Barton / Hastert bill up: Future of media at stake?

Posted by Mitchell - September 28, 2006 (entry 420)

I was going to post a longer, more vague, more meandering post about network neutrality, the telecom act jockeying, and so on, but things have changed pretty quickly for the worse I'm afraid.

In the wake of the aforementioned collapse last week, Joe Barton of Texas and Illinois' very own former-high-school wrestling coach turned House Speaker have co-signed a version of the telecom act (imaginatively named "Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006", or COPE, which is what we may have to do if this thing passes -- "cope"). According to early analysis of the bill, this bill is lousy:

* Sure, there's a 5% franchise fee, but no provisions as to where the money actually goes.

* It runs into decades of municipal franchise law, and the principle of common law for public utilities going back centuries

* There's no legislative rationale supporting this. Congress investigated the matter -- back in 1984 -- and Congress recommended local and municipal franchises precisely because nobody knows better how to tailor franchises to local needs than those folks already in the municipality.

* It leaves network neutrality to be decided in the realm of the FCC, where network neutrality could well fester and die (perhaps taking the internet with it).

Interesting side-note of interest: This bill has (so far) only one Democrat co-sponsor -- First District's own Bobby Rush (you'll recall that CMA members attended Bobby Rush's District Wide Assembly in late 2005).

Folks in the first district of Illinois: You may want to encourage Representative Rush to reconsider his sponsorship.

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