Communications Rights

2009: who will control Canada’s digital soul?

Steve Anderson, Vue

What the open Internet does perhaps more than anything else is allow us to envision, and in fact, actually produce a more democratic media system. But the open Internet is under threat by the very companies that bring it into our homes and workplaces, Internet Service Providers (ISPs). These big telecommunication companies want to become the gatekeepers of the Internet, charging hefty fees to reach large audiences as they do with other mediums.

Big telecom companies are trying to do away with the governing guidelines of the Internet called Net Neutrality (or common carriage). Net neutrality requires that Internet service providers not discriminate—including speeding up or slowing down Web content—based on its source, ownership or destination. Net neutrality protects our ability to direct our own on-line activities, and also maintains a level playing field for online innovation and social change.

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Telecom sector grows 24% in Venezuela

Erik Sperling,

Venezuela’s telecommunications sector has grown 24 percent in recent years, according to the Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology, Socorro Hernandez.

Hernandez, who is also the president of the Venezuelan National Telephone Corporation, CANTV by its Spanish acronym, made the announcement during a televised press conference.

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Public interest groups name broadband principles for Obama stimulus package

[statement from 32 media and public interest groups (undersigned)]

President-Elect Barack Obama and Congressional leaders are calling for government support to fund universal broadband Internet access as part of a potential economic stimulus package. We applaud these discussions and strongly believe that providing every community in America with high-speed Internet access ­ particularly those who have long remained on the margins of public participation and debate ­ is essential to the economic and democratic future of the U.S.

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Tech firms rally against pro-union card-check legislation

Julian Sanchez, Ars Technica

The Employee Free Choice Act—better known as "card check" legislation—is at the top of organized labor's wish list for the next Congress. But as card check moves from pipe dream to political possibility, wary tech firms are starting to rally in opposition.

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Proposal for the creation of a rural broadband fund

Geoff Daily, AppRising

Over the last week I've been working with a first-rate team of experts in the field of rural fiber deployment on developing the concept of a Rural Fiber Fund that can be including as a part of the upcoming economic stimulus package.

This is the first fruit to be borne of our labors. We'll be working on crafting an in-depth policy paper over the holidays that will be released on January 5th.

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Seattle, other high-tech cities included in "at risk" list for DTV transition

Ian Lamont, Industry Standard

Seattle and San Francisco have been included in a list of seven urban centers with "at risk" communities for the February 2009 transition to digital television.

According to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund and the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, San Francisco/San Jose/Oakland and Seattle/Tacoma were included because they have relatively high numbers of residents who watch analog over-the-air television broadcasts and relatively low participation in the NTIA's TV Converter Box Coupon Program.

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An open letter to President-elect Obama

On Dec. 18, a long list of media activist groups, consumer advocates, labor unions and individuals sent the below letter to the Obama administration, outlining some of our shared expectations for media and communications policies that benefit the public, rather than business elites.

President-elect Obama:

We congratulate you for putting crucial media and technology issues in the public spotlight. Not only did your campaign embrace new technology and innovative media, you have embraced these values in your policy agenda. Your commitments and detailed plan represent a fundamental shift toward communications policy in the public interest. We happily offer our support and service in pursuit of our common goals.

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Happy birthday, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

(Universal Declaration of Human Rights video by Seth Brau)

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on Dec. 10, 1948. Article 19 states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Full text below...

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Campaign for journalists' rights in Mexico marks 60th anniversary of Human Rights declaration

Article 19

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ARTICLE 19 launches a campaign to protect those that are at the forefront of reporting human rights abuses and informing the public about the state of the world. Sixty years ago, Latin American countries constituted the largest bloc of the delegations responsible for drafting the first international text setting out freedoms, rights and entitlements for all humanity to claim. One such fundamental right is that to freedom of expression: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

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Obama asks broadcasters to help consumers prepare for DTV transition

Kim McAvoy, TV Newsday

The Obama crowd is not waiting for Inauguration Day to begin managing the FCC-regulated media.

At a meeting in Washington last Friday, Obama transition team officials demanded that broadcasters and cable operators establish or help fund call centers to handle the anticipated flood of complaints and questions in the wake of the analog cut-off on Feb. 17, 2009.

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