James Oberstar on Technology
Democrat/Farmer/Labor Representative (MN-8)
Voted YES on delaying digital TV conversion by four months.
Congressional Summary:Amends the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act to delay the transition of television broadcasting from analog to digital to June 13, 2009. Requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to extend for a 116-day period the licenses for recovered spectrum, including the construction requirements associated with those licenses.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. RICK BOUCHER (D, VA-9): Fully 6.5 million households are totally unprepared for the transition on February 17; these 6.5 million households will lose all of their television service, and that number represents about 5.7% of the total American television viewing public. If almost 6%of the nation's households lose all of their television service, I think that most people would declare that the digital television transition has been a failure. In recognition of that reality, this legislation would delay the transition until June 12.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. JOE LINUS BARTON (R, TX-6): The majority is trying to fix a problem that I do not think really exists. We have sent out 33 million coupons: 22 million of those coupons have been redeemed, and 11 million coupons are outstanding. The outstanding coupons are being redeemed, I think, by about 500,000 a week, something like that. In my opinion, you could keep the hard date and not have a problem, but if you think there is a problem, it is not from lack of money. We have appropriated $1.3 billion. About half of that is still in the Treasury, so the redemption rate is only about 52%. Even though we are delaying this until June 12 if this bill becomes law, according to the acting chairman of the FCC, 61% of the television stations in America are going to go ahead and convert to digital. 143 television stations already have converted, and in those areas where they have converted, I am not aware that there has been a huge problem.
Reference: DTV Delay Act;
; vote number 2009-H052
on Mar 4, 2009
Voted NO on retroactive immunity for telecoms' warrantless surveillance.
Proponents argument for voting YEA:Rep. ETHERIDGE. This bipartisan bill provides the critical tools that our intelligence community needs to ensure the safety of our Nation--to authorize surveillance in the case of an emergency situation, p
companies that participated in the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program. It sets a dangerous precedent for Congress to approve a law that dismisses ongoing court cases simply on the basis that the companies can show that the administrat
Reference: FISA Amendments Act;
; vote number 2008-437
on Jun 20, 2008
Voted YES on establishing "network neutrality" (non-tiered Internet).
An amendment, sponsored by Rep Markey (D, MA) which establishes "network neutrality" by requiring that broadband network service providers have the following duties:
Proponents say that network neutrality ensures that everybody is treated alike with regard to use of the Internet,
which has been a principle applied to Internet use since it was first originated. Proponents say that without network neutrality, large corporations will pay for exclusive preferential service and hence small websites will be relegated to a second tier of inferior service. Opponents say that the Markey amendment forsakes the free market in favor of government price controls, and would chill investment in broadband network and deployment of new broadband services, and would reduce choice for internet users. Voting YES favors the network neutrality viewpoint over the price control viewpoint.
Reference: Communications, Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act;
Bill HR 5252 Amendment 987
; vote number 2006-239
on Jun 8, 2006
- not to block or interfere with the ability of any person to use a broadband connection to access the Internet;
- to operate its broadband network in a nondiscriminatory manner so that any person can offer or provide content and services over the broadband network with equivalent or better capability than the provider extends to itself or affiliated parties, and without the imposition of a charge for such nondiscriminatory network operation;
- if the provider prioritizes or offers enhanced quality of service to data of a particular type, to prioritize or offer enhanced quality of service to all data of that type without imposing a surcharge or other consideration for such prioritization or enhanced quality of service.
Voted YES on increasing fines for indecent broadcasting.
Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005: Expresses the sense of Congress that broadcast television station licensees should reinstitute a family viewing policy for broadcasters. Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to provide that for violators of any Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license, if a violator is determined by the FCC to have broadcast obscene, indecent, or profane material, the amount of forfeiture penalty shall not exceed $500,000 for each violation. Sets forth:
Reference: Bill sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton [R, MI-6];
; vote number 2005-035
on Feb 16, 2005
- additional factors for determining indecency penalties;
- indecency penalties for non-licensees;
- deadlines for actions on complaints;
- additional remedies for indecent broadcasts; and
- provisions for license disqualification, revocation, or renewal consideration for violations of indecency prohibitions.
Voted NO on promoting commercial human space flight industry.
Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004: States that Congress finds that:
Reference: Bill sponsored by Rep Dana Rohrabacher [R, CA-46];
; vote number 2004-541
on Nov 20, 2004
- the goal of safely opening space to the American people and to their private commercial enterprises should guide Federal space investments, policies, and regulations;
- private industry has begun to develop commercial launch vehicles capable of carrying human beings into space;
- greater private investment in these efforts will stimulate the commercial space transportation industry;
- space transportation is inherently risky, and the future of the commercial human space flight industry will depend on its ability to continually improve its safety performance; and
- the regulatory standards governing human space flight must evolve as the industry matures so that regulations neither stifle technology development nor expose crew or space flight participants to avoidable risks as the public comes to expect greater safety for crew and space flight participants from the industry.
Voted NO on banning Internet gambling by credit card.
Internet Gambling Bill: Vote to pass a bill that would prohibit credit card companies and other financial institutions from processing Internet gambling transactions. Exempt from the ban would be state regulated or licensed transactions.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Spencer, R-AL;
Bill HR 2143
; vote number 2003-255
on Jun 10, 2003
Voted NO on allowing telephone monopolies to offer Internet access.
Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act of 2001: Vote to pass a bill that would allow the four regional Bell telephone companies to enter the high-speed Internet access market via their long-distance connections whether or not they have allowed competitors into their local markets as required under the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The bill would allow the Bells to increase the fees they charge competitors for lines upgraded for broadband services from "wholesale rates" to "just and reasonable rates." It also would also allow the Bells to charge for giving competitors access to certain rights-of-way for broadband access. Certain FCC regulatory oversight would be maintained although the phone companies' high speed services would be exempted from regulation by the states.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Tauzin, R-LA;
Bill HR 1542
; vote number 2002-45
on Feb 27, 2002
Facilitate nationwide 2-1-1 phone line for human services.
Oberstar co-sponsored facilitating nationwide 2-1-1 phone line for human services
A bill to facilitate nationwide availability of 2-1-1 telephone service for information and referral on human services & volunteer services. Congress makes the following findings:
- The FCC has assigned 2-1-1 as the national telephone number for information and referral on human services.
- 2-1-1 facilitates critical connections between families seeking services, including community-based and faith-based organizations.
- There are approximately 1,500,000 nonprofit organizations in the US [which would be listed in the 2-1-1 service].
- Government funding supports well-intentioned programs that are not fully utilized because of a lack of access to such programs.
- A national cost-benefit analysis estimates a net value to society of a national 2-1-1 system approaching $130,000,000 in the first year alone.
- While 69% of the population has access to 2-1-1 telephone service from a land line in
41 States, inadequate funding prevents access to that telephone service throughout each of the States.
- 2-1-1 telephone service facilitates the availability of a single repository where comprehensive data on all community services is collected & maintained.
Introductory statement by Sponsor:
Sen. CLINTON: In the immediate aftermath of the devastation of September 11, most people did not know where to turn for information about their loved ones. Fortunately for those who knew about it, 2-1-1 was already operating in Connecticut, and it was critical in helping identify the whereabouts of victims, connecting frightened children with their parents, providing information on terrorist suspects, and linking ready volunteers with victims.
Every single American should have a number they can call to cut through the chaos of an emergency. That number is 2-1-1. It's time to make our citizens and our country safer by making this resource available nationwide.
Source: Calling for 2-1-1 Act (S.211 and H.R.211) 07-HR211 on Jan 9, 2007
No performance royalties for radio music.
Oberstar signed Local Radio Freedom Act
CONCURRENT RESOLUTION Supporting the Local Radio Freedom Act
Source: SCR.14&HCR.49 2009-SCR14 on Mar 30, 2009
- Whereas the US enjoys broadcasting and sound recording industries that are the envy of the world, due to the symbiotic relationship that has existed among these industries for many decades;
- Whereas for more than 80 years, Congress has rejected repeated calls by the recording industry to impose a performance fee on local radio stations for simply playing music on the radio;
- Whereas local radio stations provide free publicity and promotion to the recording industry and performers of music in the form of radio air play, interviews with performers, introduction of new performers, and concert promotions;
Whereas Congress found that 'the sale of many sound recordings and the careers of many performers benefited considerably from airplay and other over-the-air broadcasting;
- Whereas there are many thousands of local radio stations that will suffer severe economic hardship if any new performance fee is imposed, as will many other small businesses that play music including bars, restaurants, shopping centers and transportation facilities;
- Resolved: That Congress should not impose any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge relating to the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station for broadcasting sound recordings over-the-air, or on any business for such public performance of sound recordings.
Page last updated: Mar 09, 2011