Net Neutrality: The Technology Formerly Known As Phone...

NOTE: This is fairly long and was written in response to questions that came out of attempts to discuss NN with Congressional staff; sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  It is intended to provide a general overview for NN 101. Cross posted at DKos.

The Technology Formerly Known As Phone does not want you to know about the significance of Net Neutrality for the future of America's ability to develop and produce innovative products and services on the Internet.  How did we get to this place, and what can you do to change it?

Back when telephone exchanges were still being built across America, the U.S. Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1934.  

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FCC indecency fines: House Dems are with the prudes

A piece of Grade A pandering to the bigots.

The bill, S 193, which increases the level of fines that the FCC can impose on broadcasters for breaches of the indecency rules tenfold, passed as a suspension in the House yesterday by a score of 379-35.

Ron Paul was the only GOP to vote against. Eight Dems didn't vote.

That makes by my reckoning 159 Dem reps standing shoulder to shoulder with Brent Bozell and his fag-hating friends.

Pelosi voted in favor.

San Francisco hippie liberal...

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Free National WiFi Network

Once Matt and crew save the Net we are left with one big unsolved question.  How do we get broadband penetration nationwide?  It is completely impractical to lay fiber across the country.  The only practical solution is to do it wirelessly.  It is still expensive and it would be hard for anyone to turn a profit, especially in the rural areas.  All of this has been known for years, but not much has happened.  Sure the big cities are working on their own MuniWiFi, but the rural areas are still stuck on dialup.

My uncle (not Jay) just sent me a link to a potential solution to the problem.  It is very intriguing and I am interested in knowing what people think of the concept.

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Indecency Warrior's Campaign Peaking - Brent Bozell's Push May Spur Legislation

Profile: Indecency Warrior's Campaign Peaking- Brent Bozell's Push May Spur Legislation

By Doug Halonen

Television Week

May 15, 2006

If federal lawmakers, as widely anticipated, soon move to approve legislation that cracks down on indecent television programming, the multibillion-dollar media industry will have to concede defeat largely to one man: L. Brent Bozell III.

Mr. Bozell, 50, is president and founder of the watchdog Parents Television Council, the group widely credited for spurring the Federal Communications Commission to hand down millions of dollars of indecency fines to broadcasters over the past couple of years. The PTC is leading the lobbying charge on Capitol Hill that could soon raise the cap on the FCC broadcast indecency fines by tenfold or more.

"Whatever they're paying him, they ought to triple it," said Jack Valenti, former chief of the Motion Picture Association of America.

"[The PTC is] definitely pushing the agenda on the Hill," said Jim Dyke, executive director of TV Watch, an organization founded by major TV networks to combat PTC and other critics of television programming.

Mr. Bozell is on the industry's radar screen now because legislation by Sen. Sam Brownback,

R-Kan., that would raise the cap on FCC indecency fines from $32,500 to $325,000 may be headed for a vote by the Senate Commerce Committee within the next couple of weeks.

The House has already approved a measure that would raise the cap to $500,000 and that includes other provisions that could result in FCC license revocation for stations with repeat offenses. To make matters worse for the industry, some leading lawmakers are threatening to bring the House bill directly to the Senate floor for a vote.

Despite their grudging admiration for the discomfort Mr. Bozell has caused them, industry officials attack his methods.

According to television industry insiders, much of Mr. Bozell's organization, which claims more than 1 million members, can be viewed as a phantom of sorts. The PTC grossly exaggerates concerns about programming by using computer-generated form-letter complaints that its members can file with the click of a button on their computers, Mr. Bozell's critics said.

"He's very clever at what he does, which is to manufacture complaints and intimate that there's a mass movement in America that wants to censor television," said Jonathan Rintels, executive director of the Hollywood watchdog Center for Creative Voices in Media.

In an interview last week Mr. Bozell said it is irrelevant that PTC campaigns, which have generated many of the thousands of complaints received at the FCC over the past couple of years, are conducted via e-mail.

"Who cares how [PTC members] do it?" Mr. Bozell said.

Mr. Bozell said PTC's campaign to clean up the nation's airwaves originally launched in 1995. The push, he said, started as a spinoff from the Media Research Center, a conservative organization that Mr. Bozell also heads. The research group's mission is to document what it sees as liberal bias in the media.

In a switch for Mr. Bozell, who once was president of the now-defunct National Conservative Political Action Committee and is a nephew of National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr., he said he consciously tried to give PTC a broad appeal by making it nonpartisan.

To some extent, it can be argued that he succeeded. Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., once served on PTC's advisory board. Sen. Brownback is still a member.

But the ultimate secret to PTC's success, according to Mr. Bozell, was that it tapped into a sense of outrage over TV programming.

"We didn't create the outrage," Mr. Bozell said. "The outrage has been out there for years."

Mr. Bozell credits a PTC newspaper advertising campaign during the late 1990s for putting his group on the map.

The full-page newspaper ad, featuring the late entertainer Steve Allen, appealed to the public's concerns about programming quality. Before the ad was dropped in 2000, it ran more than 1,350 times, and brought more than 500,000 members to PTC's fold, Mr. Bozell said.

"We just woke a sleeping giant," he said.

The exposure of Janet Jackson's breast during CBS's coverage of the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show helped fuel the flames.

"What happened on the Janet Jackson episode is that all of America-given the venue-saw how bad the situation had become, that a network would countenance a striptease on the Super Bowl," Mr. Bozell said. "There was just no containing the outrage at that point."

Industry officials fear the organization's campaign may be doing irreparable harm to First Amendment values.

"They want, in my judgment, to impose their views of what they think of right and wrong on other people," Mr. Valenti said.

"We're entering a Bozellian world where a few will make a decision about what we all see on television," said TV Watch's Mr. Dyke.

But Mr. Bozell, who has five children and describes himself as a Civil War buff and a fan of bullfights, said that PTC's success is ultimately based on support from the public.

"From day one, it was a David-versus-Goliath thing, little old us against a multibillion-dollar industry," he said. 96

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FCC "Whitewashing" Blues, Says Scorsese

FCC `Whitewashing' Blues, Says Scorsese
From Broadcasting & Cable, May 8, 2006
By John Eggerton

Producer-director Martin Scorsese told the FCC Friday that profanity was integral to the language of his TV documentary and that to censor it would "strip the documentary of its essential authenticity and historical accuracy."

Saying it reflected his "deep concern over the adverse impact" the FCC's fining of his Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues PBS series would have on "the creative process generally and, more specifically, on the ability and willingness of filmmakers to produce authentic documentaries and other valuable programming for presentation on broadcast television," Scorsese Friday weighed into the TV indecency fight.

It came in the form of a sworn statement, part of a massive filing to the FCC by the San Mateo Community College District, licensee of KCSM-TV San Mateo, Calif. (San Francisco).

Coincidentally, Scorsese's defense came the same day that Patrick Maines, head of the media company-backed Washington First Amendment think tank, The Media Institute, called for Hollywood, among others, to step up and make themselves heard on the issue of indecency.

KCSM-TV was one of the stations fined for profanity in the FCC's March release of almost a dozen proposed indecency findings against TV stations for sex and language. The station challenged the $15,000 fine, saying it was unconstitutional and calling into question the underpinnings of indecency regulation in general.

Scorsese was specifically defending the Godfathers and Sons installment of his series, directed by Marc Levin, whose broadcast on KCSM was fined for its use of the f- and s-words.

"The language of blues musicians often was filled with expletives that shocked and challenged America's white dominated society of the forties, fifties and sixties," he told the commission.

"To accurately capture the essential character of the blues music and the subculture in which it originated and flourished, it was important to preserve in the film the actual speech and discursive formations of the participants," he said. To do otherwise, would be "`whitewashing' the blues."

Scorsese also objected to relegating the show to the 10 p.m.-6 a.m. hours during which profanity and adult sexuality are protected from FCC fines. "Our mutual artistic objective of broadly sharing an accurate depiction of one of the few uniquely American art forms will be severely undermined if the Commission limits broadcast of the film to hours when viewership is lowest," he argued.

If the FCC fine stands, he warned, "it will produce a chilling effect on similar creative enterprises, depriving the American public of valuable educational programming."

The networks and their station groups have filed suit against the FCC over some of its indecency findings for profanity, saying they are unconstitutional.

CBS-owned stations have also challenged their fine for an episode of Without a Trace, saying the FCC was straying into content calls it had no business making and was magnifying the online "heckling" of groups like the Parent's Television Council, which files huge numbers of indecency complaints, into a mandate for content regulation.

This article is from Broadcasting & Cable. If you found it informative and valuable, we strongly encourage you to visit their website and register an account to view all their articles on the web. Support quality journalism.

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