Media and neutrality regulation: contradictions?

by on February 27, 2007 · 6 comments

Susan Crawford asks a good question: How does one reconcile being both “for” network neutrality regulation and rules against media concentration?

To be “for” network neutrality, it seems natural to have the view that the internet is displacing many prior forms of communications modalities–the press is in a free fall, people are watching much less broadcast television, etc.–and so it’s even more important to get internet access policy right and avoid gatekeepers. You’d want to talk about the empowering, emergent communications taking place online.

But to be “for” limits on media ownership, it may be necessary to argue that nothing much has changed. You have to claim that broadcast and newspapers control news and culture, and so it’s important to avoid more consolidation. The internet isn’t changing the local news picture, you’d have to say, and so its existence doesn’t change the media landscape. Blogs aren’t legitimate alternative news sources.

One logical response might be that big media does control information and culture despite the emerging competition of the net and precisely because of this should we have neutrality regulations to protect the fledgling voices. Media ownership rules would also be necessary until the emerging competition on the net actually serves as a check on concentrated media. That’s just me thinking out loud, but I’m sure it’s not too off the mark from the argument we’re likely to see. What I always want to know, and what is rarely made clear, is how much competition is enough to make regulation unnecessary in either context.

  • http://www.digitalproductions.co.uk Crosbie Fitch

    I don’t know about you, but I’m against regulation.

    Regulating neutrality is a foot in the door to regulation per se.

    We’ve already seen how regulating the airwaves can be shortsighted when better technologies could make more efficient use of it if it were unregulated.

    If network providers really believe they can make more money by prioritising packets rather than adding more bandwidth overall, then that’s probably better for everyone than being forced to provide neutral network access.

    Regulation is an overhead – and bad news.

  • http://www.digitalproductions.co.uk Crosbie Fitch

    I don’t know about you, but I’m against regulation.

    Regulating neutrality is a foot in the door to regulation per se.

    We’ve already seen how regulating the airwaves can be shortsighted when better technologies could make more efficient use of it if it were unregulated.

    If network providers really believe they can make more money by prioritising packets rather than adding more bandwidth overall, then that’s probably better for everyone than being forced to provide neutral network access.

    Regulation is an overhead – and bad news.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Crawford takes aim at her rivals in the net neutrality battle, the vile trolls at Free Press. FP’s main issue is media consolidation and the growing power of Bond villain Rupert Murdoch.

    There was an interesting split in reactions to the AT&T;/SBC merger agreement on the part of the neutrinos, where the Free Press/Tim Wu/lefty blog/telco regulator crowd hailed it as a victory, while the Internet-oriented neutrinos such as Crawford, Isenberg, and Evslin called it a setback.

    I’m glad to see the rift is widening, because net neutrality is such a fraud that all of its advocates need to be exposed for the confidence game they’re running at the expense of the Internet.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Crawford takes aim at her rivals in the net neutrality battle, the vile trolls at Free Press. FP’s main issue is media consolidation and the growing power of Bond villain Rupert Murdoch.

    There was an interesting split in reactions to the AT&T/SBC merger agreement on the part of the neutrinos, where the Free Press/Tim Wu/lefty blog/telco regulator crowd hailed it as a victory, while the Internet-oriented neutrinos such as Crawford, Isenberg, and Evslin called it a setback.

    I’m glad to see the rift is widening, because net neutrality is such a fraud that all of its advocates need to be exposed for the confidence game they’re running at the expense of the Internet.

  • http://www.nab.org Nabisco

    I am not for regulation in either instance but particularly in the case of media consolidation. The Internet has unquestionably become a major player in the media landscape, particularly when it comes to attracting advertising dollars, and less restrictive media consolidation rules actually serve to protect “fledgling voices” in broadcasting. Without the resources afforded by corporate ownership, these independent voices would be unable to compete with cable, satellite (both television and radio), and an ever-growing Internet for the advertising dollars on which they rely. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I do some consulting work for the NAB.

  • http://www.nab.org Nabisco

    I am not for regulation in either instance but particularly in the case of media consolidation. The Internet has unquestionably become a major player in the media landscape, particularly when it comes to attracting advertising dollars, and less restrictive media consolidation rules actually serve to protect “fledgling voices” in broadcasting. Without the resources afforded by corporate ownership, these independent voices would be unable to compete with cable, satellite (both television and radio), and an ever-growing Internet for the advertising dollars on which they rely. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I do some consulting work for the NAB.

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