It appears that two can play at the game of six-figure ad campaigns targeted at Federal Communications Commission nominees — in this case, the nomination of Gigi Sohn to fill the vacant Democratic (majority) seat.
A week after a group called The One Country Project (OCP) said it had launched a six-figure ad campaign meant to keep Sohn off the commission, the Communications Workers of America Monday (April 25) said it had launched a six-figure campaign to make sure she did get the seat.
Also: Industry Groups Urge Senate to Confirm Gigi Sohn
Sohn’s nomination has yet to officially be discharged from the Senate Commerce Committee after it the panel was tied along party lines on recommending that the full Senate confirm her. Now the full Senate must discharge the nomination from the committee before it can vote to confirm or deny.
CWA is all for confirming.
In its digital ad campaign, the union is saying that it is “dark money corporate groups” that are trying to block the nomination to stave off any actions “that would help ensure all Americans have reliable and affordable access to broadband.”
Actually, the current FCC, politically tied at 2-2, has been taking a number of actions to promote broadband deployment. It has not, however, been able to move on Big Ticket issues along partisan divides, like net neutrality rules, which the CWA supports.
Fans of Sohn argue that internet service providers and some broadcasters are pushing back for fear, not without reason, that a Democratic FCC majority will restore the Title II-based net neutrality rules ISPs oppose. and restore some broadcast-ownership rules that station groups say keep them from being able to compete in a multiplatform world where cable and over-the-top have no similar constraints. They also argue Republicans are trying to block nominees in general as they prepare for what they hope is a midterm takeover.
“Gigi Sohn has long been a strong advocate on behalf of consumer broadband access, a supporter of workers in the telecommunications and technology industries, and a proponent for an open, free and fair internet,” Shane Larson, CWA senior director of government affairs and policy, said in outlining the ad campaign. “The delay in her confirmation makes it harder for the FCC to serve the American people, which is how the corporations that the agency is meant to regulate like it. It’s past time for the Senate to confirm her so that the FCC can have a full complement of commissioners and get to work.”
The ad campaign will run on Facebook and news websites in Arizona, West Virginia and Nevada, given that CWA sees the votes of Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada) as key to getting enough to confirm Sohn.
In other Sohn news, the National Religious Broadcasters has come out against the nomination, saying it fears Sohn will use the FCC to censor conservative voices. Sohn has been critical of Fox News Channel and Sinclair Broadcast Group, but has also said she would not use the FCC to censor speech of any kind but would approach decisions based on the facts and the law. ■
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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