Saturday, June 2, 2007

Petition The FCC: For Your Children and Grandchildren's Sake

Hi Newshackers,

I recently forwarded a MoveOn.org message asking all my friends to sign their petition to the FCC halting their intended auctioning off of new bandwidth to the highest bidders, but to facilitate new and better wireless communications offerings. I strongly encourage you to sign it, as well, at the link in the post title above.

I also sent it to my conservative older brother. He responded, "What does the FCC, ATT, Verizon, Comcast etc. have to say about all this? Fred" I wrote back the following:

"Hi Fred,

The communications giants you mention (ATT, Verizon, Comcast, etc.) are competing fiercely among themselves for the greatest reach, influence, and profitability in the marketplace, but they are united in their efforts to prevent more players and newer technologies from gaining traction in the marketplace.

Thus, they want to purchase the rights to this new spectrum, not to use it commercially for providing enhanced services, or otherwise in the best interest of consumers, but to warehouse it to prevent newer players and technologies from playing. So they lobby the Congress and the FCC intensively to support regulatory structures that maintain the status quo and keep new competitors out.

Until the 2006 election, in which Democrats regained oversight of the FCC, the FCC had, for many years, abandoned it's proper role as guardian of the people's interests in national communications policy. It become the Federal Conglomeration Commission, the facilitator of industry initiatives designed to consolidate their ownership and control of the airwaves and physical connections that reach into our homes and lives.

Within days of taking over majority control of Congress, the Communications Committees of both houses called the FCC Chairman, Kevin Martin, on the carpet and laid out in no uncertain terms their total dissatisfaction with the FCC's status as industry advocate and insisted the FCC return to its traditional role. There's more on those hearings at my blog post http://www.newshacker.net/2007/03/la-times-democrats-to-fcc-were-watching.html

If you're interested in understanding these issues, I recommend Jeff Chester's new book: "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy," which I just finished reading last month. Bill Moyers' review quote is, "Jeff Chester is the Paul Revere of the media revolution. Read this book and you will understand the stakes." I heartily agree. Chester lays out the historically important decisions and highlights of how we got from the protections of the Communications Act of 1939 to our current situation and what the stakes are for our individual rights and capabilities in the digital future.

For further understanding the serious political impacts these policy decisions can have, read Tragedy & Farce, How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy, by John Nichols and Robert McChesney.

If you would rather watch TV programs, I strongly recommend the Net @ Risk series by Bill Moyers. My March review of this mini-series is here, as are links to Moyers' PBS web site.

Here is why I've compulsively written so much in response to your 15 word question:

How free your grandkids will be to use the Internet, and newer communications, computing, and entertainment services to their best advantage, rather than to the best advantage of mammoth corporate interests, is being decided over the next few years. That's why I blog about and am becoming active in promoting media reform - for the benefit of American democracy, and for everyone's children and grandchildren.

These issues are crucial to all Americans' future civil and political rights, and to their pursuit of happiness. I don't want to be sitting on the sidelines watching while the corporate giants gain monopoly control over what services we can access, what news we can watch, and when and how industry and government can invade our personal privacy for commercial or political purposes.

Love and best, as always,

/Dick

p.s. As always, your questions do crystallize my thoughts. I'll probably use this on the blog. /D"

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