Media pick up on activist clout in AT&T/Bell South merger concession

[via the SaveTheInternet Coalition]

The Coalition received remarkable press coverage in the New Year, as Congress returns to Washington and the business of writing better telecommunciations legislation. Most of the coverage labeled AT&T’s recent concession on Net Neutrality a significant win for the public interest. Others called upon a new Congress to act in 2007 to make Net Neutrality — as the New York Times puts it — “a basic rule of the road.”
Here’s a sampling coverage from the last 24 hours:
New York Times:

The cable and telephone companies have fought net neutrality with a lavishly financed and misleading lobbying campaign, because they stand to gain an enormous windfall. But there is growing support from individuals and groups across the political spectrum, from to the Gun Owners of America, who worry about what will happen to their free speech if Internet service providers are allowed to pick and choose the traffic they carry … On the information superhighway, net neutrality should be a basic rule of the road.

CNet News:

Although some FCC commissioners have asserted that the agreement is not a public policy mandate, it could serve as a blueprint for members of Congress preparing to reintroduce bills intended to bar network operators like AT&T from charging extra fees to content providers for added perks. “The agreement once and for all puts to rest the bogus argument that no one can define Net neutrality,” said Ben Scott, policy director for the advocacy group Free Press, which coordinates a pro-Net neutrality coalition called Save the Internet.

Ars Technica:, one of the most vocal groups lobbying for net neutrality, said that the decision “paves [the] path to Congress.” Ben Scott, another neutrality supporter who directs Free Press, likewise believes that this is only the first step to the Rose Garden. “The bottom line is whether this merger condition advances our cause in the marketplace and in Congress,” he said in the wake of the announcement. “In the market, this condition will have the effect of disciplining bad behavior—certainly for AT&T, and likely for the industry as a whole.”

National Journal:

Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, which coordinates the pro-network neutrality campaign, said the deal “once and for all puts to rest the bogus argument that no one can define net neutrality…The FCC just did it, and the sky hasn’t fallen.” The merger sets the bar for the entire industry, Scott said. “We are no longer having a debate about whether net neutrality should be the law of the land. We are having a debate about how and when,” he declared.

Inside Bay Area:

“If we lose network neutrality, we lose the most promising method for regular people to access and provide diverse independent news, information and entertainment,” said Robert McChesney, a University of Illinois telecommunications professor and co-founder of Free Press, a telecommunications lobbying organization. “We will see the Internet become like cable TV — a handful of massive companies will decide what you can see and how much it will cost.”

Tech Web News:

In the meantime, drew mentions during political campaigns, support from famous musicians, and content contributions from Internet users. It has gained nearly 1.4 million signatures in favor of network neutrality and distributed public messages through video, blogs, and e-mail. The group argues that if the government fails to regulate the Internet, Web content would go the way of television and radio, with a few companies controlling most of the user experience.

And this from WebProNews in late December:

“Because of Free Press,, and, an obscure, difficult to grasp concept won the support of 1.3 million petitioners, who made 50,000 phone calls to Congress, and spread the word to hundreds of thousands of others… What’s happened in the last year has been nothing short of amazing, and those heroics should be recognized.”

article originally published at

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey