Saturday, July 03, 2010

TELCOS Hate New FCC "Internet" Regs, Spend Beaucoup Bux To Defeat Them

Via the NYTimes (6/30/10):

One good measure of the intensity with which phone and cable companies dislike the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to extend its regulatory oversight over access to broadband Internet is the amount of money they are spending on political contributions.

Last month, 74 House (fucking) Democrats sent a letter to the F.C.C.’s chairman, Julius Genachowski, warning him “not to move forward with a proposal that undermines critically important investment in broadband and the jobs that come with it.” Rather than extend its authority over telecommunications networks to broadband under the 1996 Telecommunications Act, they demanded that the F.C.C. wait for Congress to pass specific legislation.

The message parroted views held by AT&T, Comcast and Verizon (Oh, yeah, they wanna fuck us!--W) — the biggest broadband service providers in the country. Comcast warned (Can you say "threatened?"--W) that the F.C.C.’s efforts could “chill investment and innovation.” Their executives and political action committees have been among the top 20 campaign contributors to 58 of the 74 lawmakers in the past two election cycles. (Apparently the other 16 signed on, on spec as it were--W)

As the F.C.C. proceeds with its plan to regulate broadband access, it seems likely we can expect more of this resistance from members of Congress.

Political contributions from AT&T in the current election cycle reached $2.6 million by May 16, on the way to exceeding the total in each of the last three elections. The company has contributed to the campaigns of every Republican and all but three Democrats on the subcommittee that deals with the Internet in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It has given money to more than half the members of the equivalent Senate panel.

Comcast has spent more than $2 million on campaign donations; Verizon has given $1.2 million. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association — the industry’s collective lobbying group — has spent about $1 million more. And just in case that isn’t persuasive enough of the ills of government regulation, telephone and cable companies spent $20.6 million lobbying the government in the first quarter of the year.

The Sunlight Foundation, which tracks industry lobbying, reported that cable and phone companies had 276 former government officials lobbying for them in the first quarter, including 18 former members of Congress and 48 former staffers of current members of Congress on committees with jurisdiction over the Internet. The list includes former staffers of at least six of the House Democrats who signed the letter to the F.C.C.

To us, it seems obvious that the Federal Communications Commission should extend its oversight to broadband, the most important telecommunications network of our time, to guarantee open, nondiscriminatory and competitive access and to protect consumers’ rights.

But reason is not always a match for money in Washington. The F.C.C. has a rough road ahead.
No Shit! Here's a more graphic representation of that possibility:

Free Press Campaign Director Timothy Karr issued the following statement:

“In Washington, money equals power, and with this tool, we can see how AT&T, Comcast and Verizon’s money is being used to kill public interest policies like Net Neutrality. Ultimately, their goal is to turn Washington against the common sense idea that the FCC should have a role in preserving the open Internet, protecting consumers’ rights and fostering universal access to broadband. If their misinformation campaign succeeds, the open and affordable Internet will be in serious danger.

“Industries spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on armies of lobbyists to defeat affordable health care, environmental protections, banking reform and countless other essential public interest protections. They secretly fund dozens of ‘astroturf’ front groups to parrot their talking points and create fake opposition to good public policy. Now they are strong-arming members of Congress to call sound communications policies a ‘government takeover of the Internet.’ It’s the same pattern with nearly every important issue, and it must stop.

“We can’t stand by while the big phone and cable companies try to kill the policies that we need to protect the Internet.”
As with all this stuff, there is no legal means to stop them or to revbers the path once the start.

No comments: