30 Issues: Internet and Broadcast Regulation

Friday, September 26, 2008

Today's segment is the first ever group-produced segment in our 30 Issues in 30 Days series! Check out the collaborative wiki page for this discussion here. City Council member, Gale Brewer (D- District 6, Upper West Side), previews her city council hearing on white spaces. Then, Rob Atkinson, founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, discusses the two presidential candidates' views on high tech issues. Then, Frank Pasquale, professor of law at Seton Hall and Daniel Ballon, Policy Fellow in Technology at the Pacific Research Institute, take a look at the question of net neutrality. Then, Philip Napoli, associate professor of Communications at Fordham University, reviews the history of broadcast deregulation.


Rob Atkinson, Daniel Ballon, Gale Brewer, Philip Napoli and Frank Pasquale

Comments [30]

Brett Glass

Several of the speakers on this program were not expert; they made serious misstatements of fact that went uncorrected. The same is true of the Wiki; even the basic definition of "network neutrality" was one that was supplied by lobbyists.

As a rural, independent Internet service provider whose business (and whose customers' access) is threatened by "network neutrality" regulation, I think that we should have been contacted and had a voice. May we have an opportunity to rebut on your show? Also see my comments on this subject before the FCC at --Brett Glass, LARIAT.NET

Sep. 28 2008 08:29 PM
Joshua Breitbart from Canal Street

Tony - Try moving your antenna closer to the window. If you're on the first floor or next to tall buildings, you may be out of luck. You could try a rooftop antenna or an amplifier.

Unfortunately, the government and National Association of Broadcasters public awareness campaign includes no mention of the need to adjust or upgrade antennas to get digital signals.

Sep. 26 2008 01:09 PM
seth from Long Island

The quantity and quality of questions on this thread cries out for a Presidential Debate on Science and Technology Issues.

Everyone who has posted comments here should contact the Commission on Prez Debates and urge them to hold such a debate.

Sep. 26 2008 12:16 PM
norman from NYC

It's a good thought experiment to have someone advocate for the extreme free market position, and that's why Brian got Pacific Research Institute for this session.

Be sure to check PRI's page on Sourcewatch for their funding sources.


* Altria
* ChevronTexaco
* Cypress Semiconductor
* Exxon Mobil Corporation
* Freedom Communications
* Microsoft
* Pfizer
* SBC (now AT&T)
* Verizon
* White House Writers Group

Sep. 26 2008 12:04 PM
BL Show from WNYC Studios

More information on the digital crossover:

-BL Show-

Sep. 26 2008 12:01 PM
tina from NYC

Please ask about the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. This is the real reason why we are switching to digital!

Sep. 26 2008 11:59 AM
O from Forest Hills

What is the fairness doctrine?

Sep. 26 2008 11:58 AM
Tony from NYC

I have purchased a 'box' and have set it up and this is what I find. Where the analog system allowed for fuzzy images but continuous sound, the new system breaks up fairly easily. And the sound goes too.

The reception button shows that I am only getting 50% signal strength. It was fine in analog, but it freezes, sometimes losing image for many seconds to minutes at a time in digital. The image may be better, but the pleasure of watching has been destroyed. Anyone else having this problem?

Sep. 26 2008 11:58 AM
Frank from Queens

McCain voted AGAINST the 1996 Telecom Act, not because he was anti-consolidation, however at the time he felt the proposed Act did not go far enough toward deregulating the telecom industries -- including broadcasting.

Sep. 26 2008 11:57 AM
Joshua Breitbart from Canal Street

I just got a text message saying Councilmember Brewer called me out on the air. What's up with that? Looking forward to the mp3 so I can hear for myself.

Sep. 26 2008 11:57 AM
Bob from Fairfield

I got a digital converter box and I get 1/5 the stations I did with analog, using the same antenna.

This is going to be a massive failure.

Sep. 26 2008 11:54 AM
Jay from manhattan

how can the government sell off pieces of the electromagnetic spectrum? What keeps them from selling off yellow?

Sep. 26 2008 11:54 AM
s from ringwood

Can someone answer my question? I can't find anything on the FCC site.
I have a radio that gets NY TV stations. Do I need a converter for that too?

Sep. 26 2008 11:53 AM


the point of my comment about the Internet being global and standards based was that ISPs OR separate GOVERNMENTS making their own rules can undermine the Internet.

by reading only part of the question you spun it in a way i did not intend and do not approve of.

i realize that long questions may need to be edited for time, but changing the meaning of comments strikes me as unfair.

wanna make your own point? write your own comments and take ownership!

[[BL Moderator Writes: Eric - apologies for only reading the first part of your comment and, yes, not getting the full meaning/context in. This was due to a technological glitch in getting the comment to Brian's screen. There was no intentionality behind it. Apologies.]]

Sep. 26 2008 11:53 AM

Daniel sounds like a tech-neocon...

You would think these guys would be satisfied with destroying the US banking system. Apparently, the Web works too well and must be deregulated.

Sep. 26 2008 11:50 AM
Ken from Brooklyn

An important point that no one has brought up is in regards to access to broadband Internet technology. We as consumers have already been paying for it over many years and do not reap any of the benefits. Telecommunication giants have been charging us but have failed to provide the service. This further proves that the "free market" does not necessarily bring better goods and services to the consumer.

Read more on this issue from the Nieman Watch Dog Group here...

And Brian what do your guests have to say about this important issue?

Sep. 26 2008 11:47 AM
rober from BK NY

This whole series of conversations seems to be ignoring the implications of what small steps the ISP's are taking already and their slow decent into the scenario that was scoffed earlier as "scare tactics". Make no mistake, ISP's are testing the waters and seeing how much they can get away with.

...and is it just me, or did he say "Prime G's" and not "fried cheese"? That seems to make more sense.

Sep. 26 2008 11:44 AM

This is so early Bush Administration.
Daniel Ballon, Policy Fellow in Technology at the Pacific Research Institute, is really boring.

What does he think about Global Warming and Bank regulation.

Does he smoke?

Sep. 26 2008 11:42 AM
Jesse from New York

Without Net Neutrality, I would not be able to listen to WNYC right now. I would be listening on line to someone who could pay my ISP for the right to stream. Its just that simple. Anti-trust would not do it- its not a conspiricy, WNYC just can't pay.

Sep. 26 2008 11:40 AM

how many net-neutrality issues can be addressed it terms of fair business practice? ie, full disclosure, clear contracts, equal access to products for all customers? more competition?

are there aspects of ISP misbehavior that might be more appropriately addressed by the FTC than the FCC?

Sep. 26 2008 11:38 AM
Rob from Manhattan

[continued, from above]

"If you’ve never heard about this bit of business history, there’s a good reason: it never happened. Instead, A.T. & T. had to abide by a “common carriage” rule: it provided the same quality of service to all, and could not favor one customer over another. But, while “tiered access” never influenced the spread of the telephone network, it is becoming a major issue in the evolution of the Internet. Until recently, companies that provided Internet access followed a de-facto commoncarriage rule, usually called “network neutrality,” which meant that all Web sites got equal treatment. Network neutrality was considered so fundamental to the success of the Net that Michael Powell, when he was chairman of the F.C.C., described it as one of the basic rules of “Internet freedom.” In the past few months, though, companies like A.T. & T. and BellSouth have been trying to scuttle it. In the future, Web sites that pay extra to providers could receive what BellSouth recently called “special treatment,” and those that don’t could end up in the slow lane. One day, BellSouth customers may find that, say, loads a lot faster than, and that the sites BellSouth favors just seem to run more smoothly. Tiered access will turn the providers into Internet gatekeepers.

Sep. 26 2008 11:38 AM
Rob from Manhattan

The definitive analogy, from Jim Surowiecki:

"In the first decades of the twentieth century, as a national telephone network spread across the United States, A.T. & T. adopted a policy of “tiered access” for businesses. Companies that paid an extra fee got better service: their customers’ calls went through immediately, were rarely disconnected, and sounded crystal-clear. Those who didn’t pony up had a harder time making calls out, and people calling them sometimes got an “all circuits busy” response. Over time, customers gravitated toward the higher-tier companies and away from the ones that were more difficult to reach. In effect, A.T. & T.’s policy turned it into a corporate kingmaker.

[part two to follow]

Sep. 26 2008 11:37 AM

please discuss Project ALTO and P4P.

Sep. 26 2008 11:33 AM

there are questions not only about what the rules should be, but about who should be making which rules.

the internet works because it is global and standards based. most of those standards are established by independent non-profs like IETF, ICANN, W3C, etc.

if individual ISPs start making their own rules that contradict global standards you no longer have a global internet.

however, the same goes for individual governments.

there are aspects of the ISP business that are clearly the domain of the FCC (spectrum alocation, etc.) and there are other aspects that clearly belong to IETF etc (packet routing standards, etc.) others may not be so clear. where do we draw the boundaries?

what's the appropriate response when new practices are introduced before standards are established? regulate? or request standards from the appropriate standards bodies?

Sep. 26 2008 11:33 AM

I think Brian knows perfectly well that Gore never claimed to invent the internet, but he couldn't resist repeating this stupid zombie lie for the sake of a cheap laugh. Cut it out, Brian, you're better than that.

Sep. 26 2008 11:27 AM
Rachel from New York City (Upper West Side)

If Broadway could not use mics anymore, so much the better! Amplification has ruined Broadway, especially musicals.

Sep. 26 2008 11:15 AM
Anne from Manhattan

Al Gore gets a bad rap for "inventing the internet". But, he also writes very articulately about Net Neutrality in his book "The Assault on Reason".

Sep. 26 2008 11:13 AM
jawbone from Parsippany, NJ

Brian! For shame! I cannot believe you chose to intro this segment by repeating the MCM canard that Gore claimed he invented the Internet.

You do know better...don't you???

But it does go to show the power of the MCM (mainstream corporate media) to create false images about even very well known people.

Which is why I have trouble accepting very much that the MCM reports. How many "Gore said he invented the Internet" do we not know the actual truth about? Like how the financial mess is being reported....

Sep. 26 2008 11:12 AM
O from Forest Hills

I don't know everything is going HD next year. What will that mean for the computers we use now? Will we not be able to access the net?

What is Obama's stand on the Internet?

I find it very interesting that McCainn wants to regulate the Internet but not the banks and health insurance.

How will us going HD affect older technology like T-1 lines and DSL lines as opposed to wireless net and the new fiber optic connections like Verizon fios?

Sep. 26 2008 11:03 AM
seth from Long Island

The Internet and Broadcast Regulation is a great topic for discussion.

Unfortunately, people and groups that organize debates don't care for this issue.

During this presidential campaign there hasn’t been a single candidate forum or debate devoted to science and technology policy. However, there have been 3 candidate forums devoted to faith and religion. Given the fact that the Internet was born in the US, the absence of a forum or debate on science and technology policy during this presidential campaign is a National Disgrace.

Sep. 26 2008 10:29 AM

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