Columns » Hightower

Fighting for net neutrality

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If a tree falls in the woods and NBC, ABC and CBS aren't there to cover the crash, does it make a sound?

Not necessarily. For example, consider some very big news from the Federal Communications Commission, which recently proposed letting a handful of monopolistic Internet service providers do away with the core democratic principle of "net neutrality" — the idea that everyone, big or small, has an equal opportunity to put their material on the Internet.

Axing this egalitarian principle has long been the goal of Comcast, Time Warner Cable and the few other ISPs that control the wires bringing high-speed Internet service into our homes. A two-lane system would let them collect big bucks from corporations wanting to rush their materials onto our screens ahead of everyone else, relegating us to the slow lane traffic jam.

The FCC's giveaway of our democratic Internet to plutocratic profiteers was a front-page story everywhere. Well, everywhere except on NBC, ABC and CBS. Curiously, the big three made no mention on their nightly news shows of this momentous and outrageous power play.

Why were they silent?

Follow the money.

NBC is owned by Comcast, which would reap a fortune by selling fast-lane access, so the conglomerate doesn't want its news arm notifying the public and stirring up opposition to the FCC action. ABC is owned by Disney, which is eager to purchase preferential passage for all of its many Internet offerings. Likewise, CBS owns Showtime and multiple sports networks that want to push their Internet programming ahead of smaller competitors.

By not even covering the attempt to destroy net neutrality, these conglomerates reveal what we can expect to get as "news" if they are allowed to control Internet content. To help stop them, go to freepress.net.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.

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