Leave it to Comcast to inject a note of tragic absurdity into a debate over consumer rights and the Internet.
This the same Comcast that is throttling a popular Internet application, and that packed a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hearing with paid seat-warmers. And now, 9/11.
In March 4 testimony to the Economic Matters Committee of the Maryland House of Delegates whether broadband companies should disclose to consumers where their services are deployed and where they aren’t, Comcast lobbyist Sean M. Looney invoked the Giuliani defense: consumers can’t be given information about broadband in their neighborhoods because of… 9/11.Yes, in yet another misuse of that tragic occurrence,Comcast invoked that same all-purpose shield perpetually invoked by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in his presidential campaign.
Del. Tom Hucker (D-Dist. 20) is a founder of Progressive Maryland. As a result, it was very disappointing to see him introduce a bill on behalf of Verizon and Comcast that could impede the ability of the state to determine which parts of the population have access to the best in Internet services, and which don't.
Over the next couple of weeks, the Maryland General Assembly will consider a modest step in helping to further the spread of high-speed Internet services in the state.It could be a positive step, or a harmful misstep.
Most state officials who know the telecommunications world know they have little power to influence the deployment of broadband services.The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in its “wisdom,” has preempted most of what state governments can do in the way of regulation.
What states should be able to do, however, is to collect information about broadband, much as it collects information about interconnection agreements.That’s what Del. Herman Taylor (D-Dist. 14) wants to do with his legislation HB 987 to require broadband providers to report their deployment to the state Public Service Commission (PSC), which would in turn post the information online.The bill has been cross-filed in the State Senate as SB 515, by Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Dist. 20).
(For the record, I am working with Taylor on the bill.Further, he represents the area in which I live.)
Kenny Burns, despite his opinion of me, makes a good point: the reason Maryland Public Television's new all-Spanish channel V-me isn't being shown yet in the Washington media market is due to the vagaries of FCC regulation, not Comcast as I had thought earlier. His follow-up post is also pretty good.
I'll just add that Del. Patrick McDonough's plan to have, in effect, a board of commissars determine the content of MPT's new digital channels is indeed disturbing, but also instructive: In today's Republican Party, concerns for freedom of the press and politicization of the media take a back seat to beating back the Brown Menace.
To wit, McDonough complains that MPT should devote its programming more to "health care, the elderly or children's issues." Which is totally not what V-me offers:
For parents and caregivers, public TV means quality pre-school programming. V-me builds on this tradition, devoting 36 hours a week to creating a healthy, positive environment, where preschool children can learn and have fun in Spanish.
At a time where there is so much concern about the quantity and quality of children’s television in mainstream Spanish media, V-me is proud to be the first national network devoting its entire kid’s programming offer to world-class educational pre-school content
Starting the day, and on afternoons and weekends, V-me’s diverse lifestyle line-up reflects the high interest among Latinos for content relating to health, parenting, nutrition, travel, food, home, design, self-improvement, sports and more.
Jean Marbella imagines what would happen if the now-convicted Thomas Bromwell got the same outpouring from his friends as did Scooter Libby when he was in the slammer:
Dear Judge Motz,
You may think we are contacting you as a major corporation that owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Bromwell for the bill he pushed in the General Assembly, saving us, by his tally, $75 million.
No, we write as just a simple company, no different from any mom-and-pop store on the corner, struggling with the same issue: Do you know how hard it is to find good help these days? There are only so many first ladies of Maryland, after all, and so if weren't for Tommy Bromwell referring his two sons to us, why, we're not sure what our Human Resources Division would have done to fill our executive ranks.
That is the Tommy Bromwell we know: a selfless, caring father, looking out the next generation -- of Bromwells, at least.
Del. Maggie McIntosh of Baltimore is trying to build support for her plan for a construction fee that would help clean up the Chesapeake Bay and curb sprawl. The building industry is, naturally, still opposed to the plan.
Now that Baltimore has passed a citywide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, a statewide ban may not be far behind. The tobacco industry and the restaurant owners are putting up a hard fight, but ultimately, I think the tide of history is against them.
Maryland Superintendent Nancy Grasmick has upheld Montgomery County's pilot program for a reality-based sex education curriculum. Will this be the last we hear of the right-wing Sacroturf (h/t to Bruce Godfrey for the term) groups that have been trying to hijack the program for over two years? One can only hope.
After all the heartache we endured with last year's BGE rate crisis, is the General Assembly really going to put off a permanent reform of the utility industry until next year? BGE rates are expected to go up 50% in June. I guess the expectation is, let the Public Service Commission handle it -- although I don't see how, under the terms of the rate deferral plan, they have much leeway to reduce rates, or even soften the blow of the rate increase. Any electric utility wonks in the house want to clarify?
File under Dog Bites Man: Verizon entered the cable market in December in Montgomery County, with the promise of lower rates and better service. And now? Both Verizon and Comcast's rates are going up. Sweet, sweet duopoly.
And if you've ever wondered what's wrong with Maryland's Aviation Authority (which runs BWI) and Transportation Authority (which runs the toll roads), you now have your answer: Internet porn.