While last week’s internet slowdown protest brought Net Neutrality to the headlines, resulting in the most comments to the FCC on any topic ever, this week is going to be equally busy and important for defenders of the open internet. For those who need a refresher, net neutrality is the principle that all legitimate web traffic should be treated equally by internet service providers; it’s fundamental to how the internet can function as a democratic platform where all voices can be heard, and especially important for independent musicians and labels. Read on for the full details!
Today, you may have noticed that a whole bunch of your favorite websites (us included!) are participating in a symbolic “Internet Slowdown.” This day of action brings together a very diverse group of companies, organizations, and individuals to stand up for real net neutrality. Net neutrality is the principle that all legitimate web traffic should be treated equally by internet service providers; it’s fundamental to how the internet can function as a democratic platform where all voices can be heard.
WASHINGTONDC— The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Future of Music Coalition (FMC) submitted formal opposition today to the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, petitioning the Federal Communications Commission to deny the transaction. In 2010, both WGAW and FMC raised concerns about the vertical integration between Comcast and NBC Universal. Both organizations urged the FCC to adopt strong conditions to protect content creators, consumers and competition. But, in the three years following the merger, Comcast has used its market power to harm content competitors on both traditional and online content platforms.
The proposed acquisition of TWC, even with nominal divestitures to Charter and Spinco, will magnify the harms that have occurred in the last three years and will hinder the development of a diverse and competitive media market. The Guild and the Coalition assert that because the deal would grant an unprecedented amount of power to a single entity, harm consumers and create a serious threat to competition in the video and broadband marketplaces, it does not meet the FCC’s criteria for serving the public interest.
Creators gotta stick together. That’s why Future of Music Coalition is proud to join Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to block the proposed merger between cable and internet behemoth Comcast and the slightly smaller behemoth Time Warner Cable (TWC).
We probably don’t have to tell you that both companies routinely win the top (dis)honor for worst customer service. What might be new information is how much control Comcast already has over what you see and hear. If the company is permitted to acquire TWC, they’ll possess unparalleled power over the future for music and video.
Our joint petition to deny the merger, filed before the FCC on August 25, 2014, makes the case that a combined company would reduce opportunities for creators of all kinds—including the folks that write for television and movies, as well as musicians and composers.
On August 25, 2014, Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and Future of Music Coalition (FMC) submitted formal opposition to the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, petitioning the Federal Communications Commission to deny the transaction. In 2010, both WGAW and FMC raised concerns about the vertical integration between Comcast and NBC Universal. Both organizations urged the FCC to adopt strong conditions to protect content creators, consumers and competition. But, in the three years following the merger, Comcast has used its market power to harm content competitors on both traditional and online content platforms.
The proposed deal between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is the latest in a wave of major media mergersdrawing public concern and scrutiny from the feds. Deals like AT&T’s reported acquisition of Direct TV for $50 billion and Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp for $19 billion, along with last year’sMaker Studios buyout by Disney—also near the billion dollar mark—are part of a larger trend of corporate consolidation. The Comcast Time Warner deal itself could be upwards of $45 billion, but is not the biggest deal Time Warner has been a part of. The Time Warner/AOL Online deal in 2000 was the largest merger by value ever announced, coming in at over $186 billion.
Beyond the staggering dollar figures are very real antitrust and public policy concerns. Let’s look at what it means for creators and fans when just a few companies control so much of the media, technology and entertainment universe.
On July 15, 2014 Future of Music Coalition submitted the following comments in the Federal Communications Commission’s public docket on Net Neutrality. You can submit your own comments at http://www.fcc.gov/comments ; reply comments will be due in mid-September.
The arrival of broadband Internet has reshaped how music is accessed and enjoyed while presenting new challenges and opportunities for creators and the music industries. Though these developments had an early, disruptive initial impact on traditional music business models, there is every reason to believe that Internet-engendered innovations will also pave the way for a brighter future for music, provided that the ability for creative entrepreneurs to reach audiences online is not compromised. read more
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, prominent musicians and songwriters urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish rules to keep the Internet open for creativity and entrepreneurship. In a separate filing, more than two dozen of the America’s most influential arts and culture organizations called for the strongest rules possible to prevent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from picking winners and losers online.
Musicians and songwriters including OK Go, R.E.M., Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Nate Query of the Decemberists, Laura Balance of Superchunk and Merge Records, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Laura Veirs, Rebecca Gates, Martín Perna of Antibalas and Daptone Super Soul Revue and more described the dangers of a “pay-to-play” Internet, where only those with deep pockets can reach audiences without interference.
On July 15, 2014, a consortium of musicians submitted the following joint comments in the Federal Communications Commission’s public docket on Net Neutrality. You can submit your own comments at http://www.fcc.gov/comments or email openinternet [at] fcc [dot] gov; reply comments will be due September 10. Participating musicians included:
Laura Ballance, bass player/ song writer for Superchunk, label owner, Merge Records
Charles Bissell, The Wrens
Rebecca Gates, musician/composer/producer
Merrill Garbus, tUnE-yArDs
Jim James, My Morning Jacket
Cheston Knapp, writer/editor
Sean Meadows, Everlasting the Way
Brett Lyman, co-owner of M’lady’s Records, Machu Picchu Records, and musician (Chain & the Gang, Hive Dwellers)
Neal Morgan, drummer/arranger
Thao Nguyen, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down OK Go
Alec Ounsworth, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Jeff Parker, (guitarist/composer/jazz musician/member of Tortoise)
Tony Perez, Editor, Tin House Books
Martín Perna (saxophone- Antibalas, Daptone Super Soul Revue)
Nate Query, bassist, The Decemberists, Black Prairie REM
John Strohm, musician and attorney
Laura Veirs, singer-songwriter
Michael Wells, Dir. of Ops & Digital Light @ In The Attic Records, bassist for The Walkabouts YACHT
I. Artists Make The Internet Incredible
We file these comments as musicians, songwriters, entrepreneurs, rabble-rousers, advocates, innovators, Internet users and members of the public. Each of us uses the Internet in practically every aspect of our lives and careers, from connecting with fans to booking tours, to selling music and merchandise to collaborating with other artists. Those of us who remember the small army of personnel it took in the old days to do even a couple of the things listed above are grateful for the innovations that have come from an open Internet. read more