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Doyle Says Non-Neutral Net Isn't Competing Voice

Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. Mike Doyle, vice chairman of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee, weighed in remotely at the FCC's media ownership public hearing in Harrisburg, Pa., Friday (Feb. 23) to say the existence of the Web, particularly without network neutrality guarantees, should not be used to justify further media ownership dereg.

In a letter that he asked to be read into the record of the hearing, Doyle said that "then-Chairman Michael Powell made the mistake of acting as if the internet was an independent source of national and local news- a mistake repudiated by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals when they remanded the Commission's rules on this very point," he said.

Doyle said that though he believed the 'net "has the potential to give everyone an equal platform to report about and opine on the goings-on around them," and that "an open and free internet could be considered the first truly accessible tool to make the spirit of First Amendment come alive for everyone in the country," he also said that "without an internet available to all that guarantees fast speeds to anyone's content, that potential is just a promise."

Doyle said that only 11% of the respondents in a survey said they use the internet as a source of local news and information, and said that half of the sites they did use were TV and newspapers sites.

"The web is a valuable, perhaps essential, tool for expanding and enriching public debate in our country, he said, "It has already greatly enhanced the nation's discourse on public affairs.  But until it is as pervasive as broadcast media and newspapers - and until new websites truly compete with those traditional media outlets (and the web sites they control) - the web's existence should not be used to justify media consolidation."