If you were around in the 80s, you might be experiencing a horrible flashback right about now.
No, it’s not because legwarmers and spandex are in style again. It’s because AT&T, that monopoly that once lorded over your rotary phone, has resurfaced with a scheme to rule your mobile phone as well.
Back in the 80s, AT&T’s power was near absolute. That’s why government regulators stepped in to break it up and protect the American people against abuse.
Now, with AT&T’s planned $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile, we’re reaching the danger point again.
Unless the FCC rejects this merger, Americans stand to lose control over the future of communications.
That’s why so many have already flooded the FCC with comments since news of this outrageous merger became public. And that’s why we need you to speak out again today.
We can’t let just two companies – AT&T and Verizon – control nearly 80 percent of the mobile marketplace. If the FCC rubber-stamps this deal, we’ll be giving these companies unchecked power — at our expense.
That means you’ll be paying more to have AT&T drop your calls; and access to popular applications like Skype, Slingbox and Google Earth will be limited even further … if AT&T lets you use them at all.
FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker is leaving the FCC to become a lobbyist for Comcast – just four months after she voted to approve the Comcast-NBC merger.1
This is just the latest – but perhaps most blatant — example of so-called "public servants" cashing in on companies they are supposed to be regulating. But Baker’s jump to Comcast is particularly egregious. As recently as March, the commissioner was giving speeches complaining that the Comcast-NBC deal "took too long."
And you wonder why the American people are disgusted with Washington.
Congress is already concerned about how the FCC conducts itself. Rep. Darrell Issa, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been making a lot of noise recently about alleged ethical violations at the agency. By signing this letter
to Congressman Issa, you’re urging him to launch an investigation of Commissioner Baker’s seemingly blatant conflict of interest.
Outside of Washington, people of every political stripe have expressed near unanimous contempt for a system of government that favors powerful corporations at the expense of the many. Sadly, the complete capture of government by industry barely raises an eyebrow inside the Beltway anymore. That’s why Congress needs to hear from you.
The decision was handed down moments ago,1 and you should be mad as hell.
The FCC just blessed the merger of Comcast, the nation’s largest cable and home Internet provider, with NBC Universal. The Justice Department approved the merger, too, leading to the unprecedented consolidation of media and Internet power in the hands of one company.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it. Wherever you live, the Comcast-NBC merger is a disaster.
Letting one company control the pipes and the content that flows over those pipes is a formula for abuse. Comcast-NBC could soon hike up rates, take away your favorite channels or even stop you from watching your favorite shows online. Comcast has already targeted Netflix and other companies that compete with its video and Internet offerings.
The merger lays waste to then-candidate Barack Obama‘s 2008 promise, when he said, “I strongly favor diversity of ownership of outlets and protection against the excessive concentration of power in the hands of any one corporation, interest or small group. I strongly believe that all citizens should be able to receive information from the broadest range of sources.”
We at Free Press believe that, too. But unlike the president and his FCC chairman, we’re not caving to corporate pressure. Free Press is working with our allies and activists to fight for more open, democratic and diverse media.
Here’s how you can help:
1. First, let Washington know that there are consequences to blessing this bad deal. You can tell everyone that this merger is a disaster by Tweeting
about it, spreading the word via Facebook, and sharing this e-mail with others.
so we can mobilize a broad coalition to stem the tide of new media mergers sure to follow in the wake of Comcast-NBC.
Today’s deal, combined with the FCC’s recent loophole-ridden, fake “Net Neutrality” rule, sets the stage for Comcast to turn the Internet into something that looks like cable TV. This administration has a long list of weak compromises to corporate lobbyists during its first two years. But today’s merger is particularly alarming.
You might be saying, “I’m not a Comcast customer, so I’m not worried.” But Comcast will jack up the prices that other cable and online distributors pay for NBCcontent, and you’ll pay higher prices — we promise.
You might be saying, “I can just get a new Internet provider if I don’t like it.”But there’s almost no broadband competition. And as TV, radio, phone and other services increasingly become Internet-based, cable will be the only connection that’s fast enough to deliver high-quality media and services to most Americans.
You might be saying, “Why should I care about a business deal between two giant companies?” But this merger is certain to be the first domino to fall in a series of mega-media mergers. The FCC’s blessing of Comcast-NBC will embolden companies like AT&T or Verizon to try to gobble up content providers like Disney and CBS, creating a new era of media consolidation where even fewer companies control the content you watch and all the ways you watch it.
The Comcast-NBC merger is truly catastrophic for the public, and for the future of media, technology and democracy.
We can’t let a few corporate giants control the flow of information in America. It’s time to get mad, but it’s also time to get involved.
This Tuesday is an important day in the fight to save the Internet.
As a source of innovation, an engine of our economy, and a forum for our political discourse, the Internet can only work if it’s a truly level playing field. Small businesses should have the same ability to reach customers as powerful corporations. A blogger should have the same ability to find an audience as a media conglomerate.
This principle is called “net neutrality” — and it’s under attack. Internet service giants like Comcast and Verizon want to offer premium and privileged access to the Internet for corporations who can afford to pay for it.
That’s why Tuesday is such an important day. The FCC will be meeting to discuss those regulations, and we must make sure that its members understand that allowing corporations to control the Internet is simply unacceptable.
Although Chairman Genachowski’s draft Order has not been made public, early reports make clear that it falls far short of protecting net neutrality.
For many Americans — particularly those who live in rural areas — the future of the Internet lies in mobile services. But the draft Order would effectively permit Internet providers to block lawful content, applications, and devices on mobile Internet connections.
Mobile networks like AT&T and Verizon Wireless would be able to shut off your access to content or applications for any reason. For instance, Verizon could prevent you from accessing Google Maps on your phone, forcing you to use their own mapping program, Verizon Navigator, even if it costs money to use and isn’t nearly as good. Or a mobile provider with a political agenda could prevent you from downloading an app that connects you with the Obama campaign (or, for that matter, a Tea Party group in your area).
It gets worse. The FCC has never before explicitly allowed discrimination on the Internet — but the draft Order takes a step backwards, merely stating that so-called “paid prioritization” (the creation of a “fast lane” for big corporations who can afford to pay for it) is cause for concern.
It sure is — but that’s exactly why the FCC should ban it. Instead, the draft Order would have the effect of actually relaxing restrictions on this kind of discrimination.
What’s more, even the protections that are established in the draft Order would be weak because it defines “broadband Internet access service” too narrowly, making it easy for powerful corporations to get around the rules.
Here’s what’s most troubling of all. Chairman Genachowski and President Obama — who nominated him — have argued convincingly that they support net neutrality.
But grassroots supporters of net neutrality are beginning to wonder if we’ve been had. Instead of proposing regulations that would truly protect net neutrality, reports indicate that Chairman Genachowski has been calling the CEOs of major Internet corporations seeking their public endorsement of this draft proposal, which would destroy it.
No chairman should be soliciting sign-off from the corporations that his agency is supposed to regulate — and no true advocate of a free and open Internet should be seeking the permission of large media conglomerates before issuing new rules.
After all, just look at Comcast — this Internet monolith has reportedly imposed a new, recurring fee on Level 3 Communications, the company slated to be the primary online delivery provider for Netflix. That’s the same Netflix that represents Comcast’s biggest competition in video services.
Imagine if Comcast customers couldn’t watch Netflix, but were limited only to Comcast’s Video On Demand service. Imagine if a cable news network could get its website to load faster on your computer than your favorite local political blog. Imagine if big corporations with their own agenda could decide who wins or loses online. The Internet as we know it would cease to exist.
That’s why net neutrality is the most important free speech issue of our time. And that’s why, this Tuesday, when the FCC meets to discuss this badly flawed proposal, I’ll be watching. If they approve it as is, I’ll be outraged. And you should be, too.