WGA, Bateman Urge Congress to Maintain Internet’s Independence

Apr 22, 2008  •  Post A Comment

A major Hollywood union and actress Justine Bateman are urging Congress to ensure the Internet remains an alternative force for consumer choice in the face of dramatic media consolidation.
Patric Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West, today told the Senate Commerce Committee that repeal of the financial syndication rules that limited TV and cable networks’ ability to own programming, together with ownership consolidation, have lessened independent programmers’ ability to get their work seen by consumers. He said the Internet “holds an incredible potential” to revive choice—if that’s allowed.
“The Internet holds an incredible potential to revive a vibrant community,” said Mr. Verrone, warning that a lack of action could instead lead to the domination of broadcast and cable media extending to the Internet.
Ms. Bateman starred in the long-running sitcom “Family Ties” and is a founding partner of Internet content site FM78.tv. She said “Family Ties” would be unlikely to make it on TV today in the face of the consolidation that has led to fewer companies making many of the decisions on what gets aired.
“When I started acting in the early 1980s, creativity in TV and film was still rampant,” she said. “The demise of this creative setting is directly proportional to the increase of media consolidation.”
The panel is considering legislation from Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., that would tell the Federal Communications Commission to ensure favored content providers don’t get a faster path to a consumer’s door while others see their content degraded or slowed.
Senators argued over whether the regulation was needed.
FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin told the committee his agency has adequate authority to deal with problems, but admitted Comcast has questioned the FCC’s ability to act. Mr. Martin said the FCC has heard suggestions that Comcast slowed or degraded downloads from peer-to-peer Web site videos to consumers at times when there was no congestion on its networks; the company has said it slowed some downloads only to alleviate congestion. Mr. Martin the FCC has not finished investigating Comcast’s action.
A Comcast spokeswoman said that while the company has managed peer-to-peer networking, it now does so only to reduce congestion and ensure the bulk of its users get good Internet speed.


  1. And we trust the BIG companies, why ??

  2. Great, just great. And we trust these people why? It seems that they are just making tv worse. The interenet I feel cannot be restricted. Because, mainly so many people worldwide are on it and how can you dictate what they watch, you can’t. They don’t abide by our rules. I for one don’t mind if the internet becomes a higher resource for television, yet I would prefer the comfort of fliping through channels and seeing the art of acting, not the art of “reality tv.”

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