At last: a full Federal Communications Commission! After months of seemingly interminable delay (due to a confirmation process high-jacked for non-related purposes) a full complement of five Commissioners is now available to pursue the people’s business in communications. And serious business it is.
Our big story of the week comes from across the pond, in London Town where, for many months, regulators have been examining the business practices of one of the world’s largest media empires.
From the desk of
The public interest community and media reform movement suffered a major body blow today, when the Media Access Project (MAP) announced it will suspend operation next month. I personally have looked to my friend and colleague Andy Schwartzman for leadership and guidance on media policy issues for more than three decades. Under his tenure, MAP has been at the forefront of major telecommunications and media policy fights, always with the mission of representing the public interest.
Back in December 2011, Verizon Wireless and some of the largest cable TV companies in the US announced a transaction in which Verizon will pay the cable companies $3.6 billion for wireless spectrum. With that spectrum, Verizon can build what amounts to another LTE network parallel to its current 4G network at 700 MHZ.
From the desk of
Today I begin a monthly blog for the Benton Foundation. I’m excited about doing this and thank my friend Charles Benton for the opportunity to share my thoughts with Benton’s faithful readers.
American Hate Radio: How A Powerful Outlet For Democratic Discourse Has Deteriorated Into Hate, Racism and Extremism
For over a century we have used the radio waves to communicate with our neighbors. Even today radio remains the primary way that Americans consume media, reaching 93% of the American population on a weekly basis. Radio can be an excellent outlet for news, democratic discourse, community engagement and even life-saving emergency information, and, in many instances, it is just that.
By the end of this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to issue new rules aimed at reforming and modernizing the low-income Lifeline telephone program. The rules are expected to include many changes to the application process. It will also update the annual check-in which determines continued eligibility for the program.
Whether the FCC succeeds in this effort will depend on whether the reform order includes an extensive education and outreach component to explain the changes. Planning must start now.
The Federal Communications Commission is poised to reform and modernize the Lifeline phone program that was created to help low-income household afford phone service. The reform and modernization is expected to move the program beyond traditional landline service to better accommodate wireless phone service and to set a foundation to move to broadband access for poor people. Yet, the reform could also discriminate against the very people the program was designed to help.