Lots of news in net neutrality-land over the past couple of weeks. In fact, there’s so much going on right now, that’s its kind of hard to summarize. But we’ll give it a shot.
As you may recall, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler recently revealed that the agency would bring new net neutrality rules to a vote on February 26. In a January 7 interview at the Consumer Electronics Showcase in Las Vegas, Wheeler hinted that the rules would be crafted under Title II of the Telecommunications Act—something that FMC and our artist allies have pushed for because they offer the greatest degree of protections for musicians and other content producers, within the strongest legal framework.
That same day, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) reintroduced legislation—the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act—that would unambiguously authorize the FCC to issue net neutrality rules under whatever framework the Commission deems appropriate. (Check out the details in our legislation tracker.)
House Republicans are rumored to be crafting their own bill, which for the first time would recognize the need to prevent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from discriminating against lawful online content. This is significant in the sense that it represents a sea change for a party that has long fought against any form of net neutrality. However, it is likely that the proposed legislation is really just a way to stall the FCC from doing what it should and must do: issue clear rules of the road under the light-touch regulatory framework that is Title II.
In other words, this bill might make ginormous ISPs like Comcast happy, but it’s not what is needed to ensure that artists and independent labels have a shot at reaching audiences on their own terms. If Congress is to write a law enshrining net neutrality—which has always been in its purview—the legislation would have to mirror what the FCC already has complete and total authority to do under Title II. So once again to quote Public Enemy: don’t believe the hype. (And tell your Congresspersons not to, either.)
Probably the biggest news this week is a letter to the FCC from mobile telecommunications provider Sprint saying that light-touch regulation under a Title II framework will not harm investment or deployment. This is huge, especially considering the misinformation that has been spread by other telcos about reclassification under Title II—including made-up stories about higher taxes that have been soundly and routinely debunked.
On Wednesday, January 7, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler made news by hinting that upcoming net neutrality rules would be stronger (and more legally grounded) than previous proposals.
How is it possible that a single company can be America’s biggest cable television provider, its largest Internet Service Provider (ISP) and also own a major motion picture and television studio (NBC-Universal)? What happens when that company is allowed to get even bigger by gobbling up another huge ISP and cable provider?
On December 23, 201, the attached comments were submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in its proceeding “Applications of Comcast Corporation and Time Warner Cable Inc. for Consent to Assign or Transfer Control of Licenses and Applications” (MB Docket No. 14-57).
As we pointed out in our initial joint filing, the merger will negatively impact creators across markets—from multichannel programming distribution (MVPD) to online video distribution (OVD) to Internet service providers (ISPs). Comcast’s existing onwership of a major motion picture and television studio (NBC-Universal), combined with its dominance in cable television and internet service, put it in a position to leverage its size and influence to discriminate against unafilliated programming, harm competition and reduce payments to smaller programmers and content creators.
The comments dismantle several of Comcast’s arguments for the acquisition of Time Warner Cable, including a flawed economic rationale used to tout vague and unconvincing benefits. The filing also suggests that DSL Internet service should not be counted as part of the current broadband marketplace, due to speed and other limitations that render it non-comparable to cable and fiber offerings. An examination of the actual marketplace for broadband reveals already troubling levels of concentration, which will be exacerbated by a Comcast-TWC merger. For this and many other reasons made plain in our filing, the merger is not in the public interest, no conditions will satisfy this interest, and the FCC must block the deal.
You may already know that FMC is against the proposed merger between massive Internet/cable provider/NBC-Universal owner Comcast and the slightly less massive Time Warner Cable. Back in August of 2014, FMC and Writers Guild of America West (WGAW)—the folks who write the movies and TV shows you know and love—filed a “joint petition to deny” with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), urging them to block the deal.
Well, the list of folks against the merger just got bigger. Today, saw the launch of the Stop Mega Comcast Coalition, which includes FMC and WGAW, along with a diverse array of other groups who don’t want to see Comcast become even more powerful.
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, President Barack Obama underscored his support for an open, and accessible Internet based in free expression and entrepreneurship by calling for the FCC to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service.
The following statement is attributed to Casey Rae, VP for Policy and Education at Music Coalition (FMC), a national non-profit research, education and advocacy organization for musicians:
“The president hit the nail on the head in supporting light-touch rules using the bedrock principle of ‘common carriage.’ This is part of a longstanding American tradition in communications policy that enables both free expression and economic growth. read more