FCC Commissioner McDowell visits J-School

FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell visited the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication on Feb. 10, 2011, to discuss why he voted against the net neutrality regulations adopted by the FCC in December 2010.  He held a 75-minute question-and-answer session with undergraduate students in Dr. Cathy Packer’s Internet law class.  This is JOMC major Natasha Duarte’s Twitter feed on the event (in reverse order, of course):

•  New tech innovation is taking less and less time to reach an audience. We need to look at general consumer laws, not tech specific — McDowell

•  McDowell: transparency rules for ISPs blocking content would be helpful to consumers, but the FCC doesn’t have the legal authority

•  “(wireless) not substitutable (for cable), but when we think something’s not substitutable, that’s when it starts becoming substitutable.”

•  McDowell: wireless-only broadband is the fastest growing segment of broadband.

•  @hartzog asked if wireless/mobile will provide meaningful competition for cable broadband

•  McDowell says Comcasts’s blocking Bit Torrent was a bandwidth efficiency decision, not an anticompetitive business move

•  In 2008, Comcast was sued for blocking file sharing Bit Torrent; court said FCC didn’t have legal authority over Comcast

•  McDowell says he hasn’t seen anticompetitive content-based discrimination by ISPs.

•  McDowell: Statutes already exist to address collusion and “refusal to deal” by ISPs and other companies

• McDowell says he thinks #netneutrality will go to the courts (lawsuits have been filed)

•  McDowell: Congress could defund FCC enforcement of #netneutrality, but it probably won’t pass the Senate. If it does, Obama will veto.

•  McDowell: #netneutrality was embedded in Obama’s campaign promises in 2008. The promise was written by @FCC Chairman Genachowski.

•  McDowell: 90 percent of @FCC votes are unanimous and bipartisan. It’s not like Congress

•  McDowell: “Internet architecture defies authoritarian management”

•  McDowell: There’s a role for the #FCC to shine a light on allegations of discriminatory practices on the Internet

•  McDowell: The #FCC doesn’t have statutory authority to litigate over the Internet

•  #netneutrality has 3 components: Transparency, no blocking and no unreasonable discrimination

•  Here’s the #netneutrality order passed by the @FCC in December: http://bit.ly/gV6Xn1

•  McDowell’s here. I just shook his hand. OK, I’m going to stop being nerdy and start being a journalist now.

•  I’m tweeting from the @UNCJSchool N.C. Halls of Fame room where @FCC Commissioner McDowell will address students & faculty on #netneutrality

McDowell also was interviewed by The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer.  Here’s that story:    http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/02/14/987721/decisions-on-digital-data-loom.html#storylink=misearch.


New rules for the media? A look at government policy in 2010

The role of federal policy in shaping journalism will be the topic of a free, public lecture on Wednesday, Sept. 15.  Josh Silver, president and CEO of Free Press, will speak at 7 p.m. in 111 Carroll Hall on the UNC-CH campus.

Silver will discuss some of the major regulatory issues facing the U.S. media today.  Those issues include how to expand broadband Internet service to all American homes, whether to continue to allow Internet service providers to censor their customers’ communications and how best to fund professional news reporting.

Free Press is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, the group supports diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, quality journalism and universal access to communications.  The group has offices in Washington, D.C., and Florence, Mass.  To learn more about Silver and Free Press, visit freepress.net.

View the lecture on YouTube:


FCC v. Fox Television Stations and a Call for Protecting Emotive Speech

Wat Hopkins, Park Distinguished Visiting Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, presented his research at the Mary Junck Research Colloquium. Dr. Hopkins discussed the Supreme Court’s recent treatment of non-traditional language and the appropriate level of protection for the emotive, as well as the cognitive, element of speech. The presentation focused on the justices’ attempt in FCC v. Fox Television Stations to define the f-word and then determine whether, when used as a fleeting expletive rather than repeatedly, the word is indecent for broadcast purposes. Dr. Hopkins, a professor of communication at Virginia Tech, has published three books and a number of articles on free speech topics. The presentation was co-sponsored by the UNC Center for Media Law & Policy.


The Crime of the (20th) Century: How We Threw Away our Cultural Heritage for No Good Reason (and whether Google Books will bring it back)

James Boyle, William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law at Duke Law School, gave a public lecture on the public domain, its erosion by copyright, and the controversial Google Books project. Boyle is the author of numerous books and articles about intellectual property and copyright law, and the way they shape our culture.