We Need You To Help Prevent Cable Companies From Sticking It To Us (Again)



Public Access.  Remember that?

     By 1980 the briefly dangled prize of access to the means of broadcast production was yoinked from us by the Supreme Court.

In fact, the decision to treat cable companies (greedy fuckers then as now) as "persons" made their content  suddenly arguably inalienable, an expression protected by the First Amendment. This became the foundation for a quick legal victory over the newly invented digital Commons, now quickly disappearing behind corporate fences:








Federal mandate by the FCC
Hundreds of Public-access television production facilities were launched in the 1970s after the Federal Communications Commission ... required all cable systems in the top 100 U.S. television markets to offer three access-channels, one each for public, educational, and local government use. The rule was amended in 1976 to require that cable systems in communities with 3,500 or more subscribers set aside up to 4 cable TV channels and provide access to equipment and studios for use by the public.

Midwest Video decisions
Cable companies saw this regulation as an unlawful intrusion by the federal government into their business practices, and immediately started challenging the legality of these new rules.... In 1979 the U.S. Supreme Court... explicitly rejected the notion that cable companies were "common carriers", meaning that all persons must be provided carriage. Instead, the Supreme Court took the stance that cable companies were private persons under the law with First Amendment to the United States Constitution rights, and that the requirement for Public-access television was in fact a burden on these free speech rights.
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Public Access Television evaporated.


It started with John Oliver's now-hopefully-famous rant against cable company attempts to handicap – kneecap is a better word – the free flow of data that is the Internet, to cause the Gods of Internet Data to 'play favorites.'

BoingBoing called his presentation of The Undeniable Righteous Truth (my description) incandescent.  Here it is in case you missed it – in service to the public good, a fair use of media to preserve a necessary piece of the historical record:


video

I have personally subjected as many people as I could to this inspiring tirade, laughing every time.  Then I realized I had not yet filed.  If this has happened to you as well, please, I beseech you, Gentle Readers all, to lose no time.  




Here is my filed comment, in which you may find perhaps inspiration, hopeful entertainment, or by which may come by renewed enthusiasm.


the internet is the most precious resource the human race has at present.  to sell its effectiveness out for the equivalent of thirty pieces of silver -- that, to follow the metaphor, can only be used in cable company vending machines -- is obscene. 

this must not happen.  it is a mistake, and making such mistakes is a habit which we must at long last learn to break.

YOU KNOW THAT.

if you are in favor of this anti-freedom, monopolistic, conniving attempt to hobble the free flow of ideas and information, you probably have convinced yourself that it will not be that bad; secretly you must be sure that it will not affect you, your children, or their children.  

YOU ARE WRONG.  

it will be that bad: in sponsoring targeted, filtered information, corporations (which are not, by the way, people) quickly diverge as far as is possible from Honesty. this is easily demonstrated with even a cursory study of advertising.  

witness what little the corporate cookie cutter media reveals, and more importantly, the important, fundamental information it hides. the issues, crucial to our well being, attention from which the corporate machine would rather distract. such as this one. 

ethics can be deduced from observation: any corporation enjoying power over the market (and, it soon follows, the government) cannot, it appears, help but make continual attempts to strangle in their respective cribs any infant competition it sees or imagines arising to threaten its hegemony.

the fact that this de facto proves that such power is not founded on what is best for the people it serves is of little consolation.

THIS CAN NOT BE EMPHASIZED ENOUGH: 

the innovation of individuals is what drives our economy, is the engine of progress.  without it there will be no prosperity.  access to a free and open internet is crucial. 

PLEASE REREAD THE ABOVE PARAGRAPH.  please get it though your heads.  there is not enough money in the world, even in derivatives, to pay for what we will lose if legislation for a tiered Internet is passed. 

thank you for requesting my opinion, and have a nice day.




It must be noted that the day after this aired the site was briefly offline, which many chalked up to the success of Oliver's rant. BoingBoing, however, hints that this may have been a DDOS attack -- and I tend to agree with them. Qui bono? Perhaps they expect us to forget, after a day has passed, that we wanted our Internet alive and well? I should hope not! Let us demonstrate. Show this video to everyone you can. Then sit them in front of your personal computing device, and do whatever you feel is appropriate for the cause. The more comments, the better, by far.

That link again?  http://fcc.gov/comments.  Lazy?  Here it is; right-click if you want it in a new tab:



But whatever you do, do get to it: comment on as much as you can possibly make time for.  It is that important. Thank you. Be seeing you.