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Questions Senators Should Be Asking Julius Genachowski

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Washington, D.C., June 16, 2009—This afternoon, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation will hold a confirmation hearing on Julius Genachowski, President Obama’s nominee to be Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.  As the FCC begins to form its “national broadband plan for our future,” the Chairman will play a major role in shaping the future of U.S. telecom and media policy.

“Mr. Genachowski will prove to be a wise choice if he recognizes the private sector’s primacy in expanding consumer options and is aware of the harms stemming from centralized regulation of the telecommunications marketplace,” said Wayne Crews, Competitive Enterprise Institute Vice President for Policy. “To the extent Mr. Genachowski perpetuates unnecessary FCC involvement in communications and speech, or extends the commission’s reach to new turf, he is a bad choice."

“Rather than favoring any particular business model, government should be rolling back price controls on broadband lines and reforming spectrum allocation rules so that the market has greater competition, not more regulation,” said Crews.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute suggests the following questions for Mr. Genachowski to shed some light on his views on the role of the market in broadband and media:

— What do you consider to be the FCC’s role in ensuring freedom of speech on the airwaves? How do you reconcile existing and proposed media regulations like broadcast localism rules, ownership restrictions, and the fairness doctrine with the First Amendment?

— Do you believe that spending public funds on broadband is a wise use of taxpayer dollars? Do you believe that every American, no matter where they live, has a right to high-speed broadband access, regardless of the cost?

— How successful do you believe the private sector has been in deploying broadband to U.S. homes and investing in network infrastructure? Do you believe that FCC line sharing rules promote investment in broadband networks?

— What do you think the FCC should do regarding the AWS3 spectrum (the 2155-2180mhz band)? Do you support Kevin Martin’s proposal to encumber that spectrum with restrictions on services, prices, and content?

— What can the FCC do to promote facilities-based competition? How can the FCC streamline the municipal video franchising process to enhance consumer choice in terms of both video and broadband services? 

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website at www.cei.org.