Copps: Why the FCC can't do its job on broadband access

Michael Copps, Washington Post

The Aug. 26 Washington Post editorial "An open, innovative Internet" wrongly stated that a court decided the Federal Communications Commission has no authority over Internet service providers. What the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said was that the section (Title I) of the communications statute cited by agency lawyers did not support the FCC ruling against Comcast's blocking of BitTorrent. This was a predictable outcome of FCC actions during the Bush administration that consciously moved broadband Internet access from Title II, which would have supported the commission's authority, to a murky place that invited court challenge.

This was a major flip-flop from the historic -- and successful -- approach of forbidding discrimination on our communications networks. Now is the time to put broadband back under Title II, where it belongs -- and under which many smaller companies continue to offer Internet access to the public.

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OK Go on net neutrality: A lesson from the music industry

Damien Kulash, Washington Post

On the Internet, when I send my ones and zeros somewhere, they shouldn't have to wait in line behind the ones and zeros of wealthier people or corporations. That's the way the Net was designed, and it's central to a concept called "net neutrality," which ensures that Internet service providers can't pick favorites.

Recently, though, big telecommunications companies have argued that their investment in the Net's infrastructure should allow them more control over how it's used. The concerned nerds of the world are up in arms, and there's been a long, loud public debate, during which the Federal Communications Commission appeared to develop a plan to preserve net neutrality.

The FCC's latest action on the question came partly in response to a federal appeals court ruling in April that appeared to limit the agency's authority over Internet service providers. In May, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski issued a plan to classify the Internet under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. In English, that means the agency would be legally recognizing a fact so obvious that I feel silly even typing it: We use the Internet to communicate. With that radical notion established, the FCC would have jurisdiction to protect the public interest on the Net, including enforcing neutrality. Since announcing its intent, though, the FCC hasn't followed through, and the corporations involved are trying to take the reins before the public servants do.

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Another mag leaves the shelves - Heeb Magazine goes web-only

Eric Kohn, Wall Street Journal

This morning, “Heeb” publisher and editor-in-chief Josh Neuman announced on the magazine’s website that the snarky Jewish publication has ceased production of its print edition. This should come as no surprise to anyone following the slow demise of print media around the world, but longtime Heeb readers will still take note of the shift as a bittersweet moment. Since 2001, the magazine has constantly challenged modern notions of American Jewry with a savage wit and an appetite for controversy, which it satisfied in nearly issue. As a cultural statement, Heeb managed to be both profound and profoundly lowbrow — “Mad” magazine with more circumcision jokes.

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FCC appeals court ruling on indecency authority

Gautham Nagesh, The Hill

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is appealing a federal court ruling that its indecency policy is unconstitutional, arguing the decision makes it all but impossible for the agency to enforce restrictions on broadcasting nudity or profanity.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York struck down the FCC's indecency policy last month, calling it a violation of the First Amendment. The court said the rule forces broadcasters to self-censor in order to avoid fines for accidentally broadcasting nudity or profanity.

The FCC filed a petition Thursday morning asking the court to reconsider the decision.

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Glenn Beck’s MLK dream is perverse, but what’s our vision?

Kai Wright, ColorLines

Glenn Beck says it’s “divine providence” that his “Restoring Honor” rally coincides with the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Maybe so. It’s been a little over a year since the beer summit eclipsed the debate over whether health care is a fundamental right, and these past 12 months have brought a steady parade of similar perversions. Beck parodying King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial seems an apt finale.

Beck has spent the past several months needling today’s civil rights leaders with the charge that they screwed up King’s dream. He’s asserted that groups like the NAACP and, most menacingly, ACORN lost their way when they veered into the murky waters of “economic justice” and “social justice.” King’s vision, he has lectured, was about equal rights—about discarding racial markers of any kind so every individual can compete in the true American tradition.

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What does News Corp want in return for that $ million?

John Cook, The Upshot

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. raised eyebrows last week with a $1 million donation to the Republican Governors Association that the New York Times described as "bold" and "one of the biggest [contributions] ever given by a media organization." Critics saw the gift, which came through News Corp.'s News America subsidiary, as evidence of an alignment between Murdoch's political and corporate interests and the conservative editorial bent of Fox News Channel.

But corporate political donations — especially coming from someone as skillful at currying favor among the powerful as Murdoch — are more than mere expressions of ideological preference. They are attempts to advance the economic interests of the donor corporation. As News Corp. spokesman Jack Horner explained to the Times, the company made the donation because "organizations like the R.G.A., which have a pro-business agenda, support our priorities at this most critical time for our economy."

So what, precisely, are those priorities?

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Latino groups demand FCC, Obama and Congress protect Internet freedom

Latinos for Internet Freedom

Latinos say AT&T, Google, Verizon and Comcast spending millions to control Internet, restricting online freedom of all Americans

A new coalition of over 40 national and local organizations representing Latino communities, Latinos for Internet Freedom launched today by filing comments with the Federal Communications Commission to keep the Internet open and protect Latino consumers.

As one of the fastest growing communities in the United States, Latinos number 47 million with nearly 19 million online. The groups say strong Network Neutrality - or open Internet - rules would allow Latino communities to reap the economic and cultural opportunity presented by what many have called, “the most inclusive, democratic and transformative communications system ever created.”

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Humboldt County's general plan should include bold communications advances

Sean McLaughlin, Times-Standard

If local visionaries have their way, Humboldt County's General Plan will include a new Communications Element focusing on fundamental policies to develop local communications infrastructure and services to meet local needs.

In the General Plan, the county could create a policy framework to support local broadband media for the next generation. With clear vision in the plan, future networks will better serve public safety, health, education, civic engagement, economic development and other community purposes.

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Franken to speak at FCC Future of the Internet hearing in Minneapolis

Andy Birkey, Minnesota Independent

UPDATE: @reclaimthemedia will tweet comments on tonight's hearing, starting around 3pm PDT. Sen. Al Franken spoke out on net neutrality ahead of a Minnesota visit by officials from the Federal Communications Commission to discuss the same issue. The FCC will hold a hearing at South High School in Minneapolis at 6 pm tonight. Franken said on Tuesday that if telecoms have their way, consumers will end up paying much more and have less open access to the internet.

“Net neutrality means everything travels at the same speed,” said Franken. He said that telecoms want consumers to “pay for the pipes.”

“The internet service providers want to pay for faster, premium access to people who will pay for it,” he said. “That means someone will get FOX before they will get you,” he told Access to Democracy host Alan Miller.

“Ultimately what I’m afraid of,” said Franken, “is that the internet service providers will be made up of about five companies.”

Here's more information from Main Street Project.

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New unity on community radio translator debate; LPFM still 'troubling' to NPR

Todd Urick, Common Frequency

In a rare instance of unity, religious broadcast network Educational Media Foundation (EMF) and grassroots radio advocate Prometheus Radio Project have found common ground regarding the future of Low Power FM (LPFM) and translators. Over the past decade, Prometheus and EMF, the owner of the nationwide KLOVE/AIR 1 FM network, have held opposing views regarding the remaining available radio spectrum. Now for the first time, the organizations have come together on a mutually beneficial policy proposal, submitted to the FCC as a Memorandum of Agreement.

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