Tuesday, January 12, 2010

48 Hours to Save the Internet

January 12, 2009, 11:00 a.m.

Tell the FCC You Care
(brought to you by FromDC2Iowa.blogspot.com*)

The FCC is about to decide whether the phone and cable companies are going to be able to censor the content you can send, and receive, through the Internet.

If you care, you might let them know -- before the comment period expires this Thursday, January 14.

It's easy. It's cool. It's fun. And, oh yes, it can also be a useful contribution to the preservation of the First Amendment.

Just go to the freepress.net Web site for the purpose: Save The Internet, http://www.savetheinternet.com/fcc-comments. (If you'd like to know more about that outfit see the bottom of this blog entry.) Follow the simple directions. Insert your comment in the box. (If you can't think of what to say just try, "Save the Internet!" or "Give us meaningful Net Neutrality.") Almost immediately you'll get a neat response, that includes your comment, back from the FCC.

Here's what I submitted:
As a former FCC commissioner I watched -- and protested -- what happens when those who provide the conduits are permitted to also own and control the content. It occurred when the three networks dominated the television industry, and could create hits for the shows they owned merely by broadcasting them from their O-and-O stations -- to the disadvantage of the independent producers, and the creativity offered the audience. It occurred when those who wired up America for cable television distribution were permitted to own the sources of cable programming -- to the disadvantage of those they shut out of their distribution systems, and the American people.

There were problems with AT&T. I wrote dissenting opinions about them, and played a role in the Carterfone and MCI cases in opening up the telephone industry to competition. But one problem it did not have was its disinterest in, and distance from, content. Everyone who wanted a phone had a legal right to one, and to use it to say whatever they wanted through AT&T's wires (subject, of course, to regulation by others for fraud or criminal activity; but not control of content or censorship by the phone company).

The strength, the creativity, the economic engine, of the Internet has been in large measure a result of its openness to all, its lack of censorship powers on the part of those providing the conduits.

Please stand up for the American people, the First Amendment, economic innovation, growth and jobs. Stand up to the telephone and cable companies. Give us some meaningful Net Neutrality regulations.

Thank you.

-- Nicholas Johnson
Here are excerpts from freepress' description of itself:
Free Press Basics

Free Press is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, quality journalism, and universal access to communications.

Free Press was launched in late 2002 by media scholar Robert W. McChesney, journalist John Nichols and Josh Silver, our executive director. Today, Free Press is the largest media reform organization in the United States, with nearly half-a-million activists and members and a full-time staff of more than 30 based in our offices in Washington, D.C., and Florence, Mass.

Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund, our advocacy arm, are nonprofit organizations that rely on the support of our members. Please click here to make a donation or learn about member benefits.

Our Purpose

Media play a huge role in our lives. TV, radio, the Internet, movies, books and newspapers inform and influence our ideas, opinions, values and beliefs. They shape our understanding of the world and give us the information we need to hold our leaders accountable. But our media system is failing.

This failure isn't natural. For far too long, corrupt media policy has been made behind closed doors in the public's name but without our informed consent. If we want better media, we need better media policies. If we want better policies, we must engage more people in policy debates and demand better media.

That's why Free Press was created. We're working to make media reform a bona fide political issue in America. Powerful telecommunications, cable and broadcasting companies have plenty of lobbyists to do their bidding. We're making sure the public has a seat at the table, and we're building a movement to make sure the media serve the public interest.

Free Press believes that media reform is crucial not just for creating better news and entertainment, but to advancing every issue you care about. A vibrant, diverse and independent media is the cornerstone of a healthy democracy.
I couldn't have said it better myself.

Watch its Web site for announcements of the next national convention. Join with thousands of American media mavens and activists for a few days of fun, inspiration, and hope.
* Why do I put this blog ID at the top of the entry, when you know full well what blog you're reading? Because there are a number of Internet sites that, for whatever reason, simply take the blog entries of others and reproduce them as their own without crediting the source. I don't mind the flattering attention, but would appreciate acknowledgment as the source, even if I have to embed it myself. -- Nicholas Johnson
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