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Who has time to blog? I’m too busy saving the internet!


In 2003, the Federal Communications Commission tried to implement a series of controversial media ownership rule changes, which would have put on steroids the hideous media concentration present in the United States and have made the rotten U.S. media environment we endure far worse. There were considerable forces aligned to make sure the rule changes would happen: a pro-corporate-media Congress in both houses, a pro-corporate-media White House, a friendly majority at the FCC, pro-corporate-media judges in key points of the judiciary, and the corporate media was certainly mum on an issue on which they stood to cash in big. But still the rules got stopped, thanks to an enormous, almost unprecedent public outcry, which fueled an emergency court order and a lawsuit which stopped the FCC and their corporate shills dead in their tracks for the time being. That public outcry didn’t spring full-grown out of Zeus’ head. That victory happened as a result of a ton of thankless, frustrating, and ugly but necessary work — work not only connected with the FCC fight of 2002 and 2003, but with analogue struggles going back years, decades, and far longer. The Chicago Media Action website chronicles some of the FCC-related efforts I myself was involved with. Now, I can’t help but be reminded of the movie Groundhog Day, where the same struggle has replayed itself this year (and hopefully with the same ending). The struggle this time pertains to the very future of the internet. For the past three months, I’ve been involved with efforts to raise awareness of an attempt to kill the internet (certainly in the United States) and growing oppostional efforts to save the internet. It’s only in recent weeks that there’s been visible and substantial progress made on the issue. But it didn’t just happen spontaneously. It’s like the proverbial saying that you worked for years to become an overnight success. Even Jeff Chester with the Center for Digital Democracy, who at the same time is the most pessimistic media activist I can think of, but also the most realistic media activist I can think of, has been writing with a veil of optimism in recent weeks. The key to winning for the future of the internet is the same as the key to winning the FCC media ownership rules fight: getting people aware of the issue, and increasingly involved in the issue. Politicians in the U.S. are being bribed left and right on this key media issue. The question is: Will they stay bribed? That depends on what each of us does about it. If net neutrality provisions die, you can expect the death knell of every website to the left of the National Review (and quite a lot of right-wing-aligned websites as well). I strongly encourage folks reading this to get involved if you value the internet and hope to keep it a reasonably free medium of communication.

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