How the FCC Could Roll Back Hard Fought Civil Rights Advances

[Commentary] Last week the Federal Communications Commission, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, announced two orders that will be voted on later in Nov, which would roll back hard fought civil rights advances — at a time when our educational and economic opportunities, as well as political participation, are increasingly dependent upon communications infrastructure and technology. 

One proposal would gut Lifeline, the low-income subsidy program that, since 1985, has provided low-income communities with access to vital communications through subsidies for basic phone service. The FCC is now proposing to remove resellers from the program, thereby cutting off approximately 75 percent of current Lifeline recipients from support; imposing a budget cap; and adding administrative hurdles inhibiting competitive and innovative new providers from participating in the program and limiting Lifeline recipient participation. The FCC has also announced it will eliminate several rules promoting competition and diversity in the broadcast media, including a rule that prohibits ownership of a daily newspaper and a TV or radio station in the same market and another that prohibits one company from owning more than one of the top four TV stations in the same market. 

As policymakers debate how our nation should govern communications, we believe that issues such as more access to infrastructure, more diversity of owners and voices, and more tools to address economic opportunity should be front and center. When these policies fail, equal opportunity and democratic participation are compromised.

 


How the FCC Could Roll Back Hard Fought Civil Rights Advances