Good news and bad news in the U.S. media policy struggles
By Mitchell Szczepanczyk at Dec 11, 2006
The good news, as the Save The Internet coalition reports:
The gavel has fallen on the 109th Congress marking the demise of entrenched corporate efforts to legislate away our Internet freedoms — and a stunning victory for real people who want to retain control of the Internet. The fate of Net Neutrality has now been passed to what appears to be a more Web-friendly Congress. ... The end of this Congress — and death of Sen. Ted Stevens' bad bill — gives us the chance to have a long overdue public conversation about what the future of the Internet should look like. This will not only include ensuring Net Neutrality, but making the Internet faster, more affordable and accessible.
The bad news is that, as far as the rest of the Telecom Act's provisions go, the Big Telecom behemoths are trying to get a goodly chunk of what they want and couldn't get in Congress at the Federal Communications Commission instead:
In 2006, the major telephone companies have been trying to ram or sneak through laws to implement their version of cable television, and doing so in such a way as to weasel their way out of public service obligations -- through state or national video franchises (as opposed to how it's done now with local and municipal franchises). In this way, they don't have to allot any channels to public access...or what's called PEG channels (public, educational, government). Big Telecom failed so far at trying to get anything passed at the Federal level, thanks to the organizing and outreach efforts of lots of people across the United States (and here in Chicago as well). But Big Telecom is trying to get a ruling in its favor rammed through in the next week (before a Democrat-party-led Congress takes power in January) at the Federal Communications Commission. An emergency appeal for responding to the FCC is being called for by the Alliance for Community Media. If you value public access television, please take a moment to visit the ACM's website to learn how you can help: www.alliancecm.org/blog.php A call or response to the FCC can make a big difference, and has in recent initiatives in the past. The deadline for response is December 13, with an FCC meeting scheduled for December 20. Quick action is needed and would be most appreciated.