Federal Communications Commission Chairman Mark S. Fowler yesterday chided Intelsat for "stirring anti-Americanism around the world" in an attempt to keep the U.S. from authorizing international satellite systems that would compete with the global telecommunications consortium.
Testifying before two House subcommittees at a joint hearing, Fowler said the agency would make every effort to prevent economic harm to the monopoly 109-nation consortium that provides telephone, telex and television transmission to most of the world. "We are concerned not to do anything to jeopardize the viability of Intelsat," he said.
President Reagan last November authorized alternative satellite systems to the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization but also said Intelsat should be protected from economic harm.
However, Fowler said the flood of letters that have come to his office from foreign country members of the consortium protesting competition to Intelsat was inconsistent with the policies of some foreign countries themselves.
"Other countries in the world already have separate systems while complaining that the U.S. wants them," he told members of two subcommittees of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Fowler cited such international systems as Eutelsat, a regional European system, and Arabsat, which provides service between countries of the Middle East.
Fowler also said the Soviet Union, which might become a member of the Intelsat consortium within another two years, is another example of a country that already had an international system -- Intersputnik -- which competes with Intelsat.
"Intelsat is opening its arms to the Soviet Union and yet the same organization has been stirring anti-Americanism around the world about our competitive systems -- I find that rather outrageous," he said.
Fowler said the FCC would place the "most weight" on the president's directive to authorize alternative satellite systems to the 21-year-old Intelsat, which the United States built and launched, and in which the United States now holds a 23 percent share, rather than letters from countries protesting the systems.
Richard Colino, American director general of Intelsat, yesterday said Fowler had misinterpreted Intelsat. "To imply that sovereign nations, acting through their diplomatic representatives and telecommunications administrations, would put forth viewpoints they did not believe in their letters or allow words to be put in their mouths by this staff is to discredit and misunderstand both their motives and actions," he said.
Colino added the Soviet Union, as a member of the International Telecommunications Union, has a right to join Intelsat as long as it adheres to the Intelsat Treaty, but that the Intersputnik system itself "is a separate international organization which cannot join Intelsat, nor has it been invited to do so."