Court lifts stay on media ownership rules--consolidation can go ahead

John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated its stay of the media ownership rules and set a briefing schedule beginning May 17.

Back in December, the court gave the FCC and backers of its position three weeks to explain why it should not lift the years-long stay on the commission's media ownership rule rewrite and start hearing the legal challenges.

The court has now decided to proceed with the case despite FCC requests that it allow the commission to review the rules first.

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Protecting Internet freedom will close the digital divide. Period. End of story.

Garlin Gilchrist II, Save the Internet

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski took questions via YouTube about the recently-released National Broadband Plan (NBP). One question posed to the chairman was about whether the plan would close the digital divide and be beneficial to low-income communities and people of color anxious to get online.

Chairman Genachowski’s response (video) was absolutely right that this plan, along with the FCC's other efforts to promote universal broadband Internet access and protect Internet freedom, will benefit everyone, especially those excluded from today's market.

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Community groups applaud broadband plan, but stress that there's a ways to go for closing the digital divide

Media Action Grassroots Network

Across the country, more than 100 organizations of the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) applaud the Federal Communications Commission for the release of a national Broadband Plan they say takes first steps in closing a digital divide that has widened the economic and education gap between those who have and those who don’t. "The goal of extending universal access to broadband is an excellent future forward goal," said Rinku Sen of the Applied Research Center. "But any policy intended to drive broadband adoption in communities of color and migrant communities must produce a clear roadmap to ensure that the speed and access goals recommended are a floor, not a ceiling--and that people don’t become digital haves and have nots based on their zip code or their race."

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Inslee: Broadband plan moves US towards fast lane of the information superhighway

Reclaim the Media

This afternoon, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, released the following statement on today's release of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) 2020 Broadband Vision document:

The FCC's broadband proposal outlines a comprehensive approach to advancing the technology and innovation that are integral to our economic future. No place is this more evident than in my home state of Washington, where 40% of the jobs are in technology based industries that rely on broadband, and that number continues to grow.

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What will the world look like with gigablt broadband?

Chris O'Brien, San Jose Mercury News

Tucked in the Federal Communications Commission's national broadband plan is an ambitious goal: Connect 100 million households to affordable 100-megabits-per-second service over the next decade.

That's blazing fast compared with what most people have today. While Comcast plans to roll out 100MB service in the Bay Area later this year, its top speed to residential customers today is 50MB. And across the country, the average Internet connection speed — at least for those with broadband connections — is around 5MB.

So what exactly would we do with Internet connections so fast? According to broadband experts I consulted Monday, the answer is not clear, but the potential is revolutionary, as transformative as the changes spawned by the move from dial-up to current broadband speeds.

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Google fiber and the FCC National Broadband Plan

Mike Loukides, O'Reilly Radar

I've puzzled over Google's Fiber project ever since they announced it. It seemed too big, too hubristic (even for a company that's already big and has earned the right to hubris)--and also not a business Google would want to be in. Providing the "last mile" of Internet service is a high cost/low payoff business that I'm glad I escaped (a friend and I seriously considered starting an ISP back in '92, until we said "How would we deal with customers?").

But the FCC's announcement of their plans to widen broadband Internet access in the US (the "National Broadband Strategy") puts Google Fiber in a new context. The FCC's plans are cast in terms of upgrading and expanding the network infrastructure. That's a familiar debate, and Google is a familiar participant. This is really just an extension of the "network neutrality" debate that has been going on with fits and starts over the past few years.

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Effort to widen US Internet access sets up battle

Brian Stelter and Jenna Wortham, New York Times

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing an ambitious 10-year plan that will reimagine the nation’s media and technology priorities by establishing high-speed Internet as the country’s dominant communication network.

The plan, which will be submitted to Congress on Tuesday, is likely to generate debate in Washington and a lobbying battle among the telecommunication giants, which over time may face new competition for customers. Already, the broadcast television industry is resisting a proposal to give back spectrum the government wants to use for future mobile service.

The blueprint reflects the government’s view that broadband Internet is becoming the common medium of the United States, gradually displacing the telephone and broadcast television industries. It also signals a shift at the F.C.C., which under the administration of President George W. Bush gained more attention for policing indecency on the television airwaves than for promoting Internet access.

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Summary of National Broadband Strategy


Federal Communications Commission draft summary of its "National Broadband Plan," scheduled for delivery to Congress this week:


Broadband is the great infrastructure challenge of the early 21st century.

Like electricity a century ago, broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life. It is enabling entire new industries and unlocking vast new possibilities for existing ones. It is changing how we educate children, deliver health care, manage energy, ensure public safety, engage government, and access, organize and disseminate knowledge.

Fueled primarily by private sector investment and innovation, the American broadband ecosystem has evolved rapidly. The number of Americans who subscribe to broadband has grown from eight million in 2000 to nearly 200 million last year. Increasingly capable fixed and mobile networks allow Americans to access a growing number of valuable applications through innovative devices.

But broadband in America is not all it needs to be. Approximately 100 million Americans do not have broadband at home. Broadband-enabled health information technology (IT) can improve care and lower costs by hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming decades, yet the United States is behind many advanced countries in the adoption of such technology. Broadband can provide teachers with tools that allow students to learn the same course material in half the time, but there is a dearth of easily accessible digital educational content required for such opportunities. A broadband-enabled Smart Grid could increase energy independence and efficiency, but much of the data required to capture these benefits are inaccessible to consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs. And nearly a decade after 9/11, our first responders still lack a nationwide public safety mobile broadband communications network, even though such a network could improve emergency response and homeland security.

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Board fires Radio KDNA director after controversial tenure

Melissa Sanchez, Yakima Herald-Republic

After more than a year of internal conflict and public protests, the controversial figure at the helm of Granger's beloved Spanish-language radio station has been fired.

Radio KDNA's governing board dismissed executive director Maria Fernandez in a meeting Thursday. An interim replacement, immigration attorney Laura Contreras, begins today.

"It's just a culmination of things that said we probably need to be in a different place, going in a different direction," said Len Black, a member of the Northwest Communities Education Center governing board. "And it's a good opportunity for Maria to begin pursuing other opportunities."

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The Open Internet debate: Redlining 2.0

Jamilah King, RaceWire

If you’re anything like me, the words “net neutrality” and “open Internet” don’t exactly get the party going on your computer screen at lunch. At a convening of ethnic journalists yesterday in San Francisco, media justice activist Malkia Cyril compared the discussions around net neutrality to “talking about the galaxy: Who cares?” Sure, it’s important stuff. And yeah, we know it’s out there. But aside from policy wonks and gadget geeks, who really pays attention?

If you’re not, you should probably start. Soon. The FCC is set to release its long-awaited National Broadband Plan on March 17, which could help more than 93 million people get online. But the question isn’t just who’s connected to the Internet, but how, and why telecom companies are making poor communities choose between fair representation and access.

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