Monday, February 06, 2006
The Center for Creative Voices, a Washington, D.C.-based not-for-profit, reports in its February newsletter on the increasing control of Internet "pipes" by a shrinking number of companies. What are the implications for newspapers and other media when their voices must go through a pipe controlled by a competitor? Should the government prohibit discrimination in carriage based upon content?
Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2006 17:07:30 -0500 (EST)
From: Jonathan Rintels <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Creative Voices Newsletter
FULL POSTING AT:
All, below please find Creative Voices newsletter. Its been a busy few months, as you'll see below. We hope you find it informative and useful.
Creative Voices Demands Pro-Competitive, Pro-Diversity Conditions on Comcast, Time Warner Takeover of Adelphia
Creative Voices has joined the "Competition and Diversity Coalition on the Adelphia Transaction" (CADCAT), which calls on the FCC to protect consumers if Comcast and Time Warner are permitted to takeover Adelphia. Without significant conditions attached to that deal, Comcast and Time Warner Cable will control half of Americas cable homes and have an even tighter chokehold over regional and local markets, solidifying their gatekeeper power over television. Their market power is already so great that when they favor their own networks over independents, as they repeatedly do, the independents are out of business. Thus, they rob not just their own customers, but all Americans of independent and diverse voices and viewpoints. Without significant conditions, this takeover will make a mockery of Congresss goal of a level playing field in cable. It also has the potential to make both Comcast and Time Warner gatekeepers dominating the Internet, as they are two of the nation! s largest broadband Internet access providers (more on this in the next item).
Creative Voices' 65 page report, Cables Level Playing Field Not Level. No Field., is playing an important role in this fight. Recounting the real-life experiences and observations of top players in the cable business, including some of the pioneers who created the cable industry such as Leo Hindery, John Malone, Ted Turner, and Barry Diller, this report documents that the level playing field" required by law and regulation does not exist today in Americas cable industry. Instead, today's giant cable operators seek to control the content they distribute, whether they deliver it via cable television or broadband Internet. Not only does this endanger independent and diverse creative voices, it poses real threats to free speech, free expression, and, ultimately, democracy and culture. CVs report has received considerable press coverage, including two November columns in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Comcasts hometown paper!
The Internet: Open or Closed?
Broadband is rapidly taking over from slow dial-up telephone service as the way Americans access the Internet. But the rules governing broadband are very different. Big Cable and Telephone companies want to use these lax broadband rules to take over the Internet. Essentially, their plan is to charge not only their broadband consumer subscribers, but also the websites and services the consumer is trying to reach on the Internet -- like Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and any other website or web service. Those websites and services that pay these broadband gatekeepers higher fees will find it easier to reach consumers and vice versa; those that dont will receive discriminatory, slower service that is, if the gatekeeper even permits them to access its broadband customers.
You can see that this would quickly destroy the openness, neutrality, and freedom that we cherish with todays
Internet. Instead, it would create a closed walled garden proprietary Internet designed solely to maximize the
profits of the broadband provider. If we had this closed Internet, would two grad students who came up with a better
search engine ever have it adopted, without advertising and by word of mouth, by hundreds of millions of users? Would that better search engine ever have seen the light of day, let alone become Google?
As creative artists, weve seen this closed business model take over both broadcast television and, increasingly,
cable television. Been there, done that, and seen that it is extremely harmful to independence, diversity, creativity,
and free expression. Thats why we are fighting against that closed and concentrated model taking over the Internet, and turning the Net into just another cable TV system, albeit with more channels. For more on how this battle, oft termed Net Neutrality, affects creative media artists, see our article posted on our website, The Future Internet: Open or Closed?
Center for Creative Voices in Media
1220 L Street, N.W., Suite 100-494
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 448-1517 (voice)
(202) 318-9183 (fax)