Excerpt of news conference conducted by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) for Alaska reporters.
Topic: SBC Acquisition of AT&T.
Date: February 3, 2005.
Source: Melanie Alvord, Senate Commerce Committee.
 

Question: I was just going to ask you about, it looks like the AT&T, you're going to be looking at some mergers, you know AT&T being bought out for example, and I was just wondering if you have any generic thoughts on these or whether thatís something that will fall under your jurisdiction?

Chairman Stevens: We have asked that AT&T and SBC brief us in sort of a briefing session rather than a hearing to determine whether a hearing would be required. We will have such a meeting in the near future. That will be a meeting that Senator Inouye and I will conduct and we'll invite the members of the Full Committee because we've kept communications at the Full Committee level. That is an inquiry, a briefing. We have those. For instance, we had a briefing on VOIP not too long ago. We're going to have a series of briefings on various other technologies as we go forward, but I do think that that's something that we ought to be better informed on. It's sort of a surprise, I think, that this occurred. It does create, I think, about the third largest entity in the communications field.

Question: As a general matter, how do you feel about large corporations becoming even larger. How do you think that impacts, for example, your constituents? I mean this goes back, in 1984 the phone company was broken down, but this creates, it really goes back to almost a Ma Bell concept to a certain degree.

Chairman Stevens: My mind goes back to an Esquire cartoon. Did you ever see those? On the front page youíd see a circumstance and youíd turn the page and you'd see the reaction. This one was, a monarch standing on top of a castle looking down, he had a whole line of creditors standing there holding a bill in their hand, all screaming for payment. You turn the page, by the way there was an advisor standing next to that monarch. You turn the page and thereís this giant that has just broken down the front door and he says: consolidate your creditors, got any other good ideas. Now the question is whether bigness is bad per se in communications. We donít know that, literally. That was the presumption of the judge in the AT&T situation where he required AT&T to be divested of certain functions and that led to the creation of what we called the Baby Bells at that time. And, in terms of subsequent, really, workload for the FCC, it obviously raised the workload to where they can't complete everything theyíve got to do. One of the things we have to do is look at the FCC and find a way that it can do functionally and in a reasonable period of time the problems that Congress assigns to it. Because, with the diversification of so many different functions in communications, they just canít keep up with the world right now.

Question: But, I mean, do you think bigness is bad, huge consolidations like that?

Chairman Stevens: I don't have a feeling that consolidation is per se bad. The question is, whatís it affect on consumers, whatís its affect on future investment for improvement of the system, for research, what does it really affect in terms of the job market. How does it really impact the overall economy of the country? And, beyond that, anti-trust is not our jurisdiction, but the anti-trust concept does come into play, as to whether or not itís eliminating competition. Those are very serious questions. That is why we are going to get briefed to see what really is going to happen. I understand that they will divest themselves of some elements of one company or the other and we need to know more about that.