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« News Polarization & Ethnic Media | Main | Bill Moyers Essay: Takin' It to the Streets, Again »

The Net @ Risk update

by Rick Karr

Since we're talking about media this week, it seems to be a good time for an update on the fight over “net neutrality."

(If you're not familiar with the term, all you need to know is that this battle is a lot like the one over media ownership that we cover on this week's show: It involves the FCC, and it pits media conglomerates – in this case the cable and telephone giants that Rick Karr by Robin Hollandprovide most Americans with Internet service – against the public interest. For a more detailed explanation, check out the web page for the documentary that we broadcast on the subject last year.)

Public-interest advocates say net neutrality is essential to preserving openness, innovation, and free expression online. Cable and telephone conglomerates and their allies argue that net neutrality is a “solution in search of a problem” -- in other words, that they'd never censor or otherwise interfere with online content.

But a few recent incidents have cast doubt on the conglomerates' claims, according to net neutrality advocates.

(Photo: Robin Holland)

In August, phone and Internet giant AT&T offered an exclusive webcast of a Chicago-area concert featuring the band Pearl Jam. When the band played its song “Daughter,” singer Eddie Vedder altered some lyrics to take a swipe at the President, singing, “George Bush, leave this world alone," and "George Bush find yourself another home." But the concert's online audience never heard those lyrics because AT&T cut them from the webcast. A spokesperson for the telecom behemoth said it was a mistake, but later admitted to other, similar “mistakes” in the past.

In September, another phone and Internet giant – Verizon – prohibited abortion-rights group NARAL from sending a mass text message to supporters' cell phones. Verizon quickly reversed the decision, but neutrality advocates called it a chilling sign of the power that telecom firms have over free speech. While the incident involved cell phones, rather than the Internet, neutrality advocates said it showed how Internet firms could – and would – censor online content they don't like.

Finally, just last month, cable and Internet giant Comcast blocked some customers' access to an online network called BitTorrent, which allows users to share music, movies, and TV shows for free – much like the original Napster program that incurred the wrath of the record industry in the late 90s. But neutrality advocates said Comcast's move wasn't merely a strike against online “piracy”: BitTorrent could also become a new (and legitimate) way for TV and movie viewers to see whatever they want, whenever they want – in other words, competition for Comcast's existing cable TV business.

A coalition of pro-neutrality groups has asked the FCC to look into the Comcast incident. Meanwhile, politicians have been speaking up for net neutrality: Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has promised to defend net neutrality
if he's elected, and Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) have renewed their call for a law protecting net neutrality.

We hope to update the story on a future broadcast. Stay tuned.


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Comments

The Republicans want media consolidation for the same reason they want continued war. Greed and Power.

I just discovered that one of the two defecting Democrats now supporting Bushes torture D.A. nominee is a member of the Trilateral Commission (New World Order). I've asked Mr Moyers, to devote some time to exposing the New World Order, etc., here is a copy of my request.


"Mr. Moyers
As the lone defending voice of democracy in America; would you please reveal the fact that one of the two defecting Democrates giving Bush his new torture friendly D.A. is a Trilateral Commission member (a visible part of the New World Order)...

(From Wikipedia Trilateral Commission Membership List)

Dianne Feinstein: Democratic U.S. Senator, former mayor of San Francisco, member of the Council on Foreign Relations; ranking member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security.

Please dedicate some time exposing the New World Order, its history, its Illuminati origins and its objectives, overthrowing Constitutional Government and U.S. Sovereignty.

If you fail us, who is left to defend Democracy?

Michael Couch"

You might also be interested to know that the New York Times holds 8 seats on the Council of Foreign Relations, another New World Order organization. No wonder they don't report war demonstations or print pictures of 9/11 Planes without windows.

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