Communications Rights

UW student paper refuses to apologize for anti-gay column, offensive image

Nick Perry, Seattle Times

A column that ran in the University of Washington's student newspaper decrying gay marriage — and illustrated with the image of a man standing next to a sheep — has hundreds of students up in arms. But editors of The Daily are standing behind what they say is free speech.

Organizers of the campus group "Students for a Hate Free Daily" say they expect about 300 people to show up for a campus rally today after more than 1,000 signed up with the group online. The Graduate and Professional Student Senate, meanwhile, passed a resolution this week demanding the paper apologize.

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FCC considers free Internet plan

Jennifer Bosavage, ChannelWeb

The Federal Communications Commission at a Dec. 18 meeting will debate a plan that, if approved, would result in free Internet access.

Free Internet access continues to be a hot topic as the cell phone industry vociferously opposes it, while the Republican leadership of the FCC entertains proposals in favor of it. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is a champion of the plan, which involves auctioning off 25MHz of the little-used Advanced Wireless Services band and offering at least 25 percent for a free nationwide broadband network. Under the plan, the winning bidder would have to offer free airwaves to at least 95 percent of the U.S. population.

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New Commerce chair bodes well for privacy, net net neutrality issues

Wendy Davis, MediaPost

Digital rights advocates are cheering the news that Henry Waxman (D. Calif.) will replace John Dingell (D. Mich.) as chair of the House Energy and Commerce committee. Advocates think Waxman's appointment could result in new protections for net neutrality and online privacy. For one thing, Waxman has a reputation as a leading consumer advocate, unafraid to take on big business. Also, at least according to today's Wall Street Journal, Washington observers are predicting that Waxman will delegate many telecom matters to Rep. Ed Markey (D. Mass.), who has long been a staunch supporter of both net neutrality and online privacy rights.

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Canadian regulators denies Internet 'traffic shaping' complaint

Matt Hartley and Simon Avery, Globe and Mail

Canada's telecom regulator has denied a complaint brought forth by a consortium of independent Internet service companies over how Bell Canada manages or “shapes” Web traffic on the network space which it leases to third-party providers.

But the regulator is planning public proceedings to examine the traffic management techniques of Canadian telecom companies.

Although the complaint, which was brought forth by the Canadian Association of Independent Providers was denied, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said that Bell will now be required to notify third party companies at least 30 days before making changes to the performance of the network space it leases to them.

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NYPD sued over denial of press credentials

Sewell Chan, City Room/New York Times

In the ever-shifting media landscape of 2008, who, exactly, is a journalist?

That question is at the heart of a lawsuit filed against the Police Department on Wednesday on behalf of three men — Rafael Martínez Alequin, Ralph E. Smith and David Wallis — who say that they were unfairly denied press passes because they work for online or nontraditional news outlets.

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NAB: the lobby that cried wolf

Michael Calabrese, New America Foundation

Over the past week, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has bombarded Congress with a flurry of doomsday pronouncements, claiming broadcast television is under attack by the FCC and advocates seeking to open unused TV channels (TV white spaces) for wireless broadband and mobile Wi-Fi devices.

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Obama, McCain campaigns to debate tech policy

Nicholas Thompson, Wired

Update (see below): The tech debate will take place, between Reed Hundt (Obama supporter) and Douglas Holtz-Eakin (McCain camp). Details TBA.

Last week, after publishing the Wired Technology Policy Scorecard, I contacted the two campaigns and told them that I'd like to organize a debate over these issues. Let's get top surrogates together to discuss broadband policy, H1B Visas, and so on. The Obama camp said great. Reed Hundt, former FCC chair, was available and willing. The McCain camp also said great. But then we tried to figure out who to do it. The challenge was to find someone of equal stature to Hundt, which isn't easy given that the tech community as a whole massively favors Obama.

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Report hints DTV may lose terrestrial viewers

RF Design

A recent report for ABI Research that surveyed US terrestrial television views revealed that as many as 20 percent of viewers may simply abandon their analog television sets when broadcasting is switched over to digital in February.

Although many receive their content via cable or satellite services, a significant amount, about 15 percent, still use rooftop antennas to receiver television broadcasts in the US.

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White spaces supporters bend FCC's ear

Matt Kapko,

Last week, opponents of the FCC's plan to auction off white-space spectrum ramped up their lobbying effort. This week, proponents of the plan got their turn. Google ( NSDQ: GOOG), Microsoft ( NSDQ: MSFT) and Motorola?all heavy-hitting supporters of the measure?have begun weighing in with phone calls to FCC Chair Kevin Martin, who backs the plan. There's still plenty of debate over the airwaves that sit adjacent to TV broadcast signals and T-Mobile's 3G network: Some broadcasters say it will interfere with their networks, while other people (including FCC engineers) say technology can maintain each network's integrity.

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Vancouver celebrates Media Democracy Day 2008

Tom Barrett, The Tyee

Saturday is Media Democracy Day, a big day for people who think Big Media should be a Big Issue.

"Media and communication are just really important issues and it's good to have a day to just focus on them," said Steve Anderson, national coordinator of the Campaign For Democratic Media and the general coordinator of Media Democracy Day.

The eighth annual Media Democracy Day will draw together people interested in social media, open source software, Net neutrality, copyright reform and fighting big media, Anderson said.

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