Donâ€™t expect much coverage by local TV station news departments on the plan to kill-off community franchising of cable. The powerful National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) supports AT&T and Verizonâ€™s quest to dump local cable oversight. Thatâ€™s because the telcoâ€™s are doling out money and probably special broadband favors to both stations and the networks. The phone companies desperately need programming; the broadcast industry wants cash. Last month, Verizon announced a deal with CBS that likely gave the network lots of money for its programming and a way it â€œcan use the bandwidth and flexibility of [Verizonâ€™s FIOS] fiber network to reach their customers in innovative ways.”
We think lawmakers should demand to see what the terms of such deals areâ€”especially as the debate over â€œnetwork neutralityâ€ moves to the House floor and the Senate. If a CBS is now getting preferential treatment with Verizonâ€™s broadband networkâ€”such as free local caching, faster transmission speeds, and prominent portal placementâ€”the public deserves to know. The behind closed-doors negotiations going on between the networks, stations and the telephone lobby also underscores why we need network neutrality. Broadcastersâ€”still the leading provider of news in the U.S.â€”will have deep economic and political ties to the two dominant providers of broadband. In another words, they are unlikely to report negatively on their financial benefactors and partners. We need to ensure a U.S. broadband world where serious news can be readily distributedâ€”and that includes reporting on the U.S. broadband monopoly.