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Special Event

AOL CEO Steve Case Testifies Before Senate Commerce Subcommittee

Aired March 2, 2000 - 11:00 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL TUCKER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's listen in to Steve Case in his statements before the subcommittee.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

STEVE CASE, CEO, AMERICA ONLINE: ... So while we believe the combination of our companies will allow us to make the most of what we see as a changing world, there are a few things that won't change. First, we will continue to provide consumers with the broadest, most empowering range of choices fostering the innovation and competition that are the Internet's driving force.

In the Internet age, companies must constantly innovate if they expect to succeed, and history shows that the most powerful innovations are created when we find new ways to join emerging technology with existing content. We hope AOL Time Warner will lead a new era of innovation within our industry by providing consumers with an ever-expanding array of content from music to movies to publishing to communications to financial services. And AOL Time Warner will never limit content diversity on any of our systems. If we did try to do that, consumers would waste no time in migrating to other Internet and media services.

The second commitment is we will continue working to earn consumers' trust and confidence. At AOL, we have put in place what we think is the best privacy policy in the industry, built on core principles of notice and choice. The same is true for Time Warner, a company that is committed to journalistic integrity and consumer trust, both on- and off-line.

I want to thank this committee for keeping consumer trust and confidence at the top of your agenda. Many companies, including both Time Warner and AOL, supported legislation to put in place protections so that information about children using the Internet could not be gathered without parental consent. We understand the importance of trust to Internet consumers.

As you know, the FTC is reviewing our industry's self-regulatory efforts. Armed with the information the FTC report will provide, we can engage in a deliberative process among members of Congress and the industry and consumers, which will tell us whether other privacy legislation is necessary. And I will personally be happy to work with you to try to reach the best result. One thing is certain, though: We share the same goal, which is protecting consumers and their families by establishing a new standard of privacy and security for the digital age while permitting the Internet to continue to flourish.

Third, we will continue to work to implement open access, further increasing consumers choices and enriching their online experience. Last year has been mentioned. I told this committee that history demonstrates that as long as infrastructure on which the Internet is built remains open, competition and innovation will flourish and that government and industry should work together to ensure a vibrant Internet marketplace.

We are seeing real progress in the marketplace on implementing open access, and we are proud of the role we have played in simulating that progress. Implementation of open access all across the nation is no longer a question of whether but rather of when. On the day we announced this merger, AOL and Time Warner committed to open this cable network for competition through multiple ISPs. This week, we took the next step, releasing a memorandum of understanding that will form the framework for delivering AOL and other ISPs over Time Warner cable and give consumers real choice.

Let me be very clear about what that framework means for consumers. Broadband consumers will not go through AOL unless they choose AOL. If they choose another Internet service provider, they will not see AOL or its front screen, and they will not be blocked from any content they wish to see. That's real open access, and it's the right policy grounded in the right principles for consumers, for the cable industry and for the growth of the Internet.

Finally, we will continue to broaden the reach and extend the benefits of the Internet, leaving no community behind. Both AOL and Time Warner have taken significant steps to help close the digital divide, the gap between those who have access to these new tools and those who don't. At AOL, we are helping to launch PowerUp, a public/private partnership to teach young people the skills they need and give them the guidance they need to make the most of their potential in this new connected world.

Now, this is not just a problem of the inner city. That is why they AOL Foundation created the AOL Rural Telecommunications Awards which awarded grants to people who are using the interactive medium to revitalize towns with less than 10,000 people. We will take this challenge seriously at AOL Time Warner not only as a company, but as individuals with a shared personal conviction that we must use our leadership to build a better world.

These are the issues we all need to address to truly build a global medium that empowers people and truly benefits society, not just the Internet industry. The truth is...

TUCKER: All right, we have been listening to Steve Case, CEO of AOL, again, testifying before the subcommittee on commerce in the Senate, repeating three themes that he and Chairman Levin started earlier this week, which was that they intend to allow competition, that open access is important, diversity in programming is paramount to thriving and surviving in the Internet age, and the issue of privacy again being reiterated by this committee with a greater priority, actually, than what we saw earlier in the week.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN ANCHOR: Actually, that was the first thing Mr. Case said, was that the combination of Time Warner and AOL would never limit diversity, and that's really the heart of the antitrust concerns, that Time Warner's cable systems would not allow other Internet service providers, and that was the first thing, pretty much, out of mouth.

TUCKER: Exactly, as well as concerns about privacy which have been raised lately on the Net, and that issue would seem to be coming under some scrutiny today.

We will continue to monitor this hearing and we will bring you developments as they warrant.

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