Communications Rights

Hispanic groups take sides in net neutrality debate

Erick Galindo, Hispanic Link News Service

High-stakes political maneuvering is dragging Hispanic advocacy groups here deeper into battle over the future of the Internet.

As the Federal Communications Commission moves ahead with plans to create a set of rules designed to block online monopolies from forming, supportive consumer protection organizations are pressing ethnic advocacy and civil rights groups, including the Urban League, One Economy and National Council of La Raza, to speak out in support of network neutrality.

Some, such as the NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership, are following the lead of telecommunication giants Verizon, AT&T and Comcast. Others are avoiding taking a position opposing the trio. Still others, including the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and non-white media groups, are lining up with consumer protection groups and Web giant Google.

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Ecuador to grant radio frequencies to indigenous nations

Ingrid Bachmann, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas

Ecuador's 14 indigenous nationalities will be able to present proposals that will help them get low-frequency radio permits for at least one citizen-based, "community radio" station in each nation, El Telégrafo newspaper reports. Guidelines should be available in two weeks.

The government-published "official" newspaper, El Ciudadano (The Citizen), says the measure is part of the Correa administration's strategy to democratize access to media and to ensure balance in the radio spectrum.

The president of Ecuarunari, the largest indigenous organization in Ecuador's Andes, says he hoped the new radio move does not form part of a political campaign to diffuse everything about the ideology of the ruling party, the AP adds.

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A Look at the future of TV: Comcast takeover of NBC under review

Democracy Now!

Sen. Byron Dorgan’s decision to retire from the Senate stunned many in Washington. Dorgan has been a leading opponent of media consolidation and US trade policy. We speak with the Center for Digital Democracy’s Jeff Chester about Dorgan’s retirement, as well as what the future holds for the digital media landscape with Comcast’s deal to acquire a controlling interest in NBC Universal under review, and the dispute resolved between Time Warner Cable and News Corp.

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Net neutrality, "TV Everywhere," and other cable industy assaults on open television

Marvin Ammori, Huffington Post

Yesterday, the largest cable company in the nation, Comcast, launched a product called Fancast Xfinity. Xfinity is the brand name of Comcast’s product, but the rest of the cable industry is planning to roll out something similar. They’re part of a cable-industry-wide initiative known in the industry as “TV Everywhere.” The point of this initiative is actually to kill online TV and make sure people keep paying their cable subscriptions.

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Church organizations praise House decision to expand low-power radio

United Church of Christ Office of Communication, Inc.

The United Church of Christ's media-justice advocacy arm and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) are celebrating a significant victory in one of its most important and longest standing legislative efforts in the area of media reform. On Wednesday evening, legislation that will expand low-power radio to 140 million people who are currently unable to receive it has been passed on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, poising the legislation for final approval in the Senate.

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We must not let big telecom segregate the Internet

Malkia Cyril, Chris Rabb, Joseph Torres, ColorLines

Even though President Obama pledged he would “take a back seat to no one” on Net Neutrality, the big phone and cable companies are pulling out all the stops to derail it, including deploying Karl Rove-style scare tactics within our communities and using their massive resources to block Obama’s agenda. In the first nine months of 2009, they employed nearly 500 lobbyists and spent some $74 million to influence Congress and the FCC. Their misinformation has even convinced Glenn Beck that Net Neutrality is an attempt by Obama to take over the Internet. Who will protect the online rights of marginalized communities against the raw profit motive of big business? We urge leaders in our community not to yield to the underhanded scare tactics that corporations like AT&T have used on our communities.

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Amy Goodman and Canada's Olympic paranoia

Dave Zirin, Huffington Post

When it comes to independent, agitational journalism, the standard is Amy Goodman and her radio/television institution, Democracy Now! Goodman and her staff often finds themselves accosted by officials, foreign and domestic. This happened again on Thursday. But it didn't happen in East Timor or Burma. Goodman was detained by our neighbors to the north.

Canadian border officials held Goodman in Vancouver for 90 minutes when she attempted to enter Vancouver to attend events launching her new book, Breaking the Sound Barrier. But the Canadian Border team didn't care what she was there to do. They wanted to know what she was going to say. They demanded to see her computer and notebook. They searched her car. They returned her passport with papers demanding she leave the country within 48 hours.

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Obama tech deputy: Free speech is net-neutrality foreign policy

Cecilia Kang, Washington Post

When President Obama told university students in Shanghai last week that he’s a “big supporter of non-censorship,” it took 27 minutes for one major Chinese portal to delete that part of his speech. After two-and-a-half hours, almost all portals in the nation took out the comments from news coverage.

Despite what appeared to be the Chinese government’s clampdown on the controversial issue of online censorship, an explosive exchange about Obama’s support for “open Internet use” surfaced on blogs and on Twitter.

“That is the optimistic part of the story,” said Andrew McLaughlin, the nation’s deputy technology officer, recounting the event.

In a telecom law conference last Thursday by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln law school, McLaughlin and Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia University, talked about how an open Internet, or so-called net neutrality, underlies free speech on the Web. Without it, censorship can occur.

“If it bothers you that the China government does it, it should bother you when your cable company does it,” McLaughlin said.

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Net neutrality is a must

Joshua Breitbart, Haitian Times

For many of us, the diversity and abundance of information on the Internet has become part of our daily lives. We assume that we will always be able to view the websites of our choosing and even upload our own photos and videos onto the Internet. However, as teachers of radio journalism, we can't take net neutrality – the principle that prohibits discrimination of content and applications on the Internet – for granted. Our organization, People's Production House, includes lessons on net neutrality as part of our year-long courses in public schools because without it, our students could soon be making entertaining and informative radio pieces without the ability to share them online.

With last week's introduction of Resolution 712, the New York City Council has taken up this important issue. While we don't hear much about it in the news, the current debate over net neutrality will determine the future of how we communicate. Two companies alone – Verizon and AT&T – have spent over $20 million on federal lobbying this year trying to thwart The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009, a bill in Congress that would enshrine net neutrality in law. Resolution 712, if the Council passes it, would endorse this bill.

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TechSoup wants to stretch broadband dollars

Kim Hart, The Hill

Marnie Webb flew to Washington from San Francisco to spend this past week to try to make connections in the broadband community.

As co-CEO of TechSoup, a non-profit that helps other organizations use technology more effectively, she's interested in helping the Commerce Department make broadband stimulus grants go farther. And she is interested in partnering with other groups, like the Sunlight Foundation, in goals of getting underserved populations into the civil discourse happening online. She also wants to share broadband adoption techniques she's learned with the the Federal Communications Commission for its national broadband plan.

But Webb admits she is naive to the ways of Washington. As she meets with non-governmental organizations and agency officials, she has to stress that she is not looking for financial help. TechSoup did not apply for any money in the first round of stimulus grants. She's thought of talking to the staff of her district's representative, who happens to be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but she knows she'll have a hard time getting an audience.

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