Monthly Archives: June 2007

Incumbents Preparing

about_bob.jpg Cringely gets pessimistic:
In the end the ISPs are going to win this battle, you know. The only thing that will keep them from doing that is competition, something it is difficult to see coming along anytime soon, rather like that lemonade-powered sports car.

Beyond Net Neutrality: If at first you don’t succeed, change the game. I, Cringely, Pulpit, April 6, 2007

Is he just whining? Continue reading

AT&T Attacks Content

Copyright is not just for Internet radio anymore:
AT&T Inc. has joined Hollywood studios and recording companies in trying to keep pirated films, music and other content off its network — the first major carrier of Internet traffic to do so.

As AT&T has begun selling pay-television services, the company has realized that its interests are more closely aligned with Hollywood, Cicconi said in an interview Tuesday. The company’s top leaders recently decided to help Hollywood protect the digital copyrights to that content.

“We do recognize that a lot of our future business depends on exciting and interesting content,” he said.

AT&T to target pirated content, It joins Hollywood in trying to keep bootleg material off its network. By James S. Granelli, L.A. Times, June 13, 2007

Now it’s for Internet video. Which is what “James W. Cicconi, an AT&T senior vice president,” meant by “exciting and interesting content.” Nevermind participatory customer-generated content, or that customers might not want AT&T monitoring their content. Continue reading

U.S. Presidential Candidates per WCA

The Wireless Communications Association International (WCA) has put up a website it says is:
…the authoritative go-to resource for comments by – and comparisons between – top U.S. policymakers regarding the pace and benefits of broadband deployments. The ongoing U.S. Presidential election campaign already features the policy positions of the candidates. Broadband services play a vital role in a host of areas in both the North American and world economies. These much-sought benefits go beyond consumer desires to include community economic development in rural and urban regions, plus critical applications in education, public safety, military preparedness and disaster response.

WCA Thought-Leaders Forum: U.S. Presidential Candidates Debate Broadband, accessed 13 June 2007

It’s somewhat unfortunate that it’s phrased as Broadband, not Internet policy, but given the membership of WCA, that’s understandable. I can’t tell at first glance how thorough it is. They ask for comments.


Media Ownership

media-ownership.gif While we’re on the general subject of postal and Internet rates and a free press,, let’s look at who owns the U.S. media:
In 1983, 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the U.S. … When the 6th edition of The Media Monopoly was published in 2000, the number had fallen to six. Since then, there have been more mergers and the scope has expanded to include new media like the Internet market. More than 1 in 4 Internet users in the U.S. now log in with AOL Time-Warner, the world’s largest media corporation.

In 2004, Bagdikian’s revised and expanded book, The New Media Monopoly, shows that only 5 huge corporations — Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch’s News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) — now control most of the media industry in the U.S. General Electric’s NBC is a close sixth.

Number of corporations that control a majority of U.S. media, Media Reform Information Center, accessed 21 June 2007

This might be worth remembering the next time you hear that the market will sort out any problems and there’s no need for regulation. Would that there were a market so that that could be true.


None Should Be Favored

What’s the theory behind the recent postal rate changes? The Chairman of the Postal Board of Governors spelled it out 27 years ago:
“…none should be favored and none benefited. Each party pays the cost of service it consumes, not less, and does not bear the cost of others’ consumption.”

James C. Miller III and Roger Sherman, “Has the 1970 Act Been Fair to Mailers?” in Roger Sherman, ed., Perspectives on Postal Service Issues 63 (1980).

And the Postal Regulatory Commission is following that theory. Continue reading

Postal Radio?

forever_stamp.jpg What’s the point of a free press if it can’t be delivered?
To the surprise of many independent publishers, in February the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), the body in charge of determining postal rates, rejected a rate-hike plan that was submitted by the U.S. Postal Service, the people in the business of delivering the mail for the past 215 years. This plan was widely understood to call for an approximate 12 percent increase that would have hit all publications more or less equally.

Instead the PRC adopted a revised version of an extremely complicated proposal submitted by media conglomerate Time Warner that included a number of possible discounts favoring the largest publishers.

Postal Rates = Free Press, Rate hike pushed by media conglomerate Time Warner threaten small and medium-circulation publications, By Robert W. McChesney, In These Times May 17, 2007

Why Time Warner? Continue reading

Stalking Horses?

horses.jpg This make me wonder:
This is in response to (apparently) poisonous language from Verizon (and others), saying that “Frontline is a stalking horse for net neutrality and other unprecedented and unjustified mandates.”

Open Access, by Susan, Susan Crawford blog, Thu 07 Jun 2007 06:25 PM EDT

I wonder why Verizon and the few other members of the duopoly are able to frighten anyone into changing their language? Continue reading

TV, Literacy, and the Internet

Whether Ray Bradbury is right about the cause being TV or not, it appears that U.S. adults don’t read very well:
In the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) assessment, 1994-98:
  • The mean prose literacy scores of U.S. adults with primary or no education, ranked 14th out of 18 high-income countries;
  • The mean prose literacy scores of U.S. adults with some high school, but no diploma or GED, ranked 19th out of 19 high-income countries;
  • The mean prose literacy scores of U.S. adults with a high school diploma or GED (but no college), ranked 18th (tie) out of 19 countries;
  • The mean prose literacy scores of U.S. adults with 1-3 years of college, ranked 15th out of 19 countries; and
  • The mean prose literacy scores of U.S. adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, ranked 5th.

The Twin Challenges of Mediocrity and Inequality: Literacy in the U.S. from an International Perspective, Sum, Andrew, Irwin Kirsch, and Robert Taggart, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ, February 2002. Quoted in Fact Sheet Overview, National Institute for Literacy, accessed 7 June 2007.

Apparently U.S. adults only really learn to read in college, and not all that well even then. And if they can’t read very well, it’s a safe bet that they don’t read very much. Continue reading

Big Ed Retires

“Who else they gonna listen to? The public?” produced a memorable satire on the policies of just-retired AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre. We’ve already seen that new AT&T CEO Randal Stephenson isn’t steering a much different course, and Time-Warner CEO Ed Parsons seems to think the cablecos and telcos are the original natives of the Internet and will win at Little Big Horn. Meanwhile, the FCC has time to try to regulate Cher. Maybe the FCC needs to hear some different opinions.