Media reform definitionsYou've probably heard the buzz lately about things like media reform, Net neutrality and telecommunications legislation. These are issues that could affect anyone who uses a television, phone or the internet in important ways. Sometimes it's hard to make sense of it all, so we've provided this quick list of definitions, some based on information from FreePress.net. Free Press is a national non-partisan organization working to reform media. Click here to learn more.
The Issues: The bills now moving through state legislatures will influence how you will be able to use the communications networks of tomorrow. They’ll decide who will have access to new technologies and services and how much they’ll cost. The rules written now will determine if the broadest sources of culture and information will be available to everyone.
Media Reform: A movement of organizations and individuals working for more democratic media, including higher journalistic standards, quality entertainment, diversity, localism and political awareness.
Telcos: Large telecommunications companies like AT&T, Verizon and Qwest. They now offer internet and TV in addition to phone services, but they're trying to find ways provide these services without honoring consumers' rights to things like reasonable prices, community TV funding and unlimited internet access.
Federal Communications Commission: The FCC is an independent United States government agency, directly responsible to Congress. The FCC regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.
Net Neutrality: Net Neutrality means no discrimination on the Internet. States are considering measures to show their support for this fundamental principle that prevents big phone and cable companies from interfering or favoring certain Web sites and services based on their source, ownership or destination.
Video Franchising: States are deciding how to handle the entrance of new competitors — primarily phone companies — into the television market. Traditionally, cable companies have agreed to “local franchise agreements” with cities and towns. But now the companies are pushing to negotiate these deals statewide.
Build-Out Requirements: A key part of franchise agreements, build-out requirements prevent powerful cable and phone companies from “cherry-picking” certain wealthier neighborhoods while avoiding others. They make sure the entire community gets access to advanced networks on a reasonable timetable.
PEG/Public Access TV: In exchange for lucrative local franchises, video providers have provided public, educational and governmental (PEG) access channels — which broadcast local voices, cover local issues, and show exactly how local government works. Some of these outlets are now endangered.
Community Internet: High-speed broadband access is becoming a public necessity. In many places where many people cannot access or afford Internet service, local governments are working with innovative businesses to build “Community Internet” systems. Industry lobbyists have tried to outlaw these local competitors.