” I want to begin by thanking Reverend Jackson for inviting me to be here today and for hosting the FCCâ€™s media ownership hearing held at Rainbow Push headquarters in Chicago.
Technology today touches almost every aspect of our lives. We are dependent upon it for our news, our information and our entertainment. Itâ€™s an exciting time in the media and telecommunications industriesâ€”but it is also a challenging one.
The Commission has taken a number of steps to improve the communications landscape for all Americans, including minorities.
A particular point of focus has been promoting the availability and adoption of broadband internet access. We have made significant progress on this point. The Commission has acted to remove regulatory barriers to broadband deployment, and the result has been a significant increase in the number of Americans subscribing to broadband at the same time that the price for broadband services has declined. This success has been confirmed by studies by the independent Pew Internet and American Life Project.
This has resulted in a significant closing of the digital divide. For instance, in March of 2005, when I became Chairman, Pew found that only 14% of African Americans subscribed to broadbandâ€”among the lowest of any major demographic group. Today 40% of African Americans have a broadband internet connection at home, an increase of 31% since March of 2006 and an increase of 186% since March of 2005.
The Commission has also taken steps to address skyrocketing cable rates. Iâ€™m sure I donâ€™t have to tell you that cable rates have risen faster than the rate of any other communications service. But you might not know how significant that disparity is. The average cost of the expanded cable package (the standard cable package) almost doubled from 1995 to 2005â€”increasing 93%â€“while the cost of other communication services didnâ€™t just increase less, they fell. Long distance calls, wireless telephone calls, international calls â€“ the price for all these services decreased significantly. Why the difference? The cable industry needs more competition.
Another impediment to competition lies in the fact that people who live in apartment buildings often have no choice of companies when it comes to their video service provider. This is because building owners often strike exclusive deals with one cable operator to serve the entire building, eliminating competition.
The Commission recently eliminated this anti-competitive practice by prohibiting building owners from denying residents a choice among video service providers. I believe those who live in apartments should have the benefits of competition, too: lower rates and better service.
Minorities in particular will benefit. That is because a greater percentage of minority-headed households live in apartment buildings. According to the American Housing Survey Report, 40% of all households headed by people of color live in apartments, compared to 27% of all households.”