Letter to Senator Ernest F. Hollings on Telecommunications Reform Legislation
I enjoyed our telephone conversation today regarding the upcoming conference on the telecommunications reform bill and would like to follow-up on your request regarding the specific issues of concern to me in the proposed legislation.
As I said in our discussion, I am committed to promoting competition in every aspect of the telecommunications and information industries. I believe that the legislation should protect and promote diversity of ownership and opinions in the mass media, should protect consumers from unjustified rate increases for cable and telephone services, and, in particular, should include a test specifically designed to ensure that the Bell companies entering into long distance markets will not impede competition.
Earlier this year, my Administration provided comments on S. 652 and H.R. 1555 as passed. I remain concerned that neither bill provides a meaningful role for the Department of Justice in safeguarding competition before local telephone companies enter new markets. I continue to be concerned that the bills allow too much concentration within the mass media and in individual markets, which could reduce the diversity of news and information available to the public. I also believe that the provisions allowing mergers of cable and telephone companies are overly broad. In addition, I oppose deregulating cable programming services and equipment rates before cable operators face real competition. I remain committed, as well, to the other concerns contained in those earlier statements on the two bills.
I applaud the Senate and the House for including provisions requiring all new televisions to contain technology that will allow parents to block out programs with violent or objectionable content. I strongly support retention in the final bill of the Snowe-Rockefeller provision that will ensure that schools, libraries and hospitals have access to advanced telecommunications services.
I look forward to working with you and your colleagues during the conference to produce legislation that effectively addresses these concerns.
NOTE: Senator Ernest F. Hollings was the ranking member of the Communications Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. This letter was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on October 30.
William J. Clinton, Letter to Senator Ernest F. Hollings on Telecommunications Reform Legislation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/220487