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New FCC Commissioner Clyburn Not The Pushover Some Expected
Clyburn fights for minority broadband rights, discovers minority astroturf
by Karl Bode 03:06PM Monday Jan 25 2010
We've long discussed how companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast frequently use artificial consumer-advocacy groups to argue in favor of frequently anti-consumer corporate policy positions. But these companies' lobbyists also frequently do something called "co-opting," which involves donating money to existing groups in exchange for that group parroting AT&T or Verizon policy positions. This often results in groups like the National Association For the Deaf supporting policies that frequently aren't in the best interest of the deaf, including laws advocating for the "cherry picking" of next-generation broadband services.

These faux consumer groups and co-opted legitimate groups, combined with paid lobbyists, think tanks, fake grass roots (astroturf) and other PR mechanisms, collectively form a sort of policy sound wall in Washington and in the news media. The goal is to create the illusion of a wide variety of public and (pseudo) scientific support for policies that often have very negative consequences, with one or two companies controlling the message. Minority, disability groups and even corn farmers are often used as part of this process, lending an air of humanist legitimacy to the latest telecom lobbying effort.


This is why you'll see groups like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) or the Arkansas Retired Seniors Coalition coming out in favor of bad laws written by telecom companies. It's also why you'll see groups supposedly dedicated to civil rights suddenly supporting Comcast in their fight against network neutrality.

With all of this as a backdrop, it's interesting to see new FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, with her focus on minority media ownership, discovering the dirtier aspects of telecom lobbying. Speaking Friday at the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council's Social Justice summit (see transcript (pdf)), Clyburn spoke to the obvious benefit unfettered broadband access brings to marginalized communities. She also politely observed how many civil rights groups weren't focusing on the core broadband availability issues facing minorities:
quote:
To my surprise, most of the filings submitted and public statements issued by some of the leading groups representing people of color on this matter have been silent on this make-or-break issue. There has been almost no discussion of how important – how essential – it is for traditionally underrepresented groups to maintain the low barriers to entry that our current open Internet provides.
Clyburn shouldn't be surprised. Many of these groups are silent on issues of substance for minorities because they've been co-opted by major carriers. The lure of cash contribution long ago overshadowed any substantive interest in standing up for their constituents in the field of technology. You'll recall that even former FCC boss Kevin Martin admitted as much, having had his wrist slapped in 2007 for pointing out that civil rights groups were being used by giant telecom companies as puppets on technology policy. As with many of these unethical lobbying efforts, it says volumes that few people really noticed.

Combined with her recent run in with Verizon over the carrier's phantom $2 fee scam, Clyburn's comments seem to indicate she's not going to be quite the FCC pushover some consumer advocates and progressives had predicted. You'll recall there was ample worry that Clyburn's stint as a South Carolinia regulator hinted at a strong fondness for AT&T. She has much to prove, but so far she's asking all the right questions. At the very least, she's going to deliver some much needed genuine (for once) minority input into the FCC's new effort to craft network neutrality guidelines.

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roc5955
Premium
join:2005-11-26
Rosendale, NY

Good!

Maybe she can pull the .org from these astroturf groups domains.

Then go after the Clear Channels and Fox Broadcastings who want to take over all the local airwaves, newspapers and tv stations.

Maybe there is still hope for the Media Ownership Reform Act. »www.house.gov/hinchey/issues/mora.shtml
--
"Understanding is a three-edged sword."
Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
Eustis, FL
kudos:1

Re: Good!

Unfortunately the Supreme Court has demonstrated that that they can be so right that they are wrong. I wonder if some of the Supreme Courts Justices noses have turned brown from kissing the butts of corporate America. They should have called their decision "The Let Corporations Buy A Lawmaker Decision". If a corporation opposes a law they can now directly buy a lawmaker rather than bribe them indirectly. The Supreme Court decision will make it a lot easier for corporations to undo the Media Ownership Reform Act if it is passed.
hottboiinnc
ME

join:2003-10-15
Cleveland, OH
You can always start a low powered Radio Station.

Clear Channel got the way they did because they have the $$$$ that media companies tend to have. Fox got to be the same way along with CBS. Ever heard of CBS Advertising? CBS Radio?

You are NOT ever going to get rid of Clear Channel Media or Fox.
--
www.two-pugs.com www.twopugsbrand.com
Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
Eustis, FL
kudos:1

Let's hope this causes the ISP weasels heartburn!

We had Eight Years of jerking around of by the ISP's lawmaking sock puppets. Hopefully the ISP weasels will get a good jerking around by the FCC!

pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD

Re: Let's hope this causes the ISP weasels heartburn!

said by Mr Matt:

We had Eight Years of jerking around of by the ISP's lawmaking sock puppets. Hopefully the ISP weasels will get a good jerking around by the FCC!
Really, they were that bad?

I would presume that the percentage of people in the USA who could get broadband on 01/20/2009 is far, far greater than it was on 01/20/2001. Almost all of that was done with private money in a relatively unregulated market and most of that investment came about after regulations were loosened. How is all of that "bad" by any measure?
--
"Net Neutrality" zealots - the people you can thank for your capped Internet service.

Corehhi

join:2002-01-28
Bluffton, SC

NAACP is such a sell out

Their time has come and gone but the organization with high paying jobs still exists. Got to make money some how to keep the show going. LOL>
Sammer

join:2005-12-22
Canonsburg, PA

Re: NAACP is such a sell out

Some blacks call them "the clan with the tan".

RARPSL

join:1999-12-08
Suffern, NY

She Talks the Talk but will it have any effect?

While it is nice to see her raise these issues, the real outcome will be if the other 4 on the commission listen to her or just go on with business as usual. Just because she has said something does not mean anything about her not being a pushover. Her comments could still have been issued by the type of commissioner that everyone expected since unless things change, it is all for show not about making changes/a-difference.

Congress is full of this type of behavior. A Congresscritter knows that a bill will pass/not pass (an action that they agree with) but they talk the other stance for show since their voting the other way will have no effect on the outcome yet they can claim that they supported the losing side to the folks back home.

winsyrstrife
River City Bounce
Premium
join:2002-04-30
Brooklyn, NY

Watch out for "unfortunate incidents"

"Commissioner Clyburn, in an amazing freak of nature incident, was simultaneously struck by a falling piano, run over by an out of control vehicle, and strangled by a one-armed man, earlier this evening."

ptrowski
Got Helix?
Premium
join:2005-03-14
Putnam, CT
kudos:4

Re: Watch out for "unfortunate incidents"

said by winsyrstrife:

"Commissioner Clyburn, in an amazing freak of nature incident, was simultaneously struck by a falling piano, run over by an out of control vehicle, and strangled by a one-armed man, earlier this evening."
"...all within the confines of her closet while she was picking out a new shirt. Police can't explain where the piano came from...."
--
"So, Lone Starr, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb."

Have you been touched by his noodly appendage? »www.venganza.org

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:38

1 recommendation

Re: Watch out for "unfortunate incidents"

I have little doubt that there are corporations who kill people if they get in the way of a significant profit, though I doubt that vaguely noticing that minority groups have been hijacked to regurgitate telecom talking points qualifies....

I mean if that was the standard, I would have been killed back in 2004 if not earlier.
BosstonesOwn

join:2002-12-15
Wakefield, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Watch out for "unfortunate incidents"

We would have if you left your house ! The damn van ran out of gas out there idleing for weeks waiting for you to come out !

You are costing us profits Karl....

Joking aside , I don't think you cost them enough just yet.
--
"It's always funny until someone gets hurt......and then it's absolutely friggin' hysterical!"

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5
said by winsyrstrife:

"Commissioner Clyburn, in an amazing freak of nature incident, was simultaneously struck by a falling piano, run over by an out of control vehicle, and strangled by a one-armed man, earlier this evening."
Skeletons in the closet(as most have) is a much easier way to convince people to play ball. And in Clyburn's case a father who is a long time congresscritter makes the potential to leverage past behavior even more possible.
--
My BLOG .. .. Internet News .. .. My Web Page


pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD

Huh?

"Minority broadband rights?" What is that supposed to mean?

Are there broadband ISPS out there which actively disallow members of certain minority groups from purchasing service simply because they are members of said groups?
--
"Net Neutrality" zealots - the people you can thank for your capped Internet service.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:38

Re: Huh?

No. Not currently. Is that the only question you had?

pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD

Re: Huh?

said by Karl Bode:

No. Not currently. Is that the only question you had?
No, my first question inquired about what "minority broadband rights" are.
--
"Net Neutrality" zealots - the people you can thank for your capped Internet service.

toddbs98

join:2000-07-08
North Little Rock, AR

1 recommendation

Everything is about race,even when race has nothing to do with an issue.
patcat88

join:2002-04-05
Jamaica, NY
kudos:1

1 recommendation

said by pnh102:

"Minority broadband rights?" What is that supposed to mean?

Are there broadband ISPS out there which actively disallow members of certain minority groups from purchasing service simply because they are members of said groups?
No, it means free broadband for anyone who has no W2 reportable income qualifies for welfare programs. The level of myspace profiles and annoying cellphone ringtones clearly show minorities have no problems with access to technology.
SuperWISP

join:2007-04-17
Laramie, WY

"Network neutrality" regulation truly would hurt minorities.

Legitimate minority organizations are justifiably concerned that the needless regulations would deter deployment, increase costs, lower quality of service, and widen the digital divide. See

»www.blackweb20.com/2010/01/18/mi···nd-plan/

Z80A
Premium
join:2009-11-23

Re: "Network neutrality" regulation truly would hurt minorities.

It would do nothing of the kind other than prevent ISPs from starting to charge twice for content delivery and stop them from abusing their market position to defend their other core business (like voice and video) from innovative and superior competitors.

Any provider who can't mange a profit without draconian network management should go find another line of work.
SuperWISP

join:2007-04-17
Laramie, WY

Re: "Network neutrality" regulation truly would hurt minorities.

Actually, it's the rules that would be Draconian.
SuperWISP

join:2007-04-17
Laramie, WY

Another group of concerned minorities

Here's another article about a group of minority elected officials who are very concerned about NN:

»www.blackweb20.com/2010/01/22/el···d-rules/

linicx
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2002-12-03
United State
Reviews:
·TracFone Wireless
·CenturyLink

Underserved minorities?

What are you talking about?

The most under-served is black, white, red, brown and yellow Americans who live 50 miles from a decent hospital, 40 from a local cable provider and no where near any national provider. If you think 1.5 is baaad then you haven't lived yet.

I loved the national telco that advertised 1.5; delivered 512; and bragged in the company brochure the high-speed broadband was 10x faster than dialup based on the 28.8 modem. It hasn't been a standard for at least 15 years or longer. It was my first modem and I've lived in rural America for almost 30 years. .

While the BIG boys are rolling out 50-100Mbps in NYC and 4G for cell; I can't get and I can't use it: no provider, no towers, and sub-standard medical care delivered by a hospital board that cares less if patients live or die.

Don't boo-hoo about minorities, 'cause in rural America, we are all a minority.
--
Mac: No windows, No Gates, Apple inside