May
16
2013

The Supreme Court Is an Ass

The government attacking press freedom.

From Free Press's helpful explainer of the AP phone records scandal, noting the legal background: Smith v. Maryland — In this 1979 decision, the Supreme Court found that people have no expectation of privacy when it comes to the numbers they call because they understand it has to be transmitted through a third party (telephone company). Thus, the [Digital Media Law Project] notes,  "the government can obtain that information simply by issuing a subpoena to a telephone company or other third party." As Mr. Bumble says, "If the law supposes that, the law is a ass–a idiot." Everyone who wouldn't […]

Aug
29
2009

Way Cleared for More 'Excessive Media Consolidation'

On news that "today, a federal court threw out the Federal Communications Commission's rule to cap cable ownership at 30 percent," Free Press (8/28/09) comments "the rule served as an important consumer protection from media consolidation and growing cable cartels, and encouraged diversity in ownership in the cable industry." The media advocacy group's Ben Scott further calls it regrettable that the court tossed out an important public interest protection against excessive media consolidation. Congressional intent in the Cable Act of 1992 is very clear–the goals of federal policy in the cable industry are to promote competition, consumer choice and a […]

Aug
24
2009

Telecoms' 'Fake Grassroots' Push Net Misinformation

Diligent media reformers Free Press (8/19/09) have announced a nifty new "online interactive tool to expose phony grassroots groups hired by big phone and cable companies to advance their political agenda." They're talking about "'astroturf' organizations–many of which also work for the health insurance, energy and tobacco industries"– that "are mobilizing to spread misinformation about Network Neutrality and Internet policies." The group's graphic presentation "tracks the huge amounts of money that phone and cable companies spend on lobbyists and campaign contributions" and reveals the contradictory and dishonest claims about Net Neutrality and other issues from top industry executives; and it […]

Aug
05
2009

New Bill to Keep Internet Open, Discrimination-Free

Free Press's newest release (7/31/09) touts some fresh congressional legislation that "Would Protect Net Neutrality Once and for All." According to the media reform activists, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 "would protect Network Neutrality under the Communications Act, safeguarding the future of the open Internet and protecting Internet users from discrimination online." Policy director Ben Scott explains how the future of the Internet as we know it depends on maintaining freedom and openness online. This crucial legislation will help to ensure that the public–not big phone and cable companies–controls the fate of the Internet. The rules that govern […]

Jul
16
2009

Telecoms Rally Against 'Transformative' Internet Bill

Free Press campaign coordinator Misty Perez has sent out (7/15/09) a call to action in light of the astonishing figure that "in the first three months of 2009, the phone and cable industries spent at least $20 million to hire more than 400 lobbyists" in an effort to "push for policies that fatten phone and cable profits while leaving us with an Internet that is too expensive and too slow." Why their sense of urgency?: Right now, the FCC is crafting a national broadband plan that could fix our national broadband problem. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps called this plan "the […]

Jul
14
2009

Even Corporate News 'Isn't Just Another Commodity'

A Seattle Times op-ed column (7/4/09) by Free Press' Victor Pickard and Joseph Torres discussing the fact that "the public's changing media habits have eroded the newspaper industry's monopoly on the local ad market" describes the corporate response thus: "The big media companies are pressuring Congress to prop up their failed business models by allowing more media consolidation and relaxing antitrust laws so they can collude on new 'pay wall' and pricing schemes." Reaffirming that "despite the many shortcomings of newspapers, our democracy requires a free and vibrant press," Pickard and Torres still maintain that these shortsighted measures aren't the […]

Jun
19
2009

On AT&T's 'Arbitrary Intervention in the Open Internet'

Keeping up with corporate attempts to abuse new media technology, the activists at Free Press (6/18/09) have a new campaign pointing out exactly what's wrong with the fact that "AT&T is allowing Major League Baseball to stream video live to the iPhone on the carrier's 3G network, but is prohibiting other companies like SlingPlayer Mobile from doing the same": Last month, AT&T admitted to restricting the SlingPlayer Mobile iPhone application from streaming live on its 3G network, claiming the service would cause congestion. But now, the New York Times reports that Major League Baseball's live stream "will play regardless of […]

May
12
2009

'Saving the News' — and Democracy

Free Press' new report suggesting "how the government should respond to the current crisis in journalism"–"Saving the News: Toward a National Journalism Strategy" (5/12/09)–addresses both "short- and long-term strategies." Among their transformative ideas: New Ownership Structures. Encouraging the establishment of nonprofit and low-profit news organizations through tax-exempt and low-profit limited liability company (L3C) models. New Incentives. Creating tax incentives and revising bankruptcy laws to encourage local, diverse, nonprofit, low-profit and employee ownership. Journalism Jobs Program. Funding training and retraining for novice and veteran journalists in multimedia and investigative reporting. R&D Fund for Journalism Innovation. Investing in innovative projects and experimenting […]

Apr
29
2009

Laying to Rest the 'Bandwidth Bogeyman'

Free Press is welcoming (4/28/09) as "a long overdue step in the right direction" the news that "Cablevision announced plans to offer download speeds of 101Mbps and upload speeds of 15Mbps" without charging "usage caps or overage fees" to users. Research director S. Derek Turner explains that the plan does, however, beg the question why Cablevision can offer fast access with reportedly no caps or overage fees, when others claim such a plan would cause the sky to fall and an exaflood to break the Internet. We hope this new announcement will put an end to the bandwidth bogeyman. We […]

Mar
28
2009

Pelosi: More Corporatization for Failing News Corporations

Free Press' Craig Aaron and Joseph Torres (Guardian.co.uk, 3/26/09) promptly knock down the scary development in which Nancy Pelosi recently "asked attorney general Eric Holder to consider loosening antitrust laws to help out struggling newspapers by allowing more media mergers. Holder responded by saying he is open to revisiting the rules": Pelosi's request sounds innocuous at first–after all, struggling newspapers seem to need all the help they can get. But opening the door to more media consolidation is not the cure for the crisis in journalism. More of this bad medicine will only weaken reporting and worsen the health of […]