WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), held a legislative hearing today to examine four bills introduced by members from both sides of the aisle, continuing #SubCommTech’s strong tradition of bipartisan work.
Chairman Blackburn listens as witnesses deliver their opening statements
Chairman Blackburn kicked things off commending the bipartisan efforts that went into the legislation discussed today, “Last month, we shocked the naysayers by shepherding many of the Subcommittee’s top priorities through the full Committee unanimously in RAY BAUM’S Act. Today, just as that package is about to head toward the President’s desk, we’ve got four more bipartisan bills that address everything from combating illegal pirate radio to identifying ways technology can help prevent suicide across the country. I couldn’t be more pleased with the work of Members of the subcommittee and all the important initiatives we’ve got going on this year.”
“Recognizing that small businesses are the engines our economy and do not require the same level of regulatory oversight as large entities, Mr. Schrader and I put forth a common sense proposal to create a regulatory environment that encourages innovation, spurs competition, and fosters consumer choice,” Latta said. “SERRO offers a pathway for regulatory relief for small entities by directing the FCC to streamline their existing waiver process. This will benefit small business and their customers by providing greater certainty, fewer costs, and administrative efficiency.”
Mr. Robert Gessner, President, MCTV, spoke to the challenges small communications entities face, stating, “Many FCC regulations take a one-size fits all approach and rely on a case-by-case waiver approach to give small entities the opportunity to show that there is good cause for targeted regulatory relief (typically in the form of an exemption from the rule or a delay in its effective date). However, in practice, deserving small entities often are deterred from seeking such relief because of the administrative costs involved in pursuing a waiver, and because there is no guarantee the FCC will act on a waiver request in a timely fashion.”
Mr. John H. Madigan, Vice President and Chief Public Policy Officer, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, testified about how the National Suicide Prevention Hotline Improvement Act could save lives, stating, “Suicide touches so many lives. And now, as more and more people speak out, we have reached the tipping point for action.” Mr. Madigan continued, “It’s time to answer that grassroots call for action. It’s time to wage war on suicide, like the war on cancer and Alzheimer’s, and put a stop to this tragic loss of life. The first line of defense can be a robust, 24-7, crisis support services for all Americans, in all fifty-states, the District of Columbia and all US territories, accessible by phone hotline, chat and text. H.R. 2345, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline Improvement Act of 2017 is first step in the right direction.”
In his testimony, Mr. David Donovan, President and Executive Director, New York State Broadcasters Association, discussed the PIRATE Act and the growing problem of illegal pirate radio, stating, “The PIRATE Act gives the FCC additional tools to address the growing pirate radio problem. It significantly increases fines to a maximum of $2 million and $100,000 per violation. Upon prior notice, it holds liable persons, including property owners, who “knowingly” facilitate illegal pirate operations. It gives the FCC the ability to go to Federal District court and obtain court orders to seize equipment. The PIRATE Act streamlines the enforcement process. It also authorizes the FCC to seize illegal pirate radio equipment if it discovers someone broadcasting illegally in real time. Finally, the PIRATE Act requires the FCC to conduct pirate radio enforcement sweeps in cities with a concentration of pirate radio stations. We are reaching the point where illegal pirate stations undermine the legitimacy and purpose of the FCC’s licensing system to the detriment of listeners in communities across the country. The PIRATE Act will help the FCC restore integrity to the system.”
Mr. Tim Donovan, Senior Vice President, Legislative Affairs, Competitive Carriers Association, highlighted the subcommittee’s efforts to expand broadband, saying, “CCA applauds this Committee’s steadfast efforts to preserve and expand mobile broadband nationwide. To provide mobile broadband, carriers must have access to finite spectrum resources, available only through license or lease from the Federal Communications Commission. Operators must be able to deploy infrastructure, the towers, small cells, and fiber that make up the physical network, to keep up with exponentially increasing demands for mobile broadband data services. And finally, carriers must be able to make a business case to deploy and upgrade these services.”
For more information on today’s hearing, including a background memo, witness testimony, and archived webcast, click here.