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So Big Corporations Don’t Take Control of the Web, FCC Outlines Actions To Preserve The Free And Open Internet September 21, 2009

Posted by David W. King in Uncategorized.
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Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined the concrete actions he believes the Commission must take to preserve the free and open Internet at a speech at The Brookings Institution.

“The Internet is an extraordinaryplatform for innovation, job creation, investment, and opportunity. It has unleashed the potential of entrepreneurs and enabled the launch and growth of small businesses across America,” said Chairman Genachowski. “It is vital that we safeguard the free and open Internet.”

The Commission previouslyembraced four open Internet principles affirming that consumers must be able to access the lawful Internet content, applications, and services of their choice, and attach non-harmful devices to the network. These four principles guide the FCC’s existing case- by-case enforcement of communications law.

In today’s speech, Chairman Genachowski proposed the addition of two new principles. The first would prevent Internet access providers from discriminating against particular Internet content or applications, while allowing for reasonable network management. The second principle would ensure that Internet access providers are transparent about the network management practices theyimplement. The Chairman also proposed clarifying that all six principles applyto all platforms that access the Internet.

Chairman Genachowski will seek to begin the process of codifying the Commission’s existing four open Internet principles, along with the two additional principles, through a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) at the October meeting. The NPRM will ask for input and feedback on the proposed rules and their application, such as how to determine whether network management practices are reasonable, what information broadband providers should disclose about their network management practices and how the rules apply to differing platforms, including mobile Internet access services.

“I look forward to working with my Commission colleagues on this important initiative,” Chairman Genachowski said. “Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn, and Baker each bring a unique and important perspective to the complex issues at stake and I look forward to getting their input and insight when we kick-off the rulemaking process next month.” As part of Chairman Genachowski’s commitment to openness and transparency, the FCC launched a new website, http://www.openInternet.gov to encourage public participation.

For more information:
http://www.openInternet.gov

musicFIRST FCC Petition Gains Broad Support September 12, 2009

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A broad range of organizations, including the Property Rights Alliance, the National Consumers League, Free Press, the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFL-CIO), the Parents Television Council, The Recording Academy, the Music Managers Forum, the Institute for Policy Innovation, the American Association of Independent Music, and individual music managers have filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in support of the musicFIRST Coalition’s request that the FCC investigate radio broadcasters.

In comparison, only one organization not aligned with the broadcasting industry filed comments in support of broadcasters.

musicFIRST’s request to the commission details how radio stations across the country refuse to air musicFIRST ads, threaten artists who support the effort to create a fair performance right on radio and continue to run misleading ads produced by the National Association of Broadcasters — all in an effort to further their own private commercial interests at the expense of their public interest obligations.

musicFIRST asked the FCC to investigate these activities. musicFIRST also encouraged the FCC to consider reducing the radio broadcast license term, currently seven years, to hold broadcasters accountable for violations of their public interest obligations.

“We are grateful to have broad-based support from consumer, property rights and media advocacy organizations and the music community for an investigation of radio,” Bendall said.

“Broadcasters enjoy broad First Amendment rights, but they can’t punish artists for exercising their First Amendment rights, too.”

Broadcasters are taking these actions solely to further their own economic interests. It cannot be in the public interest for broadcasters to use a public resource in this manner.”

Irony was a pointed theme in comments filed by The Property Rights Alliance. The group told the commission that it supports the Performance Rights Act and then says about radio’s efforts to silence artists, “under current law, broadcasters should not boycott artists for joining a coalition, especially given the fact they are currently using the artists’ music for free.”

Free Press notes that “broadcasters are licensed to operate in the public interest – not pure self interest.”

“We respect a broadcaster’s right to oppose the Performance Rights Act. But we cannot tolerate broadcasters’ use of the public airwaves to stifle debate, threaten artists and musicians and undermine the public interest in pursuit of their narrow, private business interests.”

FCC Probes Corporate Radio’s Misdeeds September 12, 2009

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The Federal Communications Commission has received comments on a petition filed by the musicFIRST Coalition.

The petition details how radio stations across the country refuse to air musicFIRST ads, threaten artists who support the effort to create a fair performance right on radio and continue to run misleading ads produced by the National Association of Broadcasters – all in an effort to further their own private commercial interests at the expense of their public interest obligations.

Comments to be filed by the Music Managers Forum, a member of musicFIRST, include an e-mail sent by college radio station to WICB in Ithaca, New York, to Aimee Mann’s online message board. “The e-mail is clear,” said Jennifer Bendall, executive director of the musicFIRST Coalition. “WICB dropped Aimee Mann because she supports the effort to create a fair performance right on radio.”

“Like other radio stations, WICB dropped Aimee Mann and ‘any other musicFIRST supporters.’ It is a sad day when a licensed radio station affiliated with a major college punishes artists for exercising their First Amendment Rights.”

Under the provisions of the Performance Rights Act, college and other non-commercial radio stations will pay just $500 or $1,000 a year to clear the performance rights for all the music they use.

“Broadcasters enjoy broad First Amendment rights,” Bendall said, “but they can’t punish artists for exercising their First Amendment rights, too. It’s about radio’s bottom line.”

Radio stations must ensure that their private interests, including their private financial interests, do not interfere with their obligation to serve the public. According to the musicFIRST filing, one major radio group dropped a top selling artist’s record after he spoke in support of performance rights legislation. The program director of a Florida radio station declined to add an artist’s recordings to his station’s playlist because the artist is listed as a member of the musicFIRST Coalition. musicFIRST is asking the FCC find that the stations have violated their public interest obligations and consider the broadcasters’ malfeasance in connection with their license renewal.

“We respect a broadcaster’s right to oppose the Performance Rights Act. AM and FM music radio stations earn billions in advertising revenue every year without compensating the artists and musicians who bring music to life and listeners ears to the radio dial. Every other radio platform – internet radio, satellite radio and cable TV music channels – pay a fair performance royalty. And AM and FM music radio stations that stream their over-the-air signal online pay a fair performance royalty for the online program.”

Artists and musicians also enjoy a radio performance right in almost every other country in the world. Countries without a radio performance right include China, Iran, North Korea, Rwanda and the U.S.

FCC Seeks Comments On MusicFIRST Petition August 16, 2009

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The Federal Communications Commission is seeking comments on the petition filed by the musicFIRST Coalition. The petition details how radio stations across the country refuse to air musicFIRST ads, threaten artists who support the effort to create a fair performance right on radio and continue to run misleading ads produced by the National Association of Broadcasters – all in an effort to further their own private commercial interests at the expense of their public interest obligations.

“We are pleased that the FCC has taken the first step in response to the musicFIRST petition,” said Jennifer Bendall, executive director of the musicFIRST Coalition. “Since we filed the petition in June, corporate radio’s spokespersons have not only confirmed the charges made in the petition, but boasted that they will continue to use the public airwaves to misinform policy makers and the public and punish artists and musicians for speaking out in support of a fair performance right on radio while refusing to run musicFIRST’s ads.”

The FCC is seeking comment on these actions and, according to the FCC notice, “whether and to what extent broadcasters are engaging in a media campaign, coordinated by NAB [National Association of Broadcasters], which disseminates falsities about the PRA [Performance Rights Act].”