Seeing Issues Whole

Author: 

[Commentary] The Federal Communications Commission deals with a wide universe of issues. Licensed and unlicensed spectrum, wireline and wireless telecommunications, white spaces, broadband, satellites, auctions, international coordination and, of course, media, are at the top of the Commission’s agenda. A wide universe indeed -- but a universe nevertheless. FCC commissioners need to see this universe whole. We live in one vast communications ecosystem. What goes on in one part of this ecosystem has direct and often far-reaching consequences on its other parts. So when Comcast, on the heels of completing its acquisition of the huge NBC-Universal complex, announced recently that it now wants to take over Time Warner Cable, the nation’s second largest cable company, let’s realize that this is much, much more than just absorbing another cable company. Rather, this is extending the deep Comcast content/distribution foot-print over evermore markets across the nation. What’s at stake in this deal? It will impact all other areas, by raising cable bills and broadband prices beyond the cost-of-living index in the United States, and puts the concept of open Internet at grave peril. Which brings us to democracy; how is that at stake, you ask? If a handful of giant companies can favor their content over that of someone they compete with or they just don’t like; if these powerful few can dictate where we go and don’t go on the Internet; if they can prioritize content; if they can block sites they disfavor; if they can determine what news we see and what we won’t -- then how is our democracy benefitted?

[Copps served as a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission from May 2001 to December 2011. In 2012, he joined Common Cause to lead its Media and Democracy Reform Initiative]


Seeing Issues Whole