Legislation and Regulation

House votes to expand local community radio

Reclaim the Media

On Dec. 16, the House of Representatives passed the Local Community Radio Act (HR 1147) by voice vote. The bill would allow for the creation of hundreds, possibly thousands, of new, low power FM (LPFM) radio stations dedicated to broadcasting community news and local perspectives to neighborhoods across the country.

In the Senate, the companion bill has been approved by the Commerce Committee, championed by Senator Maria Cantwell. A full-Senate vote has not yet been scheduled, but is the next and final step for the expansion of LPFM to become law.

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Cable industry confused: it's our First Amendment, not theirs

Marvin Ammori, Save the Internet

The cable and phone industry keep making the offensive argument that the First Amendment belongs to them, not you--and that the First Amendment empowers them to stifle your online speech just so they can make more money.

This Wednesday, the cable industry's head lobbyist gave a speech claiming that Net Neutrality would violate the First Amendment. According to the NCTA’s Kyle McSlarrow, cable companies have free speech rights, while Americans (like you) don't have rights to access or upload content on the Internet.

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Bring the Internet to every home in America

Danny Bakewell, Sr., Portland Skanner

This summer, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski described universal broadband Internet access as this generation’s infrastructure challenge. He compared it to building our nation’s railroads and highways and electrical grid. The commission has been working since that time to create a National Broadband Plan, as mandated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Bringing broadband to all Americans will strengthen our economy and our communities. Deploying broadband creates new American jobs that revitalize our communities. A study by the Brookings Institution revealed that for every 1 percent increase in broadband penetration in a state the employment rate rises 0.2 to 0.3 percent per year. The broadband and communications sector created nearly half of all new American jobs in 2008.

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Yes We Can: It's Time to Expand Community Radio

Reclaim the Media

Low-power community radio has been unfairly constricted for eight years, mainly because big radio doesn't want competition from small-scale local, noncommercial stations - stations which broadcast local community voices and local music choices.

This is it! Both the House and Senate could vote on the Local Community Radio Act as soon as this week (as supporters work to get it onto a crowded legislative agenda). The bill will expand low-power FM community radio across the country, dramatically increasing the public's access to the airwaves.

That means that now--Today--is the time for you to express your support for community radio. Call your Representative's office and ask to speak to the staff person who covers telecom issues. The LPFM Action Page will tell you where they stand on the bill. Then call your Senators too! 

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Why the FCC should stop Comcast from buying NBC

David Coursey, PC World

Comcast's proposed $30 billion purchase of NBC Universal is a bad deal for consumers, as well as for net neutrality.

If approved, the purchase will create yet another instance where a company that delivers digital content will have a profit motive to discriminate against other content providers.

The FCC should stop this deal, partially because it furthers media consolidation into too few hands, but also because it flies against the prevailing wind of net neutrality, as envisioned by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. (What is "net neutrality?" Here's an explainer).

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FCC ready to scrutinize Comcast-GE consolidation deal

David Goetzl, MediaPost

Hours after Comcast and General Electric announced their intention to form a massive joint venture centered on content properties, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps issued a statement that was sharply skeptical of the deal.

"It will come as no news to them that they face a steep climb with me," he said as Comcast and GE pursue regulatory approval.

Copps said he continues to have concerns about "so few (media companies) controlling so much."


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Stupak bill would promote honest decisionmaking at the FCC

Gigi Sohn, Public Knowledge

It’s been nearly a year since Public Knowledge and the Silicon Flatirons Center held its FCC Reform conference, and the FCC has moved slowly but steadily towards addressing many of the concerns raised at the conference and the paper submitted beforehand.

One concern raised by a number of the conference participants was some of the unintended consequences of the Government in Sunshine Act. The Sunshine Act was intended to ensure that agency business is not done behind closed doors. This is certainly a noble goal, but by prohibiting more than 2 Commissioners (3 is a quorum for the 5 member FCC) to meet unless an open meeting is held and public notice is given, power has trickled down to unappointed and unconfirmed FCC staffers, who are under no such prohibition and who serve as secret brokers for their bosses. After staff finish their horse trading, the actual open meeting is like “Kabuki theatre” - Commissioners read from prepared statements, there is little or no debate and the outcome is predetermined.

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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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Comcast-NBCU merger is bad for democracy

Marvin Ammori, Ammori.org

For weeks, newspapers have reported in their business pages on a possible Comcast-NBC Universal merger (announced today), as a business story.  The merger is more than a routine business story.  The merger signifies massive media consolidation.  This consolidation gives one company—Comcast—enormous control over the speech shaping Americans’ lives and shaping our democracy. The merger puts Comcast in control of MSNBC (a 24 hour news channel with an enormous impact on public opinion), CNBC (which impacts public opinion about Wall Street, now a hotly debated political question), NBC network (whose nightly news show averages eight million viewers, many times that of cable shows like those on Fox News), and 27 television stations (which generally have programs covering local news).

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How the FCC might stop the Comcast-NBC merger

Ars Technica

Teeth are gnashing and swords are being drawn in response to the news that Comcast is poised to snarf down 51 percent of NBC Universal—the other 49 percent owned by General Electric. The deal would give Comcast, already the nation's biggest cable company and ISP, control over a huge swath of video content.

"This is the most important media merger since Lucy married Desi," declared Andrew Schwartzman of the Media Access Project. "The merger clearly threatens to transform video markets nationwide. Although the details of the deal have not yet been announced, I am strongly concerned about the market power enjoyed by a Comcast/NBC combination. No one entity should have control over such a large audience."

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