Net Neutrality Anything But Sensible and Limited (Says Free Press?)

by Mike Wendy on September 20, 2010

Free Press’ Tim Karr has got some ‘splaining to do. 

The other day Karr was all excited about a new letter from American Public Media to the FCC – one which advances the Free Press’ radical, er, “sensible” Net Neutrality agenda.

APM has some expansive ideas about the Internet, and Tim Karr apparently approves.        

A month ago, however, we heard a different story from those at the Free Press.  You may recall at that time the FCC was getting some heat for its failed attempts to broker a Net Neutrality settlement.  And then came the Google / Verizon bombshell, which sent the whole Professional Left sideways, apoplectic over Google’s apparent Net Neutrality apostasy.  Consequently, all bets were off.

Perhaps to give some cover to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the Free Press was quoted as supportive of the Chairman’s so-called “limited,” “Third Way” plan to reclassify broadband.  Said the Free Press in Broadcasting & Cable on August 12th:

“Sensible” and “limited” is how Free Press described the FCC’s proposal to reclassify broadband access under Title II common carrier regs.

In reply comments on the FCC’s so-called “third way” proposal, Free Press ticks off what they say are critical flaws in the rhetorical arguments of its opponents. Those include that they overstate the scope and impact of “limited” Title II classification. The FCC is only planning to apply a handful (six or seven) of the Title II regs while forbearing (not applying the rest), that they overestimate its affect on investment in broadband, that the purported legal hurdles are easily addressed and dismissed.  

Seems the APM letter, glued to the Free Press by Karr’s endorsement, blows Free Press’ claims out of the water. Check out a couple of these unlimited APM lines (I’ve emphasized some of the mandates):

…User demand governs the capacity being used for a specific application or program and thus the cost to the producer. Therefore, whether wireless or wireline, the FCC should require ISPs that develop private broadband networks carry all relevant applications and programming from Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) qualified public service media organizations at no cost to the content producer. This will allow consumer preference to determine what fraction of network capacity is set aside for public service content.

For example, proprietary digital audio networks would be required to carry programming and applications from American Public Media, National Public Radio and Public Radio International as well as content and programming from local public radio stations. On-demand HD video services would be required to carry PBS applications serving content from such programs as Frontline, Masterpiece and PBS Kids as well as local public television content

The rules that ensure a diversity of voices, ongoing innovation, and competition in wireline broadband must extend to mobile networks as well.  Public media’s largest audiences in ten years will be in automobiles with mobile Internet “radios”. Those audiences must have access to the same diversity of programming, with a manageable cost structure, as they now have available as broadcast and wireline broadband users…

 APM basically asks the Commission to unhinge its “limited” plan.  In other words, it’s precisely the opposite of “limited” as sold by the Chairman and Free Press.  I guess APM didn’t understand Julius’ circumspect proposal. 

Or, did they?    

Sadly, APM is just one of many beggar groups, all holding their hands out for special treatment.  They’re emboldened by the fact that “limited” has become secret code for “open up the floodgates,” signaling a feeding frenzy for the special interest crowd.   This explains Tim Karr’s elation.  It’s what he and the Free Press have wanted all along.  “Sensible” and “limited” becomes anything but.  It becomes a recipe to take over the Internet via stifling, 19th Century regulations, wielded by a Doublespeak Commission.  

No ‘splaining necessary for that Cheshire Cat smile, Tim.  I’d be smiling, too, if I could change the Oxford Dictionary as successfully as you have.

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