Washington — After the Cable Show crowd got a wake-up call Tuesday from the fifes, drums and bugles of the U.S. Army Old Guard Army Fife and Drum Corps, acting chairwoman Mignon Clyburn took the stage for her first, and likely only, Cable Show in the big chair, and she came armed with praise for the industry, as well as a call to action.
“What a phenomenal conference…. You have done an incredible job of connecting this nation,” she told the audience in a brief Q&A with NCTA president Michael Powell. She pointed out that most of America has access to broadband, but that the country can’t be satisfied with reaching the majority. Almost a million Americans haven’t adopted broadband, she said, adding that cost and literacy were factors. “There are a whole host of people who don’t see what’s in it for them,” she said.
Clyburn said it was “phenomenal” that the cable industry was a big driver of the move of content to the anytime anywhere model.
While Clyburn has been identifying herself as acting chairwoman, Powell said that technically, there was no such thing. “There is nothing acting about you in my mind,” he said.
Convention cochair Abbe Raven introduced Clyburn with the observation that after nearly 80 years, “we can say there is a woman running the FCC.” Powell echoed the historic note, saying she had been an “exemplar” to men as well as women because of her achievement. He asked her what that achievement meant to her. Clyburn said she thought about her grandmother, who was not allowed a full education “due to the laws of the land” at the time, but always encouraged her.
Powell pointed to the president’s announcement of a goal of connecting 99% of students to high-speed broadband within five years and asked whether she thought Wi-Fi should be part of that equation. She said “absolutely,” and that the solution needed to include both licensed and unlicensed services. She said it was not going to be possible to hardwire the entire country and that the goal should be connecting in the most efficient way possible.
Asked what her agenda would be, Clyburn cited statutory requirements like measuring video competition and continued work on incentive auctions, which she said was sucking up a lot of oxygen at the agency, but in a good way since it would be a win-win for industry and consumers.