Communications Rights

Time for Beck's bad-asses to back off of Mark Lloyd

Art Brodsky, Huffington Post

We interrupt our normal discussions of broadband policy, mapping, copyright law, intellectual property and our other topics of interest for a special public service announcement.

"Are you Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, one of the Facebookers who joined the Demand the TERMINATION of Communist Czars in our White House: Mark Lloyd campaign. Are you one of the #firemarklloyd Twitter brigade? If so, this message is for you. Your attacks on Mark Lloyd are groundless, i.e. at variance with actual facts. They are stupid. They are embarrassing. Knock it off. Thank you." We understand the language may be a bit crude and direct, but in order to communicate properly, one must use the language the targets of the message understand and are familiar with.

Think of any number of cowboy movies (The Magnificent Seven) or even motorcycle gang movies, (The Wild One with Marlon Brando but without Brando's attempt at redemption) in which the ignorant, low-rent, know-nothing thugs bad guys ride into town and randomly wreak havoc on a generally peaceful populace for no good reason other than that they can. That's what's happening here.

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Van Jones resigns

Think Progress

The AP reports that after weeks of constant attacks by the right wing, Van Jones has resigned as Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the Council on Environmental Quality. Below is the letter he sent to chair Nancy Sutley:

I am resigning my post at the Council on Environmental Quality, effective today.

On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.

I have been inundated with calls - from across the political spectrum - urging me to “stay and fight.”

But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future.

It has been a great honor to serve my country and my President in this capacity. I thank everyone who has offered support and encouragement. I am proud to have been able to make a contribution to the clean energy future. I will continue to do so, in the months and years ahead.

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Argentine president sends media reform to Congress

Helem Popper, Reuters

Argentina's president sent a media reform bill to Congress on Thursday, saying it would strengthen democracy by reducing the control of a handful of companies that dominate broadcasting.

Many people in the industry agree with the need to overhaul broadcasting regulations drawn up during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, to reflect huge technological changes, but the government proposal has sparked controversy.

President Cristina Fernandez, who has fallen out with the country's biggest media group Grupo Clarin (CLA.BA) and often criticizes news media, said the new broadcast law would challenge private companies' domination of the airwaves.

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The Digital divide doesn't exist

Brett Meyer, NTEN

The digital divide doesn't exist.

It's the definite article that causes problems, implying there's an easy way to think about the issues surrounding the inequitable access to technology -- and perhaps an easy solution. We can just bridge the gap, right? But anybody who's seen Cloverfield or I Am Legend knows what happens when a mass of people tries to cross a bridge to escape a bad situation: a bottleneck forms, infighting destroys group solidarity, and then something unforeseen destroys the bridge. (Or, less monster-centric, we may simply lack the requisite know-how to build a bridge that works.)

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iPhone center stage as FCC looks at wireless Internet

Richard Koman, ZNet

Look for major action from the FCC against Apple/AT&T on the iPhone, as well as other exclusive wireless deals. USA Today reports that the FCC will discuss at its regular meeting Thursday a three-part probe:

  1. Wireless competition;
  2. Barriers to entry and investment
  3. consumer billing, including wireless contracts
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Media situation in Venezuela: facts and fiction

Caitlin McNulty and Liz Migliorelli, Upside Down World

When Hugo Chávez won the Venezuelan Presidential election in 1998, he immediately implemented one of his primary campaign platforms, the rewriting of the Venezuelan Constitution of 1961. This new constitution included a broader scope of social, economic, cultural, political and civil rights. A popular referendum was held to elect qualified citizens to make up a Constituent Assembly whose job was to draft the new constitution. This constitution was truly written for the people and by the people.

One of the articles in the constitution required the restructuring of the Venezuelan oil industry in order to provide a more equal distribution of resources and wealth to the Venezuelan people. For the economic and political groups who traditionally held power and who had benefited greatly from this oil profit, this shift in structure and fortune was not at all welcome.

Since then, this large block of private media (whose ownership belongs to the most powerful businessmen and corporations) has worked toward removing Chávez from power and slowing the revolutionary process.1 Since Chávez won the presidential election and the traditional political parties Acción Democratica and COPEI lost power, the news media has become the greatest weapon of the opposition in a war against the Chávez administration.

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Venezuela mulls law to 'muzzle' media

Nina Negron, AFP

A media committee in Venezuela's parliament is set to begin Tuesday studying a draft law that, if approved, could jail anyone publishing comments that authorities consider a threat to national interests.

The controversial text will be weighed just days after President Hugo Chavez's government revoked the licenses of 32 radio stations and two local television stations "to democratize the radio-electric spectrum."

The moves were slammed by critics of the firebrand leftist leader and others as a coordinated crackdown on media challenging the president's image and policies, and as signs that freedom of expression is being muzzled.

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Venezuelan government transfers private media concessions to community media

Kiraz Janicke, Venezuelanalysis.com

The head of Venezuela's telecommunications agency (CONATEL), and minister of housing and infrastructure, Diosdado Cabello, announced on Saturday the immediate closure of 32 privately owned radio stations and 2 regional television stations, as their broadcast licenses had expired or they had violated regulations. Cabello said the recuperated licenses would be handed over to community media.

The minister said many of the stations were operating illegally and had failed to register or pay fees to CONATEL. Decisions are still pending on a further 206 stations.

Nelson Belfort, the president of the Chamber of Radio Broadcasters and the Caracas-based Circuito Nacional Belfort, which owns five of the closed radio stations, described the move as a government "attack" that aims to limit freedom of expression. He said the CNB would appeal the decision.

However, Cabello explained that the measure is fully within the framework of the law and that the licenses are being revoked for violating regulations.

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Wishful mapping: Connected Nation takes North Carolina for a ride

Fiona Morgan, Independent Weekly

How many people in North Carolina have access to high-speed Internet service, and how many do not? That question must be answered if North Carolina is to receive any of the $7.2 billion in federal stimulus money for broadband deployment.

According to a map made available online last week by the industry-backed nonprofit Connected Nation, broadband is available to 92 percent of North Carolina households. That number seems too high to some legislators and public interest advocates, who are concerned that overstating the amount of access will hurt the state's chances of receiving federal grants.

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Bring Betty Broadband: churches, mosques say access is an economic justice issue

Nate Anderson, Ars Technica

Jesus said that the poor would always be with us—but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to bring them broadband. A coalition of Christian churches and the Islamic Society of North America has launched a new campaign to bring broadband to everyone in the US so that "our poorest communities, our rural areas, our public libraries, our public schools, and community centers" benefit from the communications revolution that the Internet hath wrought.

The Bring Betty Broadband campaign casts the broadband debate in moral terms. It's about the "right to disseminate and receive information," it's a "right that helps to define ourselves as human beings and political actors," and it's absolutely essential for everyone in a modern society.

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