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[LAAMN-ANN] ACTION ALERT: Demand Open Access

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  • FAIR
    http://www.fair.org Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) (212) 633-6700 ACTION ALERT DEMAND OPEN ACCESS: AOL/Time Warner merger threatens diversity of
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 7, 2000

      Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
      (212) 633-6700


      AOL/Time Warner merger threatens diversity of Internet

      January 19, 2000

      Please write to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC),
      the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade
      Commission (FTC) and let them know that the public wants
      guaranteed open access to the Internet through broadband
      cable lines, and an investigation of the antitrust issues
      raised by the proposed AOL/Time Warner merger.

      For more information about what's at stake, please read
      FAIR's Media Advisory, "AOL-Time Warner: Dawn of a Golden
      Age, or a Blow to Media Diversity?" at:


      Below is a sample letter, based on FAIR's own letter to the
      FCC, DOJ and FTC. We include it for your convenience, and to
      suggest the key points we think these agencies need to hear
      from the public. Of course, we encourage you to modify it to
      reflect your own concerns, or to compose your own letter.
      But please do make your voice heard now if you're concerned
      about this merger.


      Chair Robert Pitofsky
      Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Competition
      Office of Policy and Evaluation, Room 394
      Washington, D.C. 20580
      (877) 382-4357 or (202) 326-3300

      Chair William Kennard
      Federal Communications Commission
      445 12th St. SW
      Washington, D.C. 20554
      1-888-225-5322 (1-888-CALL FCC)

      Assistant Attorney General Joel I. Klein
      Department of Justice, Antitrust Division
      950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
      Washington, D.C. 20530-0001
      (202) 514-2007


      Dear Chair Kennard, Assistant Attorney General Klein and
      Chair Pitofsky:

      As the country debates the implications of the proposed
      AOL/Time Warner merger, why hasn't the public heard more
      from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the
      Department of Justice (DOJ) or the Federal Trade Commission
      (FTC)? I urge your agencies to conduct an immediate
      investigation of how this merger will impact the public
      interest, particularly in relation to anti-trust concerns
      and the industry's commitment to open access to the Internet
      through broadband cable lines.

      In a January 2 interview with Time Warner-owned CNN, Time
      Warner Chair Gerald Levin said that global media "is fast
      becoming the predominant business of the 21st Century." So
      predominant that, according to Levin, the corporate media
      are now "more important than government. It's more
      important than educational institutions and non-profits."

      Levin argued that given the ever-increasing power and reach
      of media conglomerates, "we're going to need to have these
      corporations redefined as instruments of public service...
      and that may be a more efficient way to deal with society's
      problems than bureaucratic governments."

      Should the democratic structure of our society really be
      scrapped in favor of global corporate governance? The
      question is moot, claims Levin, since "it's going to be
      forced anyhow because when you have a system that is
      instantly available everywhere in the world immediately,
      then the old-fashioned regulatory system has to give way."

      Are the FCC, DOJ and FTC going to "give way"?

      The AOL/Time Warner merger strongly suggests that the FCC's
      stated policy of "regulatory restraint" around open-access
      issues has failed to protect the interests of consumers.
      Now that it will control Time Warner's extensive cable
      network, AOL is likely to abandon its support for
      open-access. The FCC's prediction that "market forces will
      compel cable companies to negotiate access agreements with
      unaffiliated ISPs, preventing cable companies from keeping
      systems closed and proprietary" seems to have been proven

      Even if AOL decides, out of good will, to continue to
      support open-access, the degree of control a combined
      AOL/Time Warner will exercise over Internet access and the
      development of new media technologies shows that "market
      forces" are no guarantor of democratic, competitive media.
      The American public should not have to rely on the kindness
      of corporate executives to protect its access to the free
      flow of information.

      Open-access is critical not only to assure the public of
      fast, affordable connections to the Internet, but because
      without it, the medium will increasingly grow to resemble
      cable television, where content is controlled by a handful
      of interconnected firms. High-speed connections will do the
      public no good if all they find on the Internet is the same
      corporate-dominated, advertising-driven content they get
      from traditional media.

      An independent, dynamic and diverse media is crucial to a
      healthy democracy. As the Internet becomes a more integral
      part of the U.S. media, it is vital that democratically
      accountable regulatory agencies step up and assure that the
      public interest is the overriding factor in the development
      of these new technologies. I urge the FCC to act now to
      create rules to guarantee open access. I urge the DOJ and
      the FTC to investigate the antitrust issues involved in the
      merger as well.




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