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Readers Ask for Disclosure That Washington Post Owns Cable Co.

Readers and commenters on this blog have noted that The Washington Post Co. owns Cable One, a cable network that provides video and Internet service in 19 states.

The information, readers said, should be provided by opinion writers when they write about a net neutrality proposal at the Federal Communications Commission that could impact the way Internet service providers run their networks.

One reader, Derek Turner of public interest group Free Press, noted after my post about The Post's editorial on net neutrality (again, their writings are completely separate from the non-opinion stories on from the newsroom) that the disclosure was in order.

"This editorial could have supported the spirit of disclosure by mentioning that The Washington Post Company also owns Cable One -- an ISP that might stand to benefit financially in a market without Network Neutrality," Turner wrote.

Thanks for all the feedback and comments. Keep them coming.

By Cecilia Kang  |  October 1, 2009; 10:45 AM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang
Previous: Former FCC Chair: Yes to Net Neutrality, But Maybe Not Wireless, As He Heads to Firm With Telecom Clients | Next: Google Voice May Be Breaking Phone Rules, But Not Net Neutrality: Experts


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The Post should also disclose the bias in its news reporting on the issue of "network neutrality" -- including its gushing article, about a year ago, lauding "network neutrality" lobbyist Ben Scott and your own participation in a panel discussion intended to promote network neutrality regulation.

Posted by: squirma | October 1, 2009 7:59 PM

Who really funds FreePress and its net neutrality allies?

FreePress hounds any voice
that doesn't support 'net neutrality'
regulation to disclose their financial interests, like they did here with urging the Washington Post to disclose that they owned cable systems in their editorial opposing net neutrality. I agree they should have disclosed, but I don’t agree that disclosure is only important for net neutrality opponents, but not for proponents like FreePress and its allies. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

FreePress has frequently attacked me as a shill and astroturf. They ignore that I openly, unabashedly, and regularly disclose that my firm Precursor LLC is an industry consulting firm that works for companies and that I am Chairman of NetCompetition.org which is funded by broadband interests. It is not news that I strongly agree with the broadband sector view that markets produce better outcomes for consumers than regulation.

If transparency is truly important to Free Press, why doesn’t FreePress lead by example and openly disclose who all their major funders are and also demand that other prominent activist organizations in the net neutrality debate like New America Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the Media Access Project also fully disclose their corporate funding directly from Google, eBay, Amazon, or indirectly from their executives, employees or friends?

FreePress and its allies would have more credibility if they lived up to the standard they demand from everyone else and publicly disclosed who their corporate or wealthy sponsors are. FreePress doesn’t trust the representations of anyone else, why should anyone trust FreePress’ claims of being free of big money interests -- be they corporate or individual?

So self-appointed astroturf-busters Mr. Tim Karr and Mr. Derek Turner of FreePress, be principled, take the high road, lead by example, and paste your major contributor list here and insist that your net neutrality regulation allies do the same. Come clean.

Posted by: scottcleland1 | October 2, 2009 6:09 PM

I don't agree with Scott Cleland on eveything, but I must agree with him here. Free Press refuses to disclose its funding sources, and given that their agenda is so precisely aligned with that of certain corporations -- especially Google -- one has to wonder what they are hiding.

Free Press makes the absurd claim that it takes no money from corporations. Well, if they accept money from even one "charitable foundation" (e.g. the Ford Foundation, which is rumored to fund them), then they are not telling the truth, because such foundations are required by law to be -- you guessed it -- corporations. So, this assertion is almost certainly false.

Also, it is well known that "charitable foundations" routinely accept "pass-through" funding from large companies and give it to other groups. (United Way even has a formal program via which it does this.) Is Free Press using this technique to "launder" money from Google? Amazon? Microsoft? The group won't say.

Another ruse which is used to hide contributions from companies is to report them as "personal" contributions from the companies' executives. (The New America Foundation, another astroturf group which is lobbying for "network neutrality," does this -- reporting millions in contributions from Google CEO Eric Schmidt and only much smaller ones from Google.)

It's ironic that Free Press freely calls others "astroturfers" when it is so obviously astroturfing itself.

Posted by: squirma | October 4, 2009 4:35 PM

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