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Ask SAM: What does the federal secretary of transportation do?

Ask SAM: What does the federal secretary of transportation do?


Q: What exactly does the Secretary of Transportation at the national level do? If Pete Buttigieg is confirmed, will he upgrade Amtrak service here in North Carolina? As a college student, he traveled thousands of miles via rail and is a supporter of rail travel.

— J.L.

Answer: According to the Department of Transportation’s website, “the secretary oversees the operating administrations of DOT and coordinates policies to provide an efficient and economical national transportation system.”

If confirmed by the senate, Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana and presidential candidate, will be the first openly gay member of a presidential cabinet.

According to the Associated Press, one of President-elect Joe Biden’s plans is to improve the country’s transportation infrastructure, that Buttigieg would oversee. The federal agencies that are within the USDOT are: Federal Aviation Administration; Federal Highway Administration; Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; Federal Railroad Administration; Federal Transit Administration; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Maritime Administration; Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology; Bureau of Transportation Statistics; St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.;and Office of the Inspector General.

So far, no specific plans or timetables have been announced.

Q: What in the world is going on with TEGNA and WFMY. I am most disturbed that they have pulled all their programs off AT&T direct TV and I cannot watch some of my favorite shows.

— S.M.

Answer: WFMY and AT&T have not been able to reach an agreement about how much WFMY is going to pay AT&T to be on their platforms. Anne Bentley, a spokeswoman for TEGNA Inc. the parent company of WFMY had this statement:  

“Nothing is more important to us than serving our viewers and community. Our focus is on offering the best local news, weather and sports possible, along with delivering great network entertainment programming and the NFL, NCAA sports, and more. Part of what enables us to make local news, sports and network programs available are the deals we reach with companies like AT&T, which owns DIRECTV.

Almost without exception, we reach those deals quickly and efficiently. After all, it is in everyone’s best interest to continue serving our viewers. But unfortunately, this year AT&T has decided to refuse to reach a fair deal with us, which is why our station is not currently available on their systems.

We can’t tell you why AT&T has taken this approach. But we can assure you that it is not because we are being unreasonable. Far from it. In fact, we are prepared to reach a deal at rates that are competitive with rates we have recently agreed to with pay-TV providers of all sizes.

Eventually, we hope and believe that AT&T will change course and do right by viewers who continue to pay their full bill each month. But until that time comes, viewers should consider their options. Our station remains available on virtually every other provider and streaming service in the market.”

SAM’s 5 favorite questions of 2020



Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101

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