Kevin Martin says FCC actions during his tenure have helped close the “digital divide” for minorities.
In remarks prepared for the Rainbow Push Coalition at the annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit, the chairman said one focus has been promoting availability and adoption of broadband Internet access. “We have made significant progress on this point,” he said.
“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,” Martin said. He said this success is confirmed by studies by the 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 broadband — 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.”
He cited FCC steps to improve broadband access for healthcare providers, address “skyrocketing” cable rates and prohibit building owners from denying residents a choice of video service providers.
In broadcast, Martin said the FCC is working to expand opportunities for entry for minorities. He pointed to the creation of LPFM and an order to facilitate the use of leased access channels.
He also said it has adopted actions requested by minority advocates: It eased construction permit deadlines to allow more time for buildouts; revised the EDP attribution standard to help investors; changed its distress sale policy; added an Equal Transactional Opportunity Rule that bars race or gender in broadcast transactions; and adopted a “zero-tolerance” policy for ownership fraud and “fast-track” ownership-fraud claims, among other steps to help encourage minority participation and access to capital.
“I believe we are making great progress, but there is much yet to be done,” Martin said.