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Meeting Expectations

Free Press and Public Knowledge have been hopping mad over what they view as secret meetings between FCC Chairman Julius Genachwoski’s chief of staff and industry players over network neutrality legislation that could clarifying the FCC’s regulatory authority over broadband.

Free Press even took out a full-page ad in the Washington post to rip into cable and telcos, comparing them to Oil companies and financial firms in a gigantic headline font usually reserved for armistices in world wars.

But one industry player pondered what all the fuss was about given a meeting last fall with White House Tech Policy advisor Susan Crawford that seemed heavy on public interest and online content folks but light on industry players with skin in the game.

According to a White House meetings list posted online at, representatives of Free Press and Public Knowledge, as well as Google and Skype and the Open Internet Coalition–of which Free Press and Pubilc Knowledge are members–were all at a meeting with Crawford on Oct. 20, 2009.

That was only two days before the FCC issued its notice of proposed rulemaking to expand and codify its network neutrality guidelines.

“Curious why there wasn’t a full page ad complaining of lack of transparency and closed door meetings for [that] meeting, “said the industry player, [a meeting] which no one knew about at the time, lacked transparency, and was held two days before FCC launched its network neutrality NPRM.”

“The White House does not have oversight duties, but the FCC does, and met with the companies it oversees to help them avoid future oversight,” said a Free Press spokesperson.