Another year, another massive merger. Recall back in April 2015, when cable/internet behemoth Comcast—also owners of the major content studio NBC-Universal—walked away from its planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable, after folks like Future of Music Coalition pointed out how devastating this deal would be to content creators and Internet users. Well, now another slightly-less-massive cable co., Charter Communications, is attempting to gobble up TWC. If allowed to go through, this deal would create a true Mega Cable conglomerate with the same incentive as Comcast to call the shots on content and innovation while depriving creators and fans of choice in the legitimate digital marketplace.
It might not be the same kind of “open internet” issue the FCC had in mind, or tried to establish, in the net neutrality regulations last year, but “the test for the FCC might be: are they applying the cap to ALL data, or is discrimination happening,” notes Kevin Erickson, spokesperson for the Washington, DC-based Future of Music Coalition. “Granted, streaming video is the way most users would get to the point of that much data usage, but they may not be, technically. Obviously, Comcast would prefer for you to do your binge watching through their Xfinity platform, rather than through Netflix or other ‘over-the-top’ services.
You may have heard about “Binge On”—a way for T-Mobile subscribers with 3 gigabyte data caps to watching online video without worrying about blowing past their data limit and being hit with sizable overage charges. Sounds awesome, huh? Perhaps for some, but the program has nevertheless been criticized due to the fact that certain apps were binge-able and others were not. As we previously pointed out with another T-Mobile program, “Music Freedom,” this establishes a troubling precedent for consumers who want to be able to use their preferred apps to access legitimate, licensed content without being penalized for doing so. Such plans, while consumer-friendly on the surface, also impact developers who may find their products and services in the penalty box for no discernable reason.
Even more troubling are reports that T-Mobile is not only excluding certain video services—they’re also throttling non-Binge On video across the board, even for subscribers with unlimited data plans. So if you’re a T-Mobile customer who wants to check out a band’s Pledge Music video to decide whether you want to plunk down to support their upcoming record, you might end up watching a spinning wheel instead. If you’re hoping to take in an exclusive live concert from your favorite singer-songwriter on your tablet while on the bus, you probably won’t have much luck.
Feeling a bit of déjà vu? You may have thought net neutrality was settled following our historic February 2015 victory, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued light-touch rules to protect creators, small businesses and Internet users. But Big Telecom still has a dog in this fight, and it’s a big dog with lots and lots of money.
As is the case with many crucial liberties, the fight for network neutrality—the principle that preserves an open internet where everyone can build businesses, reach audiences and freely express themselves—is never truly over. It’s also important to remember that this fight is global. read more
The Internet is too important to creators to allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to pick winners and losers online. Artists of all backgrounds rely on the Internet to reach audiences, build businesses and exercise their rights to free speech. Without basic rules of the road preventing ISPs from favoring content from big money cronies over everyday creators and Internet users, artists and fans will lose.read more
Net neutrality. It’s an issue that impacts musicians, which is why FMC is so on top of it. By now, it’s obvious that today’s artists rely on the Internet for practically every aspect of their lives and careers. Net neutrality simply ensures that we can reach audiences and grow our businesses without discrimination from big companies like Comcast and Verizon.
Over the last year, we’ve watched with excitement as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted new construction permits for over 1500 new low-power FM (LPFM) radio stations across the country. These new stations are claiming space on the public airwaves to better represent the full diversity of American voices, and include stations run by community groups, activists, churches, labor unions, and college students. These stations may only have a range of a few miles, but their impact on their local communities, including musicians, can be immense.
Now, some community radio advocates have asked the FCC to allow these stations to expand their reach. A petition currently under consideration at the Commission would create provisions for LPFM stations that meet certain criteria to broadcast at 250 watts rather than just 100, thus expanding their geographic reach and allowing more listeners the chance to tune in.
Today, House Republicans approved legislation that would prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from implementing its Open Internet Order—rules set to go into effect this Friday, June 11. The worst part about this Congressional malarkey is that it is tucked into an appropriations bill that includes a whole bunch of other stuff that has nothing to do with net neutrality. read more