Tag Archives: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

Net neutrality race: Phil Scott follows Montana, New York and New Jersey’s lead

In a press release on Thursday Republican Governor Scott announced he issued an executive order requiring that state contractors comply with net neutrality standardsthus following the lead of Democratic governors in Montana and New York and New Jersey who first signed similar orders back in January.scottmoves1

Vtdigger.com: The governor’s order directs the Agency of Administration to amend its procedures to ensure that internet providers who contract with the state comply with net neutrality standards, according to a news release from the Scott administration

The governor’s executive order would prevent internet companies who contract with the state from blocking content, engaging in paid prioritization of internet services or acting to “throttle, impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of Internet content, application, or service.”

Scott’s order came after a state senate committee passed legislation (S.289) aimed at the same goal: to stop FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s repeal of Obama-era rules that had prohibited broadband providers from blocking or slowing websites or charging for higher-quality content and service. Similar legislation is under consideration in the Vermont House.

Other challenges to the Trump-era FCC rule change out ahead of Scott’s Thursday order include one by Vermont AG T.J. Donovan. He earlier joined attorneys general in twenty-one states in a lawsuit against the FCC to keep net neutrality. And nationally our entire congressional delegation has opposed Chairman Pai’s rule change from the start.

Governor Scott did include an exclusionperhaps a regulatory loophole: “Waivers to these Procedures may be granted by the Secretary only upon receipt of a written justification from a State Agency and a finding by the Secretary [that] a waiver would serve a legitimate and significant interest of the State,” the order says.

In fairness, it must be noted that the Senate version of the bill as of our reading has a similar passage: The Secretary of Administration may waive the prohibition on paid prioritization and preferential treatment under subdivision (b)(1)(C) of this section if the Internet service provider demonstrates and the Secretary finds that the practice would serve a legitimate and significant public interest and would not harm the open nature of the Internet in Vermont.

But, it’s good that Governor Scott has finally decided to enter the already-underway race to save net neutrality, however late his start. Because, you know, the internet just won’t run right when blocked, slowed, and throttled.

Fighting the FCC: A governor’s executive order mandates net neutrality

[Updated: New York Governor Cuomo followed Montana Governor Bullock’s lead this morning (1/24/18) and signed a similar executive order barring the state from contracting with internet service providers unless they agree to follow net neutrality. Gov. Cuomo said. “With this executive order, we reaffirm our commitment to freedom and democracy and help ensure that the internet remains free and open to all.”]

Way out West in the state of Montana there’s a showdownit’s Bullock versus Pai. Democratic Governor Steve Bullock has become the first to implement net neutrality requirements for state contracts. “This is a simple step states can take to preserve and protect net neutrality. We can’t wait for folks in Washington DC to come to their senses and reinstate these rules,” Bullock said,  according to the Hill.com The order says that in order to receive a contract with the state government, internet service providers must not engage in blocking or throttling web content or create internet fast lanes.

This directive challenges FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s recent rule change on net neutrality.Apaitoll3


Montana  wants to maintain the rules prohibiting broadband providers from blocking or slowing websites or charging for higher-quality content and service that have recently been withdrawn by FCC chairman Ajit Pai.  The widely popular rules were originally put in force under the Obama era FCC.

And there are plenty of challenges to the rule change involving legislation floating around state houses. Attorneys general in twenty one states, including Vermont AG T.J. Donovan, are suing the FCC to keep net neutrality. Senators Leahy and Sanders and our lone Congress-critter Peter Welch also opposed the FCC on this scheme to undo net neutrality.

At the state level Secretary of State Jim Condos has also voiced his support for maintaining net neutrality. This past spring there was a joint resolution in the legislature urging the FCC to retain net neutrality.

But for now Governor Bullock’s executive order in Montana is the first executive order designed to accomplish the same goal.  In a statement, Bullock’s office urged other states concerned about net neutrality to use its order as a template for their own efforts:  Governor Bullock invited other governors and statehouses to join him. Governor Bullock’s administration will offer the framework to other states who wish to follow. “To every governor and every legislator in every statehouse across the country, and to every small business and every Fortune 500 company that wants a free and open internet when they buy services: I will personally email this to you,” [added emphasis]

State-mandated net neutrality could be a popular issue for someone to champion here in Vermont. At the time of the FCC rule change a spokesperson for Governor Scott (R) said he was “disappointed” with it. It is not impossible but realistically it is hard to imagine Gov. Scott taking an action as aggressive as issuing an executive order like Governor Bullock’s certainly not without some prompting toward perhaps channeling his “disappointment.”

Maybe someone else will pick it up. Such as, say, someone who not only favors net neutrality but might have hopes to run against Phil Scott for governor. Someone who values the future, maybe, someone like 13-year-old Ethan Sonneborn, of Bristol, who has announced he is running. Somebody get a comment from the young man!

FCC boosts Trump favorite Sinclair Broadcasting’s merger

The FCC, headed by Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed under President Obama and recently named by Trump as chairman, has eased restrictions in order to make it easier for media companies to own more stations in more markets:

The Federal Communications Commission, on a 2-1 Republican-led vote on Thursday, restored the practice of counting just part of some stations’ audience.[…] The change adds room to grow for companies including Sinclair, Nexstar Media Group Inc. […] Sinclair, with 173 TV stations, is working to finalize a deal to buy Tribune, which owns stations in major markets including New York, Chicago, and Miami.

Sinclair Broadcast Group  is a family-owned business based in Maryland. They own and operate 173 stations in 81 markets covering 24% of American households mostly in the South and Midwest. Their local affiliates include Fox, ABC, CBS, and others.trumpcast2

SBG has a history of using its stations to promote a conservative message and also attempted to influence the 2004 election in favor of the Republican Party, says Media Matters. Days before the 2004 presidential election the network pre-empted regular programming to run an anti-John Kerry film.

More recently the Washington Post published: How the nation’s largest owner of TV stations helped Donald Trump’s campaign. In it they document Sinclair Broadcasting’s intentional tilt toward Trump. This included directing their stations toward favorable to neutral coverage of his campaign and an emphasis on negative reporting regarding the Clinton campaign.

Trump’s right hand man, son-in-law Jared Kushner, reportedly acknowledged that the campaign struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcasting, providing them access in exchange for wide coverage. The agreement gave Trump’s campaign a local edge over national networks in swing states such as Florida and Ohio where SBG dominates. With a greater local audience assured Kushner said simply “it’s math.”

After their planned merger, when finalized Sinclair will have added 26% to their existing nationwide coverage. Factoring in overlapping market share between Sinclair and the company it plans to acquire new coverage will reach 42%. Think how effective the newer bigger stronger Sinclair propaganda could be for Trump and other GOP favorites the next time around.

And don’t expect PBS news reporting to pick up the slack. Trump’s “skinny” GOP budget doesn’t just target the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (the major funding arm for PBS) with sizable cuts but with total elimination. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney broadcast his administration’s plans to “unwind our involvement in CPB” loud and clear: […] [the budget] will see a zero next to it; the policy is we’re ending federal involvement with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Trump may continue his 100-day stumble-and-flail at day-to-day governinghis new role. But it’s just not his world. His most successful role was as reality TV star, playing a caricature of himself as a world’s best deal maker/businessman.

But he does know brand marketing is all about grabbing control of the largest friendly market-share coverage. For Donald it is not about fair or balancedfact or fiction. As his right hand man, son-in-law Kushner admitted “It’s math.”

Of course, the next generation might have trouble with understanding that concept once Sesame Street’s “The Count”  isn’t around to teach them their numbers.