Commentary

Net Neutrality Survival Basic for Women's Media

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Net neutrality is a principle that everyone reading this article must understand and defend. Without it, you might be reading something that a male-owned corporation preferred you to see; something about lip gloss, perhaps.

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Big Companies Winning

The battle over preserving net neutrality has been raging for years. And the big companies appear to be winning.

In December, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)--the agency responsible for overseeing our nation's communications infrastructure-- passed weak, loophole-filled rules. The rules offer some limited net neutrality protections for wireline Internet, but far fewer protections for wireless Internet that you access through smartphones and other mobile devices.

Under these wireless rules, Verizon, for example, would be free to block a streaming application developed by a female-owned radio station or a radio-streaming application that featured content produced by and targeted at women.

If this wasn't already a blow to the millions of people who have petitioned the FCC for strong Internet protections, Congress is now considering a move to overturn the rules and strip the FCC of its authority. A House committee has already voted to nullify the FCC's rules, and the full House may vote on the resolution this week. The likelihood that such a resolution will pass the Senate is smaller, though not inconceivable.

Net neutrality really is the free speech issue of our time, and if we lose the Internet, we may never have another platform like it. Already, the FCC has given away too much.

Congress must not fail women by eroding the protections we do have and effectively muting our voices.

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Megan Tady is a blog editor and writer for the nonprofit media reform organization Free Press. She will be moderating a panel about women and media policy at the National Conference for Media Reform in Boston April 8-10.

For more information:

National Conference for Media Reform:
http://conference.freepress.net/home

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This is a great piece but there's one thing I'd take you up on: you indicate there are fewer women experts in news shows as if that's men's fault. But I've heard and read a few pieces that say the reason for this is that women don't put themselves forward as experts. There was a Financial Times piece on this last year that I now can't unearth. Also a great piece on NPR's On The Media featuring a guy who teaches the ITP course at Tisch at NYU and found his female students would never show off about their work (in tech), which would get them noticed, whereas the guys always did. FT piece, by a woman, said similar thing: she was soliciting women to write op-eds and many replied along the lines of "I'm just not ready yet." Many women sadly still don't have enough confidence in themselves to put themselves out there as experts.

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