FCC Commissioner and former acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn spoke to the Hispanic Radio Conference on a variety of issues Thursday in Dallas. Co-Managing Partner of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth Frank Montero interviewed the commissioner, and first up was the controversial and nationwide debate on net neutrality. Clyburn, who supported the FCC decision last month, said, "You are in control over the Internet, not an Internet service provider. If you have your own device, as long as it's not harmful to the network, you are in control."
Clyburn amplified on her thumbs-up on the net neutrality vote, "What this means is that all data is created equal. There will not be any fast lanes or slow lanes. This is about a freedom, true freedom, when it comes to data flow and your freedom online."
Montero questioned the commissioner about what some saw as a lack of transparency in the passage of the regulations, and complaints from the Republican minority in the FCC that they had not had enough time to properly digest the bill. Cleburne responded, "What happens at the agency -- when we have an item that is teed up for a meeting, it's an internal requirement that we have that item 21 days in advance. We did get that item 21 days in advance." She continued, "This is the most open and participatory process in the world. Regardless of where you are, this was an engaged process, and millions spoke."
Clyburn addressed concerns of broadcasters and reassured the crowd that even with the focus on new media, the Internet, and the latest net neutrality rulings, radio still holds a special place for the FCC commissioner. She said, "I credit radio in particular for a lot of my success. It allowed me to express myself in a way no other medium could." She told the attendees at the Hispanic Radio Conference -- and Sports Radio Conference attendees as well in the joint session -- that the commission is very well aware of the significance of radio, especially the vulnerability of AM radio. She said regarding AM, "Any media platform so rich and accessible is worth preserving and enhancing [it] is worth the FCC's attention."
Regarding assistance for minority ownership, Clyburn noted, "We had a new-media type of workshop, a full-day exchange of incredible app developers. We're not only looking at the legacy space, but new media. We would love to be able -- I was not able to put forth and give the opportunity for the FCC to do critical information needs studies. We don't have the updated data to do any targeted program. I'm hopeful that there will be some academic institutions that will build those kind of studies and we could build those kinds of ecosystems."
Clyburn continued, "We need to do a better job in diversity of ownership -- because some needs are not being met. It's something we very, very much care about and are trying to address." Clyburn did agree with other conference speakers that partnerships are a key area that would help many seeking ownership in minority broadcasting.
Pirate radio is still a major issue, and Clyburn noted that the commission is still very active in that sphere, despite fewer actions taken against pirate stations in recent years. She said, "Some of the challenges include security for our men and women out in the field. The challenge is manpower and security [for our teams]. It's like Whack-a-Mole. When we shut them down, they pop up again. We need to figure out what makes them popular and profitable and to fulfill those needs in different ways."
(3/6/2015 2:27:58 PM)
Regarding the comments about AM radio. I really appreciated and agree with the comments made about AM being rich and worth preserving. I hope it is not too late. Many years of neglect has taken a toll. Crap equipment on the receiving end is a biggie. Adding FM translators is great to get content out, but in the end FM translators are FM stations and not AM.
On the subject of finding out what makes Pirate radio stations popular.
Maybe these pirates actually offer something people want to hear.
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