Whose up for a summer of social activism on media and telecom policy? A show of hands please? What if I told you it would only take about 15 minutes using the equipment you are using to read this webpage?
I’ve pegged four FCC proceedings that will benefit enormously from an injection of real world information. My pitch letter for why you should care, along with links to summaries of the proceedings and instructions on how to file, given below.
Stay tuned . . .
Media Access Project has prepared summaries of four important FCC proceedings in which we would very much like to encourage public comments. Two of these proceedings, the Deployment of Broadband Services (aka The
Commission’s Section 706 Inquiry) and the Wireless Access public notice are already past the official comment dates. Nevertheless, we strongly urge concerned citizens and organizations to file comments in these proceedings. You can find copies of these summaries here.
It is a sad consequence of life that those with the greatest resources and sophistication to respond to these inquiries — or even be aware of them — are those incumbent interests best served by the status quo. As a consequence, the inquiry into whether advanced telecommunications services are timely deployed to all Americans is dominated not by citizens either enjoying or unable to access such services, but by the largest telephone and cable companies rushing to assure the Commission that its deregulatory policies are a great success and a boon to the American people. The wireless access proceeding has become dominated by commercial licensees and their equipment maker supporters urging the Commission to adopt policies favorable to licensed technologies at the expense of unlicensed technologies.
Worse, in those areas where the Commission practices willful ignorance — such as the state of competition in the cable market or the state of local service by radio and television broadcasters — it takes a very load noise from the public to get them to acknowledge the existence of a problem.
I particularly wish to urge people to file in the 11th Annual Assesment of the State of Competition in the Market for the Delivery of Video Programming. As part of the 1992 Cable Act, Congress ordered the FCC to conduct this annual assesment to determine what regulations Congress or the FCC must pass to protect consumers cable companies abusing their market power. Sadly, the FCC, bent on deregulation, has turned this annual assesment into an annual white wash. Every year, despite diligent documentation from a handful of citizen and consumer groups, the Commission concludes that competition for cable services is robust, prices are not spinning out of control, the public recieves high-quality and diverse news and entertainment, and that deregulation continues to work.
The FCC’s Annual Assesment has become such a travesty that when the General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, examined the cable industry in 2003, the GAO issued a special report to chastise the FCC for its poor methodology and lack of accuracy. You can find this GAO report here. This scathing review resulted in no changes in the FCC’s processes or analysis.
Only if citizens create a record impossible to ignore will the FCC be forced to take action. I urge everyone who can to take a few minutes of their time to tell the FCC what is happening in the real world outside the Washington Beltway, away from the soothing chorus in praise of the FCC’s status quo sung by industry lobbyists. Anyone with access to the internet can file comments at the FCC. MAP maintains a webpage that explains the FCC and the filing process on MAP’s website.
All of these materials are released under a Creative Commons Attribution and Non-Commercial License. Please distribute them as widely as possible.
Media Access Project