“The message: the FCC Chairman caved to the most powerful interests and is adopting a rule that may end the Internet’s historic openness to all software and content as a level playing field. This will undermine the Internet’s role in as an engine of economic innovation and democratic participation. The rule was written by and for the giants like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, who are cheering the rule. And the FCC Chairman is trying to fool the public into believing they should thank him.“
After earlier explaining why the FCC’s compromise(d) stance was “garbage”, Marvin Ammori laments Julius Genachowski’s sad sell-out on net neutrality. While the president is claiming victory here — it does, after all, follow the “solomonic or moronic” splitting-the-baby approach he likes to bring to every issue — everything you need to know about it is summed up in one sentence in Wired: “There was one group, however, which seemed content with the new rules: the nation’s cable and telecommunications companies, including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.“
“Ever since 1987 and the end of the Fairness Doctrine, which freed station owners from having to provide any balance on the air, conservatives have dominated talk radio. To the point where today, according to a 2007 report of the Center for American Progress, there are at least 10 hours of right-wing talk for every one hour of progressive talk. And that’s a real problem. Not simply because this torrent of hate is unpleasant for most people to listen to. But because it also debases the level of political discourse in this country, at a time when we need it the most.“
Personal plug: Bill Press’ Toxic Talk: How the Radical Right Has Poisoned America’s Airwaves, which I worked on in a research and editing capacity last year, is hitting bookstores today. (As longtime readers may remember, this is our fifth book together, along with Spin This (2001), Bush Must Go (2004), How the Republicans Stole Christmas (2005), and Trainwreck (2008).) In any case, I suspect regular readers here — all ten of you! — should be sympathetic to its central thesis: Right-wing talk radio is bad for our politics and for our country. (And hat-tip to Media Matters, a key resource for this book, for watchdogging these blustery carnival barkers on a full-time basis.)
While the Big ISPs begin to mount their counter-offensive, the usual blatherers on the Right are, naturally, decrying the decision as Phase 2 in the administration’s socialist-cryptofascist takeover to take over all things good and wonderful. Suffice to say, they don’t seem to understand the issue or the Internet very well. (Also, this is really a side matter, but, regarding the highly goofy “Big Guvmint is taking over the Internet!” meme: This is completely and utterly not true in any way. But, just so we all have the history straight: Big Guvmint created the Internet. If you haven’t heard of DARPA or J.C. Licklider, think Al Gore.)
“I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.” Via my sis-in-law Lotta, GOP Senator Ted “Bridge to Nowhere” Stevens (R-AK) seems more than slightly confused about the functioning of the Internets, to use Dubya’s parlance.
John McCain, to many the face of campaign finance reform in Washington, struggles to avoid the appearance of impropriety regarding recent donations by Cablevision to the Reform Institute, an independent group with ambiguous ties to the Senator. After his awful performance prostrating himself before Dubya in 2004, I’ve run sour on the mythical maverick — to paraphrase Progressive era Senator George Norris (R-NB) speaking of his colleague William Borah (R-ID), McCain “shoots until he sees the whites of their eyes.” But, still, he’s campaign finance reform’s biggest blue chip, and he should know better than to endanger the cause with this type of shadiness…particularly with anti-reform forces gunning for him. What would be plausible deniability for anyone else seems rather implausible coming from McCain, given his place at the head of the movement.
By way of Uncorked/Medley, a Federal Election Commissioner warns that political blogging may have to be regulated under the McCain-Feingold bill. Hmm. Well, obviously that wouldn’t work. But, I get the sense that Bradley Smith, a GOP anti-campaign-finance ringer, knows this, and is raising the black flag of Internet Regulation just to get the blogosphere up in arms over McCain-Feingold in particular and campaign finance regulation in general. Well, I’m not biting. Sure, the FEC needs a new direction when it comes to addressing the Internet, but I highly doubt Agent Smith here is the guy to provide it. Better someone who at least recognizes the utility of and need for comprehensive campaign finance reform.
In something of a surprise move (at least in regards to timing), Michael Powell announces his resignation as FCC Chairman. From the media ownership fiasco to Powell’s knee-jerk overreliance on deregulation as a general fix-all, Powell’s brief tenure probably isn’t going to go down as much other than an experiment gone awry, and further testament to the fact that deregulating markets doesn’t necessarily lead to increased competition — in fact, sometimes quite the opposite. Update: Stephen Labaton previews the post-Powell FCC.
Just skip over this entry if you don’t feel like reading a long-winded customer complaint. Still here? Ok, Verizon Wireless is seriously annoying me. I don’t use my phone for very much — I’m not a chatter by any means, and my telephone conversation skills are legendarily lousy (Ask any of my exes.) Nevertheless, I’ve been using a Palm-Phone hybrid for many years now, and have thus forever lost the ability to memorize nine-digit numbers. So, given that my well-worn Kyocera QCP6035 is on its very last legs these days — I drop calls constantly and my friends and family often sound like they’re underwater — all I want to do is replace it with a spiffy new Treo 650, available on Sprint since November. But Verizon will have nothing doing. They keep trying to ply me with a Treo 600 — the outdated model with cruddy resolution and low battery life — which Verizon obtained a good year after its competitors.
Really, y’all, why wouldn’t you rush to offer your customers the newest phones and assorted gadgets available? (Verizon says its due to their rigorous testing procedures, but most people seem to think it’s because they want to disable the Treo’s Bluetooth functionality, so as to hawk further their lame Get it Now service.) Hmmm…what to do? I’m thinking of switching providers, but Verizon (nee Bell Atlantic/NYNEX) kinda owns this town. Or I might try out this widely-circulated 650 hack, if I thought my soldering skills were up to snuff. We’ll see…I can probably put up with another month or so of terrible phone reception, but after that I’m resorting to drastic measures. Verizon really needs to get on the ball with the new technology. (I’m not the only ticked one, as evidenced by this petition.)
After pressure from Democratic commissioners and congressmen, Michael Powell’s FCC announces an investigation into Armstrong-gate. Well, what do you know? I guess they’re just killing time until someone makes the mistake of showing more scantily-clad (non-cheerleader) women at an NFL football game.
“In recent weeks, federal agencies across the vast Washington bureaucracy have delayed completion of a range of proposed regulations from food safety and the environment to corporate governance and telecommunications policy until after Election Day, when regulatory action may be more politically palatable.” Apparently, the Bushies have prepared an onslaught of awful legislation that they’re hiding from us until November 3. While this tends to happen every to some extent every election year, notes Consumers Union director Gene Kimmelman, “‘[w]hat is unusual this time…is the clear pattern of holding back regulatory decisions that will benefit the largest industry players and will drive up prices and market place risks for consumers, ranging from telephones to drugs to the risks of contaminants of food. The pattern of slow rolling will ultimately benefit the largest players and hit consumers in the pocketbook.’” Oh, swell.
“This is a fight about freedom–the freedom of independent entrepreneurs to start and run a media business, and the freedom of citizens to get news, information, and entertainment from a wide variety of sources, at least some of which are truly independent and not run by people facing the pressure of quarterly earnings reports. No one should underestimate the danger.” Fed up to the gills, Ted Turner takes on Big Media in the Washington Monthly.
For apparently no reason, my cable Internet access has returned, a day before the second Time Warner technician visit. A temporary reprieve? Let’s hope not…At any rate, if it gets quiet around here again in the next few days, you’ll know why. In the meantime, I’m feeling way behind on the news.
Well, between Tenet’s resignation and Reagan’s end, my cable modem picked an eventful few days to give up on me. More to come next week, after the Time Warner technicians have ascertained and corrected the problem.
By a 55-to-40 vote, the Senate overturns Powell’s media ownership rules. Even if the Senate vote goes nowhere (and between the contentious House and a Dubya veto, that’s pretty likely), this should hopefully awaken Michael Powell to the fact that there is significant bipartisan resistance to his agenda of carte blanche deregulation. Instead of freeing the Big Boys from any entangling agreements, perhaps Powell should work on making them honor the agreements they’ve already made – namely, HDTV roll-out and public interest requirements. This isn’t about big government, it’s about getting our money’s worth. Since we’ve given the networks use of bandwidth valued at $70 billion, we have every right to expect something in return.
Dubya ventures to the Midwest to hype the jobless recovery in Kansas City, site of 10,000 recent telecom layoffs. Perhaps he’d do better to sell his tax writeoff plan for the wealthy to a swing state it’s actually helped…that is, if he can find one. (In almost completely unrelated news, Doglover Dubya, via High Industrial.)
On a party line vote, the FCC eases ownership rules, paving the way for another wave of media consolidation over the nation’s airwaves. With Chairman Michael Powell now playing kingmaker for the likes of Rupert Murdoch, the Commission has come a long way from low power FM in two short years.
The networks stay mum on media consolidation as the Powell FCC prepares to lift cross-ownership caps in local and regional markets. Not surprisingly, it looks like the FCC vote will be party-line, with the three Republicans voting as a bloc to facilitate Rupert Murdoch’s ambitions and enlist free-market ideology in order to kill free-thinking media outlets. We’ll always have the web, I guess.
Radio conglomerate Clear Channel’s role in promoting the war, as noted earlier here, has raised new concerns in Washington about consolidation of the airwaves. Closer to home, the Voice isn’t very happy about the company’s major push into NYC.
Trouble at the Commish – Much to the chagrin of FCC Chairman Michael Powell, former Bush official and relatively new Commissioner Kevin Martin plays dealmaker in what amounts to a chaotic compromise on deregulation of the Baby Bells.
Feeling the bite of AOL-TW’s 70% drop, Ted Turner sets his sights on ousting Steve Case as Chairman.
FCC Chairman Powell prepares to gut the limits on broadcast ownership, meaning everything will soon be brought to you by AOL-TW, Viacom, and Rupert Murdoch. Bad call…reinstituting monopolies isn’t going to solve the crisis in telecom.
John Judis blames Michael Powell’s deregulatory fixation for telecom’s collapse. “Powell has proven a disaster…Like Harvey Pitt, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Powell would be ripe for replacement–if his feckless, ideological approach didn’t so perfectly reflect the president he serves.” To be fair, telecom was starting to look a bit peaked before Powell was Chairman (although that’s also partly because Powell was something of an obstructionist on the commission before his ascent.) And, while I’m sure it’s risen lately, demand for broadband services was egregiously low back in 2000. Like campaign finance reform, it’s one of those things you’d expect people to be all over, but for some reason it just isn’t reflected in the numbers. Without a true “killer app” for broadband (Napster/Kazaa comes close, but it’s not it), low demand will continue to be one of the reasons why the big boys aren’t building out. That all being said, I agree with the fundamentals of Judis’s piece.
In the wake of WorldCom, industry experts doubt FCC Chairman Michael Powell’s ability and desire to put the brakes on the telecom meltdown.
Joining Enron and Martha Stewart in infamy, Worldcom cooks the books for $3.8 billion. It’s not like either the telecom industry or the economy at large need another hit right now, and this one’s going to be a doozy. Good news for the Dems, at least, but I wonder what this’ll mean for UUNet. Update: Bush vows a probe into the situation. Hey, let’s not forget about Enron there, bud.