In his article Replaced by a Chimp: Life After Net Neutrality, in The Nation online edition this week, Jeffrey Chester argues that, if Network Neutrality protections are not included in Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens’ telecom bill, which may yet be put to a vote by the senate this year, not only will the public interest of equal access to information, goods and services be undermined, but the network will become little more than another conduit for mainstream, low-brow “infotainment.”
The global media landscape has become fragmented at the same time that media power, that is the power of media outlets, has become consolidated. In 1983, 50 companies controlled 90% of the media. Today it's 10 companies. That equal access to the data housed and shared on the Internet is at risk directly threatens the democratic value of the World Wide Web. But by allowing corporate interests to control that access, through tiered pricing, we further erode the principles of equal access to information for all.
The representatives who are reaping the cash bonuses are hardly of one mind (or even one party). Republicans may not all have the same motivations as the administration, but they are acting from the same playbook: they want to continue as the ruling party. “The GOP--including the White House--is still pushing hard to kill network neutrality. For example, at a hearing last week before Stevens's committee on his renomination for another term, FCC chair Kevin Martin came out in defense of the big cable and phone companies. The FCC chair said he thought it was fine for Verizon and others to begin charging extra fees to those content providers that want to be placed on faster Internet lanes.”
It’s clear that at least one outcome of media consolidation is global, social hegemony, assurance of complicity of the public at large in the objective of the ruling class. The message that society receives from the Power’s That Be comes in many forms: news, advertisement, “infotainment,” etc, and the media corporatocracy controls most outlets. It’s a tragedy that the Internet, perhaps the last public commons, may be incorporated into that entity (no pun intended). Hugo Chavez described what many believe is the sinister objective at the UN on Wednesday: “The government of the