Venezuela’s Young Communication Guerrillas

Supriyo Chatterjee, ZNet

On April 12, 2002, the Venezuelan media were gloating how a day earlier they had removed the troublesome Hugo Chavez from power. Theirs was not an empty boast. The private television channels and newspapers’ sustained campaign against the President had paid off in what some have called the world’s first media coup. The media did not just spin a yarn; they planned and, together with the military high command and the Catholic hierarchy, executed the coup. Eight years on, somewhat chastened but not reformed, they are having to face up to a different media landscape.

The overwhelming majority of the Venezuelan television, radio stations and newspapers is in private hands and as implacably hostile to the Bolivarian movement as ever. Their daily dose of psy-ops influences a significant part of the middle classes and, as the government supporters say, damages society’s mental health. Yet the state has avoided a head-on conflict with the old media establishment. Instead, the Bolivarian movement is creating its own media outlets and its sustained critique of the mainstream news is beginning to reach the communities.

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Protect the open Internet!

Color of Change

The Internet has made amazing things possible, like freeing the Jena 6, electing President Obama, even creating ColorOfChange. None of it could have happened without an "open" Internet: one where Internet service providers are not allowed to interfere with what is seen and by whom.

Now, Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon — the most powerful broadband providers — are trying to fundamentally change the way the Internet works. They're seeking to make even bigger profits by acting as gatekeepers over what you see and do online. If they succeed, the Internet would be more like radio and television: a few major corporations would control which voices are heard most easily, and it would be much harder for grassroots groups, individuals, and small businesses to compete with large corporations and well-funded special interests.

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Comcast CEO paid $34 million in 2009


Comcast Corp's chief operating officer Stephen Burke was the highest paid executive at the No. 1 U.S. cable company last year, topping even his boss Brian Roberts.

Burke was paid a total compensation package of $34 million in 2009, according to regulatory filings, a big jump from the $22.6 million he received in 2008. Last year he was paid a $3 million bonus and his stock awards more than doubled to $10 million.

His pay overtook CEO Roberts' $27.2 million package in 2009, which rose from $26.2 million. Roberts has previously been criticized by some corporate governance watchers for being paid high compensation.


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Net neutrality is up to Congress

Seattle Times

THE fight for open, equal access to the Internet shifts to Congress, after a federal appeals court Tuesday ruled the Federal Communications Commission could not impose the requirement.

[Seattle Times editorial]

This is a setback, but not the end to providing legally binding language that all users of the Internet, and the content it circulates, are treated equally by network providers.

If the courts found the administrative authority of the FCC inadequate, then it falls to lawmakers to pass legislation that puts the commission in firm control of the nation's broadband system. This Internet highway, this pipeline of information — pick your metaphor — has to stay open. That is a political imperative that crosses all partisan lines.

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FCC may not need Congress to reverse Appeals Court ruling on Internet regulation

David Dayen, FireDogLake

While the DC Circuit Court ruling on the FCC’s regulation of net neutrality and broadband Internet would appear to require legislative action for reversal, a key litigator in the case tells FDL News that the FCC could, if they chose, work through the ruling on their own by reversing some of the policies of the Bush Administration which sought to deregulate the online space.

I spoke with Marvin Ammori, who argued for the intervenors, Free Press, before the DC Circuit, against Comcast, who brought the case. Ammori argued in the case that the FCC had the statutory authority under the “ancillary jurisdiction” of various communications networks to regulate broadband, but the three-judge panel headed by Clinton appointee David S. Tatel disagreed.

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DC Circuit Court rules against FCC's authority to regulate net neutrality

Cecilia Kang, Washington Post

Comcast on Tuesday won a legal challenge against the Federal Communications Commission, in a ruling by a federal court that undermines the agency's ability to regulate Internet service providers.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the FCC lacked the authority to require Comcast, the nation's biggest broadband services provider, to treat all Internet traffic equally on its network.

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Why Internet connections are fastest in South Korea

John D Sutter, CNN

People in the United States basically invented the Internet. So U.S. connections must be the fastest and cheapest in the world, right?

Not so much.

Broadband Internet speeds in the United States are only about one-fourth as fast as those in South Korea, the world leader, according to the Internet monitoring firm Akamai.

And, as if to add insult to injury, U.S. Internet connections are more expensive than those in South Korea, too.

The slower connection here in the U.S. costs about $45.50 per month on average, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In South Korea, the much-faster hookup costs $17 per month less. An average broadband bill there runs about $28.50.

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Google broadband plan stirs quest for speed

Thomas Claburn, Information Week

Google on Friday advised people not to undertake dangerous stunts in their bids to be included in the company's ultrafast Internet broadband experiment, even as the arrival of the March 26 deadline for submissions would seem to render future folly pointless.

The company's announcement last month that it plans to build a series of experimental high-speed fiber optic networks to deliver broadband connectivity at speeds 100 times faster than average in the U.S. has unleashed an unexpected flood of requests from individuals and communities around the country who want to be part of the project.

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Who will defend the rights of people of color to an open Internet? We speak for ourselves.

Malkia Cyril, Huffington Post

In every competition, there's a winner and a loser.

The open Internet protections being debated by the Federal Communications Commission right now will determine who wins and who loses in the fight over whether big companies or regular people will control the Internet. I want everyday people to win.

In the fight over who will control the Internet, big companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast are hoping they will win a pass on FCC oversight and public interest protection leaving them free to make as much profit as they can even if the service they provide is gated and discriminatory. Some civil rights groups are legitimately concerned that protecting the public from discrimination online -especially the poor and people of color- from the proven abuses of Big Media companies will result in those companies refusing to build out high speed broadband to rural communities and poor urban communities. Media companies have said as much, claiming that public interest and consumer protections that ensure that the Internet remains an open and true source of innovation, otherwise known as "net neutrality", will cost too much and deprive them of revenue for deployment of broadband to the communities that need it most. Threatening to withhold buildout of this critical national utility in poor communities if there are consumer protections attached is called digital redlining, and it's wrong.

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FCC to hold open Internet hearing in Seattle, April 28

Reclaim the Media

The Federal Communications Commission has announced a public hearing in Seattle to discuss open internet issues. The workshop, entitled "Approaches to Preserving the Open Internet," is currently scheduled to take place at 9:30am April 28 at the Jackson Federal Building in downtown Seattle. According to the FCC, the hearing is intended to examine "how the Internet’s openness can best be preserved, including by examining historical and ongoing efforts to protect Internet openness in the United States and other countries, and by discussing the key technological, economic, and legal considerations relevant to the need for and substance of the Commission’s proposed open Internet policies."

Mark your calendars for April 28. Stay tuned to Reclaim the Media for further information, and get involved with local organizing to protect net neutrality, preserve civil rights online, and promote universal access to affordable broadband!

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