Net Neutrality Vote & Media Consolidation: It Does Effect You
Do you enjoy having open access to the Internet, social media, streaming sites, and the endless amount of information available at your fingertips when you need it? Well, in case you didn’t know, all of that may be jeopardized this week.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote Thursday, December 14, 2017, to repeal the Net Neutrality rules put in place in 2015. In the most basic terms, Net Neutrality allows everyone to have equal access to information on the Internet whenever they please. If you have Internet service, then you have equal access to the same information, streaming sites, social media outlets, etc. as everyone else with Internet service. If this is repealed, then the doors will open for media companies to limit the websites, online tools, services, and resources you can access, and dictate how much you must pay for them. This repeal and the problems it will cause are rooted in media consolidation, or the practice of media companies buying each another out to create less competition in the industry, while providing them with more control over what information people receive, and how it is presented.
Speaking of media consolidation, did you know that only SIX corporations own 90% of all American media? It is important to note here that the term “media” does not exclusively refer to television; Media includes newspapers, television networks, radio stations, news outlets, social media outlets, search engines, music companies, production companies, film distributors, and the list goes on. Nearly every source of your entertainment and information about the world around you, is owned and controlled by six companies. Those companies are Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, Comcast, NewsCorp, and CBS (Click for video explaining media ownership).
Media Consolidation Chart. Source: http://frankwbaker.com/The%20big%20picture.jpg
Lack of competition in any industry means that there is a lack of diversity in thought, leadership, and agenda. Lack of competition in media multiplies these issues exponentially.
Media controls what we think about, shapes how we think about it, and directly influences our worldview. With such a disparity between the amount of media and its ownership, there is room for bias in all the media we consume. The same reason we have news networks that clearly favor one political stance over another is the same reason your favorite music artist sounds repetitive and manufactured once he/she goes mainstream; the six conglomerates controlling nearly every piece of media we consume will only release things that bring them capital gain, with little regard for improving the business or ethics along the way.
This is all important to understand because it relates directly to the proposed repeal of Net Neutrality. This country is run by the almighty dollar. Having six companies control your media and flow of information, then giving them the power to also dictate who can access media and how much consumers have to pay for it, is detrimental to the existence of free expression as we know it. Regardless of how nice the FCC’s official statement sounds about the reasons for this week’s vote, know that no good will come of this for the average American. Their main reason for wanting to repeal Net Neutrality is to end “burdensome regulation.” Here’s a tip, kids: Organizations only push for deregulation when they desire to do potentially unethical things that current rules prevent. Not only will this repeal dig a deeper hole into consumers’ pockets, it will also be a form of censorship preventing some from accessing the information they seek to be informed citizens.
Think of it like this: This blog is on WordPress. As of now, we all have open access to WordPress, allowing me to discuss whatever I wish and allowing you to read it. If Net Neutrality is repealed and access to forums like WordPress is limited to those able and willing to pay for it, then bloggers like me may be silenced altogether. Even if we’re not, members of our audience may not be able to afford Internet packages or speeds that allow them to reach our websites. Internet providers might also prioritize other websites over ones like this, so that we get lost in the shuffle altogether. So, even if we do still publish impactful, conversation-starting material, some of our audiences may be limited from seeing our content.
If the FCC succeeds in repealing Net Neutrality, it will hurt small-scale information providers, information consumers, and the citizens’ ability to be informed. Subsequently, I also foresee the media giants continuing their questionable dealings to gain more money, power, and influence. This whole situation is indicative of that.
Don’t you wonder why you’ve heard so little about an upcoming decision as big as canceling Net Neutrality? You haven’t heard about it because those driving this decision didn’t want you to. There has been little to no news coverage about this, nor have there been any public hearings for the people to offer comment.I wouldn’t have heard either, had it not been for activists like Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) and Amanda Seales. The FCC and major media conglomerates don’t want to be held up, or stopped, so they’ve kept quiet about the upcoming vote to keep us from standing in their way.
It’s time for us to stand in their way, anyway. If you believe that repealing Net Neutrality will cause more harm than good, then it is imperative that you contact your Congressmen/women ASAP! Find your Senator HERE, and find your Representative HERE. Also, Ajit Pai, FCC Chairman, can be reached at (202) 418-1000. Information for other FCC commissioners can be found below. Blow their phone lines and email inboxes up! Stand for something. Protect your right to be in the know. Protect the Open Internet. Lack of access to information=lack of knowledge=lack of power. Do not give away your power!
Be informed. Stay Kultured.