AT&T/BellSouth & Cisco: Business Partners in the Marketplace and at the FCC

The FCC’s General Counsel has quoted from a letter Cisco sent urging the FCC to swifly act on the AT&T-BellSouth mega broadband merger. The Counsel just gave FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell permission to participate in the proceeding (to his credit, McDowell recognizes there is a conflict of interest). But Cisco’s plea is mere special interest lobbying for its “strategic” business partner-AT&T. Also see these links. FCC Counsel Feder should have acknowledged such ties when he quoted from the Cisco letter (as well as with the BellSouth/Cisco connection). It’s another illustration why the FCC needs a thorough ethical house cleaning. The agency requires an in-house watchdog whose duty is to the public–and not the corporate interests the FCC is intended to oversee. The public deserves to be protected by the appointment of an independent ombudsperson whose duties would be to represent the interest of the average consumer. One of the first reports that should be made is a list of the “revolving door” personnel between the media and telecom industry and FCC. It is shameful that so many FCC chairs, commissioners and senior staff seek employment from the very interests they govern. Role models are Gloria Tristani and Nick Johnson, who pursued non-profit and education work after their terms of office. The golden revolving door list should be made very public.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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