Democratic Senators Push for Net Neutrality in Video

A trio of Senate Democrats have teamed up in an online video to hammer the FCC for what they argue is a big media hand-out.

Their target is FCC chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to reverse the common carrier (title II) classification of internet access—including wired and wireless and interconnections—under the 2015 Open Internet order adopted by the then Democratic majority, as well as eliminate the general conduct standard and reconsider the bright-line rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. 

Dividing up the duties in the video are Ed Markey (Mass.), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Al Franken (Minn.), arguably some of the longest and strongest critics of ISPs, with Franken, a former Saturday Night Live staple, providing some comic relief.

They talk about "big, wealthy, deep pocketed" businesses wanting a fast lane that favors their content and chokes off competing start-ups.

The video includes footage of Pai, and though it is actually flattering—rather than the grainy low-color videos used in political attack ads—the message is not. Markey says the FCC, under Pai, is handing over its agenda to "the biggest, most powerful communications companies at the expense of every ordinary [Markey's broad-A Massachusetts accent makes it sound like "oddinary"] American and every little startup software and internet company."

Franken then chimed in to clarify that Markey is saying "ordinary," eliciting a chuckle from Markey in the background.

But the underlying message is serious: Franken said the issue was also freedom of speech and of the press.

John Eggerton

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.