Photo by Chris Slupski

Facebook Helped Provoke the Egyptian Revolution; But Can it Govern?

The revolution in Egypt is another historic product of alternative media, espeically Facebook, home to the "April 6 movement" that commemorates the brutal beating death of a young Egyptian blogger who had exposed the 2008 beating of a demonstrator in the industrial city of El-Mahalla El-Jubra. Instead of stopping the communication, the police beatings provoked a huge following. And then a revolution. Read More ›

Free Press: Holier than thou

National Journal notes ($) that while Free Press frequently taps the media to slam its opponents as fronts for special interests who won’t reveal their funding, much of Free Press’s own funding is concealed. Free Press staff members “want to call everyone else a front group … [but] they don’t subject themselves to the same scrutiny,” [Phil] Kerpen [of Americans for Prosperity] contended. The charges of Astroturfing that Free Press aims at other groups, [Mike] McCurry [a former White House spokesman, who now runs Public Strategies Washington, a government-relations firm whose Arts+Labs coalition supports the telecoms in the net-neutrality debate] said, carry “a little whiff of hypocrisy.” Always better to debate the arguments, isn’t it? Shooting the messenger is usually Read More ›

Comcast + NBC = Blackmail

A Sunday editorial in the New York Times expressed concerns about Comcast’s proposed acquisition of NBC, but explicitly stopped short of calling for rejection of the deal.
According to the Times, this combination could be just awful

Comcast could bar rival cable and satellite TV companies from access to desirable NBC shows, or it could offer them only at a high price, bundled with less attractive content …. Comcast could now be tempted to limit access to NBC content on rival Internet services, or charge them high fees. And Comcast could take its bundling business model to the Internet by forcing customers to buy cable packages in order to see content from NBC’s network online.

After citing these horrific possibilities, the Times then says,

These concerns might not justify blocking a merger. But they do justify a careful review …. What regulators must not do is let this deal pass unchallenged.

What? If it’s so bad, shouldn’t we call 911?
Well, if the deal is rejected or withdrawn, various special interests get nothing.

Read More ›

Making waves

From pollster Charlie Cook: With 14 months to go before the 2010 midterm election, something could happen to improve the outlook for Democrats. However, wave elections, more often than not, start just like this: The president’s ratings plummet; his party loses its advantage on the generic congressional ballot test; the intensity of opposition-party voters skyrockets; his own party’s voters become complacent or even depressed; and independent voters move lopsidedly away. These were the early-warning signs of past wave elections. Seeing them now should terrify Democrats. If there is any possibility of a wave, a good bet would be that nothing of significance will happen in the Senate during those 14 months.

Which Republican for the FCC?

Over at TVNewsday, Harry A. Jessell writes I don’t like the way the new FCC is shaping up. There’s something missing. My concern has nothing to do with Julius Genachowski, whom the president has reportedly tapped for chairman…. What I’m having trouble with are the names popping up for the Republican seat…. All [the rumored candidates] work or used to work on Capitol Hill. They are basically experts on policymaking, crafting legislation and Washington politics, but not much else. The seat is turning into a reward for loyalty and a test of whose boss has the most clout. Bad idea. As the professed champion of business, the Republicans should award the seat to a businessman or a businesswoman. I’m talking Read More ›

Republican nominees for FCC

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Commerce Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison, I hear, have received approximately one dozen recommendations for filling the vacant seat on the FCC which, by law, must be filled by a Republican. Although the president will make the appointment, the views of the Senate Republican Leader, in particular, are usually accorded significant weight. The most prominent candidates include Lee Carosi Dunn (Senator McCain’s assistant for communications policy), Brian Hendricks (Hutchison’s assistant for communications policy), Ajit Pai (Senator Brownback’s assistant for judiciary matters) and two officials from the Bush administration (David Gross, ambassador for international communications and information policy; and Meredith Baker, former acting assistant secretary of commerce for telecommunications and information policy). All sound Read More ›

Genachowski for the FCC

President-elect Obama intends to appoint Julius Genachowski, a protege of former FCC chairman Reed Hundt, as the commission’s next chairman. Having been at the FCC with Hundt, Genachowski should have seen industries largely ignored by the commission — cable and wireless — thrive as a result of deregulation while the telephone industry it attempted to reinvent soon crashed. As George Gilder and I noted in a paper this past summer, when the 1996 law passed, there were several cable operators who planned to offer competitive phone services in a venture that included Sprint Corp. These plans were shelved, according to Sprint CEO William T. Esrey, due the FCC’s “pro-competition” policies: “If we provided telephony service over cable, we recognized that Read More ›

Report hits Martin’s leadership

A report prepared by the staff of the House Energy & Commerce Committee is critical of FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s leadership. Among the findings: “There are instances in which the Chairman manipulated, withheld, or suppressed data, reports, and information … in an apparent attempt to enable the Commission to regulate cable television companies.” The report mentions that Martin’s actions “have certainly undermined the integrity of the staff. Moreover, it was done with the purpose affecting Congressional decision-making…” Shocking. Oh, and the report notes that there is some friction between Martin and some or all of his four fellow commissioners. The report concludes that Martin’s management style is “heavy-handed, opaque, and non-collegial,” and that his leadership has led to “distrust, suspicion, Read More ›