FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2013
Washington, DC - Today, the Senate Commerce Committee held a confirmation hearing to question President Obama's FCC Chair nominee, Mr. Thomas Wheeler. At some point in the future, the Senate will vote on whether to confirm Mr. Wheeler, who has spent nearly forty years in the media and telecommunications space. He is the former head of the National Cable Television Association and of the wireless trade association, CTIA.The National Hispanic Media Coalition, NHMC, is encouraged that Mr. Wheeler testified that universal broadband service will be one of his main priorities as FCC Chair. Additionally, NHMC appreciates Mr. Wheeler's stated commitment to advancing civil society through communications, to include promoting diversity.
In furtherance of that commitment, NHMC hopes that Mr. Wheeler will embrace the following principles:
Responsible and inclusive media. Once Mr. Wheeler is confirmed as FCC Chair, he should grant NHMC's petition for inquiry on hate speech in media and open a docket through which the public may comment on the extent and effects of hate speech in their local media environments. He should also initiate a comprehensive assessment of the information needs of communities of color, the barriers to entry for media and telecommunications ownership and the role of media consolidation in the media's lack of viewpoint and ownership diversity.
Universal and affordable broadband and telephone connections. The FCC's Lifeline program is bettering lives by ensuring that poor Americans remain connected to telephone service. Mr. Wheeler should protect the program and work towards expanding it to provide affordable broadband access. In addition, Mr. Wheeler should expand the E-rate program, and work the the White House on President Obama's ConnectED initiative, so that schools and libraries have faster Internet connections and well-trained teachers and staff that can assist children during and after school hours. This is essential so that children in our poorest neighborhoods can complete homework projects. Finally, Mr. Wheeler should ensure that affordable and reliable connections remain available to all people, regardless of their location or financial status.
"I am very pleased that Mr. Wheeler has stated a commitment to diversity and I look forward to an open and constructive dialogue with him once he assumes the FCC Chair position. I hope that this commitment includes a willingness to address historic Latino underrepresentation within the FCC itself. NHMC is committed to facilitating greater Latino inclusion at the FCC so that exemplary Latinos in the field have a seat at the table," stated NHMC's Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs, Jessica J. González.