Archive for fcc

Sunday Talkers Shame Themselves

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Sunday Talk Shows

The only thing missing from yesterday's Sunday talk show openings was the Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton singing the duet of, "Baby It's Cold Outside." It's actually quite a good rendition. You can see it here.

But are these chatfests, Meet the Nation, Face the Nation, This Week, Fox News Sunday, etc. really doing their jobs -- providing a public service? Bringing us unfiltered news? I think not.

Yesterday they all began with a moment about the cold weather, then immediately went into full Chris Christie coverage. What everyone of these shows ignored was this:

HUFFPO:

The emergency began Thursday following complaints to West Virginia American Water about a licorice-type odor in the tap water. The source: the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, which had leaked out of a 40,000-gallon tank at a Freedom Industries facility along the Elk River.

Here it is, Sunday, four days later, and over 300,000 West Virginians were still without clean tap water. They can't drink the contaminated water, can't bath in it, can't cook with it, can't do wash in it, and yet how much coverage did it get on the public service shows? Zilch.

But doesn't this crisis meet national standards? If a spill like this can happen in W.V. it can happen anywhere. Should we be investigating how it happened and seek out safeguards? Evidently not if the victims are in West Virginia.

The network news talkers are treating this less than a throw-away story. If mentioned at all, it's like "Entire neighborhood all paint their houses the same color of grey." What they leave out is that all of these houses were painted in lead-based paint and everyone in the neighborhood is going to die of cancer. If it's not a Republican or Democratic attack, it's not worthy of the Sunday talkers. And that's why these supposed news shows should be embarrassed and reprimanded. They owe everyone an apology for spitting on the urgent and legitimate problems of one of our fifty states. A chemical spill effecting so many IS NEWS.

Now the EPA is constantly coming under attack on Sunday GOP talkers as an example of over-regulation. Republicans use this ruse almost almost as much as the concern over voter fraud in their Red states or the damage same-sex marriage is causing their "normal" marriage. Yet when a disaster strikes, why the crickets? Why not demonstrate what the EPA does? If it wasn't for them, these innocent people, victims of a dangerous chemical spill might be glowing in the dark or have three ears by now.

What's equally startling is that there isn't even an adequate clean-up plan in force to allow such a vast sum of people to be provided with bottled water and food to get them through this crisis time. This Elk River, where the chemicals spilled, runs for hundreds of miles, reaching both the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. We're talking potentially half of our nation being affected.

To me that's news. Grumpy Chris Christie playing dumb or lying about his part or knowledge in his bridge-gate scandal is news, and should be covered, but so should the plight of the victims half of our nation. When a hurricane displaces and damages vast swaths of land, the press is all over it. But in old West Virginia, not so much.

Beltway news is noisy, to say the least. But is it urgent or more important than pressing news about half our nation facing a possible poisoning? Hardly.

Maybe next time stations come up for licensing, lets remember that Meet the Press and the other talkers are just paid political content masquerading as public service. Maybe locally qualifying shows should be produced, (improving local economies) and demanded in their place if they're being done to meet the FCC public licensing obligations.

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Net Neutrality Rules Published, Lawsuits Soon to Follow

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Gaw, this is obviously bad for "job creators". From Wired, h/t to Boing Boinb.

The FCC has finally officially published long-delayed rules prohibiting cable, DSL and wireless internet companies from blocking websites and requiring them to disclose how they slow down or throttle their networks.

The so-called Net Neutrality rules (.pdf), passed along party lines in late December last year in a 3-2 vote, were published in the Federal Register Friday and will go into effect on November 20.

The basic outlines of the rules, which differentiate between fixed broadband (e.g. cable, fiber and DSL) and mobile broadband (the connection to smartphones and mobile hotspot devices):

The Commission adopts three basic protections that are grounded in broadly accepted Internet norms, as well as our own prior decisions.

First, transparency: fixed and mobile broadband providers must disclose the network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms of their broadband services.
Second, no blocking: fixed broadband providers may not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; mobile broadband providers may not block lawful websites, or block applications that compete with their voice or video telephony services.
Third, no unreasonable discrimination: fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic.

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Al Franken: Comcast/NBC approved -- but the fight isn't over

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I get emails:

Al Franken - U.S. Senator, Minnesota

Dear Laffy,

A big disappointment today: The FCC and the Department of Justice have signed off on the Comcast/NBC merger, paving the way for a single enormous media conglomerate to obtain unprecedented control over the flow of information in our country.

I’ll be candid with you: This is an awful development for those of us who care about media consolidation. It will restrict your freedom of choice and raise your cable and Internet bills. And it could pave the way for even more media mergers and even less room for independent voices in the media.

But the fight’s not over. We’re building a grassroots movement to stand up to the special interests and stand up for middle class consumers. And every time an American learns more about what’s at stake in this fight, our movement grows stronger.

Help to strengthen our grassroots movement -- share this message on FACEBOOK and TWITTER!

I know that these corporate elites have all the money and lots of influence -- even, it appears, with President Obama’s Department of Justice and an FCC chaired by one of his appointees.

And I know that this decision only validates their efforts to silence critics and punish dissenters.

But I’ve also seen how hard many of you worked to raise our collective voices and warn of the danger posed by corporate control of the media. And I’m confident that, if we take today’s setback as a cue to work even harder, we’ll win in the end and keep our media free.

I’ll be in touch soon to talk about next steps.

Thanks for standing with me,


Al Franken

P.S. -- Remember, we can only stand up to the financial power of the corporate special interests with people power. So please share this message on Facebook and Twitter!

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BREAKING: FCC approves Comcast/NBC Universal merger

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Just breaking on MSNBC, the damn Comcast/NBC Universal merger has been approved, as expected.

Via WaPo:

The Federal Communications Commission has approved Comcast's acquisition of NBC Universal, allowing for a joint venture that puts a vast library of television shows and movies under the control of the nation's biggest cable and broadband Internet service provider.

Together, the companies have 16.7 million broadband subscribers, about 23 million cable customer and dozens of lucrative channels such as USA, Bravo, MSNBC and CNBC.

Previous post with more details about the merger here.

UPDATE, via an email alert:

AP (AP)  Comcast wins Justice Department approval to take over NBC Universal, with conditions

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Just 21% Want FCC to Regulate Internet, Most Fear Regulation Would Promote Political Agenda

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Rasmussen, how I hate you. These people trust companies over government? The Republicans have won.

American voters believe free market competition will protect Internet users more than government regulation and fear that regulation will be used to push a political agenda.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 21% of Likely U.S. Voters want the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the Internet as it does radio and television. Fifty-four percent (54%) are opposed to such regulation, and 25% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

The survey was conducted shortly after the FCC decided on a party line vote to impose so-called “net neutrality” regulations on the Internet world. Republicans and unaffiliated voters overwhelmingly oppose FCC regulation of the Internet, while Democrats are more evenly divided. Those who use the Internet most are most opposed to FCC regulations.

By a 52% to 27% margin, voters believe that more free market competition is better than more regulation for protecting Internet users. Republicans and unaffiliated voters overwhelmingly share this view, but a plurality of Democrats (46%) think more regulation is the better approach.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters believe that the FCC would use its regulatory authority to promote a political agenda. Half that number (28%) disagree and believe the commission would regulate in an unbiased manner. The partisan divide is the same on this question as the others. A plurality of Democrats sees an unbiased regulatory approach, while most Republicans and unaffiliated voters fear a political agenda.

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FCC chairman to OK NBCU-Comcast merger with conditions

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I am more than a little queasy over this:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to approve the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal with a set of conditions.  [...]

The FCC's merger conditions address diversity, the future of online video and program access, among other issues, they said.

Oh goody, this should end well...

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FCC Approves Plan to Regulate the Internet

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Via an Fox email alert, as expected:

FCC votes, 3-2, to approve plan to regulate the Internet, allowing service providers to charge customers based on bandwidth use, despite warnings that it could hurt industry investment and the economy. [...]

Lawmakers in both parties have been arguing for months that Congress, not the Obama administration, should take the lead role in deciding whether and how much to police the web. But despite a brief backing-off earlier in the year, the FCC has pushed ahead with its new regulatory plan. [...]

Public interest groups fear that exception could lead to a two-tiered Internet -- with a fast lane for companies that can pay for priority and a slow lane for everyone else.

They are also worried that the proposal lacks strong protections for wireless networks as more Americans go online using mobile devices.

The plan would prohibit wireless carriers from blocking access to any websites or competing applications such as Internet calling services on mobile devices. It would require them to disclose their network management practices too.

But wireless companies would get more flexibility to manage data traffic as wireless systems have more bandwidth constraints than wired networks.

The decision is being criticized by both sides.

My side is: Preventing some people from accessing Internet sites is beyond wrong. Net Neutrality is mandatory, fake Net Neutrality is undemocratic. We've had enough inequality in this country to last a lifetime.

We have a fight on our hands.

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