Sunday, June 12, 2005

On May 22, I wrote:
When three million people, including many conservatives, lobbied the FCC last year to protest new rules allowing more conglomeration, we stopped it. The board members didn't think there were three million people in this country who even knew the FCC existed. Who would have believed that such a geeky topic as FCC rules changes would attract such widespread attention? Internet communications drove that protest, and they can do so again.

Now is the time. We need to apply that same pressure, on the House of Representatives in this instance, over another geeky, crucial issue. Free, which sponsored the recent National Conference on Media Reform, sent me this notice:
A bill just introduced in Congress would take away the right of cities and towns across the country to provide citizens with universal, low-cost Internet access.
Giant cable and telephone companies don’t want any competition -- which might actually force them to offer lower prices, higher speeds and service to rural and urban areas.
U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) -- a former telephone company executive -- has introduced a bill (HR 2726) that would let cable and telecom companies shut down municipal and community efforts to offer broadband services.
You can stop this outrageous bill. Send a letter to your representative now.
Next, forward this message to everyone you know ...
No less than the future of all communications is at stake. In a few years, television, telephone, radio and the Web will be accessed through a high-speed internet connection. Low-cost alternatives to telephone (DSL) and cable monopolies are emerging across the country, as cities, towns, nonprofits and community groups build low-cost "Community Internet" and municipal broadband systems.
Companies like SBC, Verizon and Comcast have been introducing laws state by state that would prohibit municipal broadband, undercut local control and prevent competition. But we've been fighting back -- and winning.
An alliance of public interest groups, local officials, high-tech innovators and organized citizens have defeated anti-municipal broadband measures in nine of the 13 states where they've been introduced this year.
What the industry couldn't pass in the states, they're trying to push through in Washington. Sessions' bill -- the "Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act" (an Orwellian title if there ever was one) -- would prevent state and local governments from providing "any telecommunications service, information service or cable service" anywhere a corporation offers a similar service.
Congressman Sessions worked for telephone giant SBC for 16 years, and his wife currently serves as a director of Cingular Wireless, an SBC subsidiary. SBC and its employees have been Sessions' second-biggest career patron, pouring more than $75,000 into his campaign coffers.
We can stop this legislation and send a clear message to Congress that local communities -- not the giant telephone and cable companies -- should determine their own communications needs. But you must act now.
Please send a letter opposing HR 2726 -- and forward this message to everyone you know, asking them to do the same.
Josh Silver
Executive Director
Free Press

Free Press is right when it says, "Media IS the issue." And progressives are finally catching on. We aim to forestall these ruinous bills rather than find out eight years later that we let Congress royally screw us.


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