View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 29, 1996
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                       AT OPENING OF MEETING WITH
                            MEDIA EXECUTIVES

State Dining Room

10:42 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Let me once again welcome all of you to the White House and thank you for coming for what is a truly historic meeting. Many of you have come from a long way away, and I am gratified by this astonishing and positive turnout.

Three weeks ago today, I signed the Telecommunications Bill. This is, as all of you well know, truly landmark legislation that will free the full force of American ingenuity and creativity. It will help us to better enrich minds, to create more jobs, to help us understand one another, to help us enjoy more entertainment, and to help us grow together into the future.

Those of you who are gathered here today will be the ones to unleash this American ingenuity. Arguably, you are the most powerful cultural force in the world. But we know, too, that freedom and creativity can truly thrive in a free society that is also a responsible society.

In the State of the Union address I challenged Congress to pass the Telecommunications Bill and to include within it the V-chip. Congress did that, agreeing that we should try the V-chip to give parents more control over the content of television programs their children watch so that those that young people plainly should not watch would at least be subject to some parental control and influence.

I asked you here today so that we could discuss our common responsibilities to help our children and our families. I believe the Telecom Bill and the V-chip, and perhaps most important of all, this entirely voluntary gathering of your industry, embodies what I see as the three great challenges this country faces as we go through this period of remarkable transformation. This Telecom Bill plainly will create more opportunities in this new era. The V-chip and your endeavors will enable us to exercise more responsibility to promote the strength and values of family. And if we do these things in a completely voluntary and open way, it will help us to come together as a national community.

There are so many forces in America today that are operating to divide the American people, and I think we should work on uniting ourselves. It's been my experience and observation that when this country is united we are never defeated, we always achieve what we set out to do. And you have gone a long way toward helping build that kind of community by your very presence here today. And I thank you for that.

We are here to discuss how we can best fulfill our common responsibilities in two ways: First, how we can give parents more control over what their children see on television; and, second, how we can improve children's programming.

Two months ago I doubt that many people thought that this meeting, or any meeting like this could have even occurred. But we have now made so much progress, and we're on the verge of making new progress. I am excited about what I think we can achieve here today for our children, our families and our future.

And let me say again, for an industry that gets more than its share of criticism, I think it is worth noting that you have all put aside all your vigorous internal competitive rivalries and dealt with what I think is a very profound set of questions for the future. And so I thank you for being here. I welcome you here, and I must say I'm very much looking forward to our discussion.

And I'd like to ask the Vice President now, who has worked so hard in helping to organize this meeting, to make a few opening remarks, and then we'll get down to work.

END 10:47 A.M. EST