet as a job creator, creating more jobs than it eliminates.
Wyden, Issa Rip Piracy Bills
A brief session on the piracy bills featured the chief opponents of the laws, ISSA (who arrived late, dashing onto the podium in mid-session) and Sen. RON WYDEN (D-OR) (who had to leave early to catch a flight). WYDEN likened the situation to the Communications Decency Act 15 years ago, asking "are we going to do something smart (by rejecting the bill) or do something foolish?" "We're up against a huge fight," WYDEN said, adding that "we're fighting above our weight" in battling the SOPA and Protect-IP Acts and that he will be using procedural means to hold up the Senate bill. "If you help us get the word out," WYDEN said to applause, "we are going to win this fight."
WYDEN said advocates for the bills ask how anyone could be against legislation fighting "foreign, rogue websites," but, he noted, the enforcement process is "all involving Americans." WYDEN and ISSA's OPEN Act, he said, aims to fight piracy without "damaging the Internet" by DNS-blocking. "This is ultimately a question of international commerce," WYDEN said, explaining that his bill would refer cases to the International Trade Commission. He asserted that SOPA and PIP-A supporters would support his bill if SOPA and PIP-A hadn't been introduced first.
ISSA said that his and WYDEN's act will be introduced on JANUARY 17th, and repeated his support for using the ITC in piracy cases, as he discussed at the earlier panel. He also said that he believes some of the most onerous aspexts of SOPA are likely to be removed before the bill comes to a vote. Meanwhile, WYDEN raised the issue of security, saying that the domain name system is the backbone of Internet security and suggesting that the present bills compromise that security.
Clyburn, McDowell Discuss FCC's Agenda
FCC Commissioners MIGNON CLYBURN and ROBERT MCDOWELL appeared at CES to discuss the agency's agenda for 2012 with the WASHINGTON POST's CECILIA KANG. Spectrum issues were raised right away, with MCDOWELL noting that the amount of money and bipartisan support for auctions would seem to make incentive auction legislation likely; he said it could be tied to the next payroll tax extension bill. MCDOWELL said that offering unlicensed spectrum could provide an "escape valve" and a "workaround" against charges that the auctions are anti-competitive. CLYBURN hesitated when KANG asked her whether the wireless business is competitive, then responded that she has "concerns" that there are "too few providers" in some parts of the country; MCDOWELL jumped in to say that most consumers have about five choices (four national categories and one regional), and some rural, sparsely-populated areas don't, but prices of service have fallen. On the piracy bills before Congress and the Senate, MCDOWELL said he won't comment directly on the bills ("I don't tell Congress what to do") and supports the protection of copyright protection but said that the legislation will see "major reforms" before becoming law; he said the FCC shouldn't get involved in regulating copyright protection. On the reduction of the FCC to three commissioners pending confirmation of two new appointees, MCDOWELL noted that the Commission has been in the same position before and was able to do well in implementing the digital TV transition, with CLYBURN adding that the Commission continues to function with full staffing despite having fewer sitting Commissioners.
Hear ALL ACCESS' PERRY MICHAEL SIMON discuss the 2012 CES on KFI-A/LOS ANGELES THURSDAY night at 9:30p (PT) with TIM CONWAY JR. SIMON previewed CES on KDWN-A/LAS VEGAS with HEIDI HARRIS on TUESDAY morning and will be offering his opinions in his weekly column "The Letter" on FRIDAY (1/13).