Entries Matching: Non-Discrimination
The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:
“Fox has said it is not allowing customers of Cablevision's Internet access service to connect to Fox Web sites or to Fox content on Hulu.com.
“It's bad enough that millions of consumers in New York and Philadelphia are being deprived of programming distributed by cable. Blocking Web sites, however, is totally out of bounds in a dispute like this.
“This case shows the dangers of unchecked media consolidation and of a retransmission consent regime badly in need of reform. Consumers should not have their access to Web content threatened because a giant media company has a dispute over cable programming carriage. The anti-competitive aspects, particularly when it comes to online video programming, are glaringly obvious.
I occassionally suspect my colleagues in the Public Interest community lack a sense of humor -- although perhaps it is simply that I am in a more relaxed frame of mind after my annual vacation from the 21st Century. I am neither surprised nor outraged at the recent news that members of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) are picking up where the FCC "secret meetings" left off and trying to come up with a net neutrality consensus framework. To me, it seems rather sad and funny. My only surprise is that even in Washington, the notion of an industry trade association working with its members is anything unusual or significant. I mean, that's what industry trade associations do after all.
This summer has been one of the most exhausting in recent memory. First, there has been a constant barrage of record heat and humidity. Second, there is the continuing battle over whether and how to preserve the FCC's authority to protect broadband consumers and ensure universal broadband access. While the former is somewhat predictable for Washington, the latter has been like a soap opera, with lots of plot twists, make-ups and break-ups and nearly a few tears (of utter frustration).
For whatever reason, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues its misguided game of “Let’s Make A Deal” with the big telecom empires. Since the end of June, FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus has convened representatives from AT&T, Verizon, the National Cable Telecommunications Association, Google, Skype and the Open Internet Coalition in an effort to try to have those negotiators do what FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski apparently won’t do – make a decision about the future of broadband and the Internet in this country.
As far apart as the parties are, it’s increasingly unlikely that any overarching deal will be reached, even though negotiating sessions are scheduled for today (Aug. 4) and tomorrow (Aug. 5), following a marathon Saturday session on July 31. The Empire is stuck in 2005, giving nothing up and expecting surrender from the other side.
I hope someone made a videotape of my debate with Ray Gifford at NARUC. For my money, it provided the most succinct and straightforward framework for arguing about FCC broadband authority and where we ought to go from here. Ray framed it quite well as a conflict in vision between a classic Progressive Era philosophy and “economic analytics.” While I’m willing to debate in the economic analytics world (the two are not mutually exclusive, and economics informs progressive philosophy as much as concerns about public safety and consumer protection inform economic analytics), I think this makes a fairly good framework for how to approach these issues. Indeed, as a result of framing this as a difference in worldview, we avoided a lot of the acrimony and repetition that usually defines these debates.