Free Press ad: FCC selling out to telecom, cable
Public interest group Free Press took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post Wednesday criticizing the Federal Communications Commission for meeting behind closed doors with the Internet access and service giants to cut a deal that could potentially help it avoid broadband regulations.
The media reform advocacy group said the nation’s communications watchdog is acting like other government officials who are “catering to big business instead of protecting American people – just like they did before the BP oil disaster and the financial crisis.”
Earlier this week, FCC Chief of Staff Eddie Lazarus and other senior officials gathered with the lead policy executives for AT&T, Verizon, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Google and Skype to work out an agreement on narrow legislation on net neutrality – a proposed FCC rule that would force broadband service providers to treat all Web traffic equally.
A source at the meeting on Tuesday said the parties were "far apart" on net neutrality and other issues. Analyst Rebecca Arbogast of Stifel Nicholaus said even if the parties do come up with an agreement, it is unlikely Congress would take up a law on net neutrality anytime soon.
AT&T, Verizon and Comcast oppose the rule, saying they need more flexibility to manage network congestion. Google and Skype rely on rules that would stop carriers from blocking their and other applications on the Web.
An agreement would help the FCC avoid a proposal to assert its authority over broadband by redefining it as a phone service. The FCC arguably could not pursue its net neutrality policy and its goal to expand broadband connections without doing so.
Free Press said it and other public interest groups weren’t invited to the private meetings. The group spent more than spent $42,000 for the ad.
“Despite the chairman’s campaign to be transparent, it's doing the same things as the previous administration,” said Josh Silver, head of Free Press.
June 23, 2010; 10:07 AM ET
Categories: AT&T , Broadband , FCC , Google , Net Neutrality , Verizon
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