THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Statement by Greg Simon, Chief Domestic Policy Adviser to the Vice President, on Proposed Telecommunications Bills
The Administration notes with interest the introduction of a bill to change communications laws by Reps. Bliley and Fields and a second bill introduced by Rep. Hyde. The Administration will present its formal views at the appropriate time to the Congress, but several aspects of the Bliley-Fields legislation should be noted today.
The Bliley-Fields bill does not do enough to protect Americans from telephone and cable monopolies. As Rep. Markey and others have noted, the bill would lead to significant increases in cable rates for most Americans before there is real competition in most communities. The bill would allow unlimited rate increases for captive customers of monopoly providers with the effective date pegged not to the emergence of competition, but to the closing of the polls in next year's election.
We also are concerned that the bill allows regional phone monopolies to get into other markets before they have properly opened their local markets to competition. The conditions are insufficient to guarantee that local phone companies will not exploit their local monopoly to gain an unfair advantage in their existing new markets. The legislation as introduced is more supportive of monopolies' interests than those of American consumers.
We support a consensus process similar to the one followed last year in the House, and will work with both the Judiciary and Commerce Committees to produce legislation that will open markets, lower prices and provide the consumers with the benefits of real competition as soon as possible.