FCC Commissioners Talk To MMTC Conference
July 20, 2010 at 1:25 PM (PT)
At the MINORITY MEDIA AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COUNCIL's Access to Capital and Telecommunications Conference in WASHINGTON TODAY (7/20), FCC Chairman JULIUS GENACHOWSKI stressed the importance of broadband access in his remarks, calling broadband "the indispensable infrastructure of the 21st century" and calling for the implementation of the Commission's National Broadband Plan. He outlined the benefits the Commission projects that the plan will bring, and noted that the plan includes the extension of the Lifeline and Linkup programs to apply to broadband, and establishes a Digital Literacy Corps to help people acquire online skills.
GENACHOWSKI's remarks came at the same time the FCC released its 6th Broadband Deployment Report, telling Congress that between 14 and 24 million Americans still lack access to broadband, and "the immediate prospects for deployment to them are bleak." The report, said the Commission, "underscores the need for comprehensive reform of the Universal Service Fund, innovative approaches to unleashing new spectrum, and removal of barriers to infrastructure investment."
At the same conference, a panel of three FCC Commissioners, ROBERT MCDOWELL, MEREDITH ATTWELL BAKER, and MIGNON CLYBURN stressed the opportunities in new media for minority entrepreneurs, and MCDOWELL urged minority operators to invest in new media rather than broadcasting, because "that is where the next generation is going to go." He pointed out that while valuations of broadcast properties may be lowering and stations may become more affordable, that may be because revenues are in decline.
MCDOWELL also came out strongly in favor of reinstating the tax certificate program to encourage sales of media properties to minorities, calling it "a no-brainer." CLYBURN raised the issue of consolidation as a barrier to minority ownership, and all agreed that restricted access to capital was a problem.