Genachowski: Timely Resolution of Carriage Disputes a Priority

FCC nominee says he'll work with Senate Commerce Committee to make commission a "more efficient forum"

Enforcing program carriage rules is an "important task" and the FCC needs to resolve disputes "in a timely manner."

That was the answer of FCC chair nominee Julius Genachowski to the suggestion by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) that the FCC "rarely resolves carriage disputes in a timely way."

Genachowski's answer was one of several to Rockefeller in answering written questions as part of his nomination hearing process, according to a copy of the questions and answers supplied by the Commerce Committee.

Genachowski said he would work with the committee to help the FCC be a "more efficient forum" (Rockefeller's term) for resolving those complaints.

He will have an ally in his fellow nominee, Republican Robert McDowell, who is on the record calling for more expeditious complaint resolution.

The would-be chairman made no promises about being able to deploy 100 megabits-per-second broadband networks "ubiquitously" by 2015, which was part of a resolution introduced in the last Congress by Rockefeller and then-Senator Barack Obama.

Asked by Rockefeller how that 2015 deadline could be met, Genachowski placed it in the broader picture of the FCC's broadband charter, but did agree to make "tackling the issue," part of the FCC's national broadband rollout plan.

"Extending next-generation broadband networks to all Americans is a vital national goal," he said. "Congress has entrusted the FCC with the task of developing a national broadband plan, which shall include 'an analysis of the most effective and efficient mechanisms for ensuring broadband access by all people of the United States' and 'shall establish benchmarks for meeting that goal.'"

One of the key debates is whether speed or ubiquity of baseline service best meets that goal, or whether both are necessary for meaningful digital citizenship.

"If confirmed, I will ensure that the Plan is developed pursuant to a transparent, fair, and data-driven process that is open to, and seeks the best ideas from, all stakeholders." he said. "While I recognize that the goal of a ubiquitous 100 mpbs network by 2015 is an ambitious one, if confirmed, I will look forward to the Commission tackling this issue thoroughly as part of its plan and as part of its effort to seek universal service in a way that unlocks opportunity and prosperity for all Americans."

No word yet on when Genachowski and McDowell will get a Senate vote on their nominations. Rockefeller's committee has already approved them, but Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was still working on an agreement for a vote, according to a spokesperson, though he was looking to get them in place as quickly as possible. If that vote does not come before Friday, it can be no quicker than July 6, since the Congress is on July 4 break next week.