Since its inception, the internet has represented a powerful tool for the exchange of information and ideas. In recent years, it has also contributed greatly to the emergence of novel platforms for the dissemination of creative content. It is as members of the arts community who have come to depend on these structures that we write to you today.
Creators, in particular, depend on open internet structures to engage in a variety of ways, including direct interaction with audiences, fans and patrons, as well as collaboration with other artists. From musicians to filmmakers to writers to independent labels to arts and service organizations, today’s creative community depends on the internet to conduct business and contribute to the rich tapestry that is American culture.
Today’s creators are taking advantage of technologies fostered by the internet to deliver a diverse array of content to consumers, while creating efficient new ways to “do for ourselves” in terms of infrastructure. The access and innovation inspired by the web helps us meet the challenges of the 21st century as we contribute to local economies and help America compete globally.
It hasn’t always been so. Traditionally, the media landscape relied heavily on hierarchical chains of ownership and distribution, controlled by powerful gatekeepers such as large TV and movie studios, commercial radio conglomerates, major labels and so forth.
It would be tremendously disadvantageous to creative entrepreneurship if the internet were to become an environment in which innovation and creativity face tremendous barriers to entry due to business arrangements between a select few industry players.
This is why we support clear, enforceable and transparent rules to ensure that competition and free expression can continue to flourish online. Although many of us feel strongly that the recent FCC Order does not go far enough in its protections (particularly with regard to mobile broadband access), we recognize the importance of having a process in place by which concerns can be addressed and transparency pursued.
We believe that Congress has a role to play in establishing guidelines that preserve a competitive, accessible internet where free expression and entrepreneurship can continue to flourish. We also believe that stripping the FCC’s ability to enforce these core principles as proposed in S.J. Res. 6 runs counter the values shared by members on both sides of the aisle, as well as prior and current FCC leadership. Therefore, we strongly urge against a broad repudiation of the Commission’s Order.
Future of Music Coalition
National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture
TV and music content creators and their broadcast distributors are on the same page when it comes to opposing the FCC’s indecency enforcement regime, but differ on how the Supreme Court should approach its review of those regs. read more
THELEDE: Media Access Project, a public-interest law firm, filed a brief on Thursday asking the Supreme Court to strike down the Federal Communications Commission’s indecency policy as unconstitutionally vague.
The Supreme Court already ruled in the case, upholding the FCC’s fine on Fox for airing expletives during the Billboard Music Awards in 2002 and 2003. But the court only addressed whether the FCC’s fine was arbitrary, and sent the case back to a lower court to determine the policy’s constitutionality. That lower court struck down the FCC’s policy as violating the First Amendment, and the Supreme Court has agreed to re-hear the case. read more
This case is based on televised expletives aired on the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards broadcasts. Originally, the FCC determined that the utterances, whether intentional or not, were indecent after a slew of complaints were sent to the commission. During such an evaluation, the FCC queries whether the utterances “depict[ed] sexual or excretory organs or activities.” Fox appealed the ruling, and the Supreme Court held that the FCC’s ruling should stand because it was not “arbitrary and capricious” (in non-legalese that just means the FCC didn’t act crazy). When the Supreme Court sent the ruling back down to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, those New York-based justices declared the indecency policy so vague that it unconstitutionally restrained speech. On its second trip up to the highest of high courts, we should get a final answer as to whether the FCC’s indecency policy will stand.
Like FMC’s previous amicus briefs from July 2008 and September 2009, this filing demonstrates the “vague and arbitrary” nature of the FCC’s current indecency policy. The result of this policy has been a chilling effect on creativity on the public airwaves, due to broadcasters’ fears of getting fined for airing “offensive” content. For example, Ken Burns’ WWII documentary “The War” was aired in two different versions to satisfy PBS affiliates worried about possible FCC sanctions. Creators are left guessing what constitutes indecent material, which leads to self-censoring and ultimately deprives the public (and artists) of access to a variety of worthwhile content.
This post was authored by FMC Policy Consultant Adam Holofcener.
As the infamous Eminem once rapped, “The FCC won’t let me be.” Don’t worry, Em — the Federal Communications Commission isn’t singling you out. In fact, the FCC’s indecency policy applies to everyone who would be seen or heard on broadcast media.
The FCC’s policy is intended to keep content relatively “clean” between the hours of 6 am and 10 pm. A worthy goal, but how does it work in practice? Turns out not very well. As several courts have found, the FCC’s current indecency policy is unreasonably vagueand can lead to a chilling of creative expression. Now, it’s once again the Supreme Court’s turn to weigh in. read more
President Obama nominated two individuals late Monday to fill open slots on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). With one vacant seat and another expected shortly, Obama nominated Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Ajit Varadaraj Pai to the Commission. read more
Today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced its intention to file suit to prevent the acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T. The following statement can be attributed to Future of Music Coalition Deputy Director Casey Rae-Hunter.
“Future of Music Coalition applauds the Department of Justice for moving to block the AT&T and T-Mobile merger. We hope the FCC swiftly follows suit to preserve access and innovation in mobile communications. From competition in a crucial marketplace to jobs preservation, preventing this merger is the right thing to do. Creators and consumers alike should welcome today’s news, and we thank those in the music community for helping to illustrate what is at stake for artists and other creative entrepreneurs.” read more
In a July 12 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC opened the door for possible inclusion of low-power FM (LPFM) station applications alongside applications for FM translators (low-power stations that relay full-power FM signals). The FCC has committed to LPFM as a tool for bringing more community voices to the airwaves, but this move may pit existing stations against new applicants in competition for the same limited frequencies.
“It looks like the FCC is taking the right step forward in terms of trying to ensure that those opportunities for LPFM exist at all,” said Casey Rae-Hunter, deputy director of the Future of Music Coalition. Without such a compromise, the opportunity for new LPFMs could “just completely go away,” he said. read more
Our friends Ozomatli, known for their eclectic, genre-bending sound and outspoken approach to civic engagement and activism, recently shared their thoughts on the AT&T-T-Mobile merger. Ozomatli are an LA-based band currently serving as U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassadors and artist advisors to FMC. The band will also be in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, June 25to play a can’t miss one-off show with the National Symphony Orchestra Pops at the Kennedy Center.read more