Gore Promises to Ease Communications Laws

Article excerpt

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES _ Vice President Al Gore is offering executives at high technology and Hollywood companies escape from burdensome regulations as they develop new communications technologies, as long as they offer their products to everyone.

Gore made the offer in a speech Tuesday at an "information superhighway summit," a gathering held to examine the future for business and consumers as television, telephone and computer technologies merge.

Gore said the Clinton administration would seek new, more flexible communications laws. Cable, phone and wireless companies could choose to follow the new laws rather than the one under which they are now regulated.

But to be able to make that choice, the companies would have to assure their future services wouldn't be available just to the privileged.

"The nation would thus be assured that these companies would provide open access to information providers and consumers and the benefits of competition, including lower prices and higher-quality services," he said.

The new laws would be added to the Communications Act of 1934, Gore said.

They would demonstrate more flexibility in the government as it adjusts with industry to rapid technological change, Gore said.

But he said that new rules alone won't assure fairness in the high-tech future and he challenged executives to connect the nation's classrooms, libraries, hospitals and clinics by January 2000.

"We must do this to realize the full potential of information to educate, to save lives, provide access to health care and lower medical costs," Gore said.

Gore also expressed support for bills already proposed to end the monopoly held by local phone companies and transfer the oversight of the regional Bell operating companies from the courts to the Federal Communications Commission.

Gore's speech, at the University of California, Los Angeles, was generally well received by the executives.

"I like what I heard," said Tom Norris, vice president of government affairs for AT T. …