The Media’s One-Side-Fits-All Approach to Net Neutrality

What at times is worse than the Jurassic Press not covering something?  The Jurassic Press covering something.

The all-encompassing government-Internet-power-grab that is Network Neutrality rarely gets outside-the-Tech-World media attention.  But Thursday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in Democrat Party-line fashion to begin its process of imposing it.  This was a big enough deal that it garnered over-the-weekend Big Media coverage from ABC (with a Bloomberg assist) and PBS (with a Washington Post assist). 

And it will shock you to learn that they only provided the pro-regulation side of the discussion - leaving out myriad essential points that are at cross-purposes with their government-growth efforts.

Their reporting was in fact so warped that - as huge as the FCC’s power grab is - there was palpable upset that the Commission didn’t go further.  And hope that it will increase its overreach as the process moves forward.

ABC’s This Week host (and former President Bill Clinton staffer) George Stephanopoulos first ran a Jeff Zeleny terribly mal-informed recorded piece.  In which the only person with whom Zeleny spoke was Tim Wu - the creator of Net Neutrality.  Wu was not identified as having done so - his opinion was merely taken at face value and presented unopposed.

PBS’s News Hour host (and author of a book effusively praising of President Barack Obama) Gwen Ifill read a brief, mildly awful introductory piece.

Then came the near mirror-image interviews - in that they both pushed the same inaccurate information about what the FCC’s power grab will mean.  Stephanopoulos spoke with Bloomberg Television anchor Cory Johnson - Ifill with Washington Post National Tech Reporter Cecilia Kang

No one - questioners, answerers or or set piece reporters - ever mentioned that there have been no Net Neutrality regulations for the entire life of the Internet.  During which it has grown into the unbelievably dynamic, free speech-free market Xanadu we all know and love. 

Had viewers been told this, they would unquestionably ask “If it ain’t broke - why is the perpetually-broken government trying to fix it?”

No one mentioned that the FCC has already twice tried to impose Net Neutrality - and twice had it unanimously thrown out by the D.C. Circuit Court as outside the bounds of their authority. 

Court Backs Comcast Over FCC on ‘Net Neutrality’

Verizon Wins Net Neutrality Court Ruling Against FCC

Unquestionably viewers would look on the FCC even more dubiously if they knew this was their third totally unnecessary attempt at imposition.

Here’s some of what Kang and Johnson did decide to discuss.

Kang: What was approved today could change that structure, in that Internet service provides — that’s your telecom and cable company that provide the Internet into your home — can decide to charge Web sites for faster or premium delivery of content. And that means higher quality content.

Johnson: (T)his changes the future of -- all of the stuff we do on the internet, whether it's business, whether it's personal interactions, watching movies on Netflix, all those things will be changed by this decision.

So much wrong to unpack here. 

“Change” implies it wasn’t allowed before.  In fact Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have all along been allowed to charge huge bandwidth hogs like Netflix and Google for being huge bandwidth hogs - no Net Neutrality regs ever, remember?  Quite a few such deals have already been made or discussed. 

Comcast and Netflix Reach Deal on Service

Streaming Brilliant: Netflix Signs Access Agreement with Verizon

ESPN in Negotiations with Verizon to Exempt its Content from Carrier’s Data Caps

It’s a basic economic precept - Use-More-Pay-More.

Netflix and (Google’s) YouTube Are the Internet’s Bandwidth Consumption Kings

(A) new study from broadband service company Sandvine…estimates YouTube and Netflix combine to account for just over half of all peak-hour download traffic in the United States and around 45% of all total traffic including uploads.

If the media had their way, government would mandate that gas stations charge the same for empty Escalades and Escorts.

More Kang and Johnson:

Kang: And what they (the Leftist protestors) were saying is, they don’t like the idea, again, of fast lanes on the Internet….

So the FCC can rewrite, re-tweak this idea, especially on fast lanes.

Johnson: And what this decision is trying to do is allow certain companies to have their own fast lane on the internet.

“Fast lanes” have not been - and will not be - created.  What the ISPs will do is move huge-bandwidth-consuming content - like Netflix and YouTube videos - closer to the off-ramps from the Information Superhighway to your home. 

No other content gets any slower.  In fact it’ll likely get faster - by getting these bandwidth beasts out of the way.  Imagine taking all the 18-wheelers off the highways - would that not improve traffic for the rest of us? 

We do know that without these deals everyone will pay much more for Internet service.  Because the government will force all of us to pay the huge bandwidth costs of Netflix and Google.  Thereby subsidizing the profits of Netflix and Google.  Crony Socialism, anyone? 

Google And Netflix Are Considering An All-Out PR Blitz Against The FCC’s Net Neutrality Plan

Shocker.

There was much more media wrongness and omission - but you by now get the gist.

Neither ABC-Bloomberg nor PBS-Washington Post were interested in accurately reporting the FCC’s Net Neutrality power grab. 

They were instead working on getting it done - and in fact expanding it.