Francis Ford Coppola Video Takes Aim at Title II Rollback

Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola has posted a YouTube video version of an open letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai on network neutrality.

That comes as the FCC voted Thursday to launch a proceeding to roll back Title II classification of ISPs and potentially the rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.

In the open letter, Coppola said:

"Dear Mr. Pai,

"As any boy who built a ham radio or learned the Morse code to get his radio license knows, the FCC has been the heart of this country's quest for communication locality and even-handed 'fairness'. It has protected the citizens' right to own and control the means of communication until present times. Since the earliest days when the giant AT&T twice attempted to wrestle control of radio broadcasting and was ultimately prohibited, the FCC has been the hero of our most talented innovators and artists. That is its proud history.

"Trusting the leadership of huge corporations with America's artistic heritage is a crucial mistake, and can already be seen in the 'monotony' of contemporary major studio cinema. The Internet was conceived and designed to be a free medium, with network neutrality assured and the resurgent power of big business held in check on behalf of the public's greater interests.

"The changes you are making at the FCC will only make the fragile balance between artist and businessman more impossible to maintain. I assure you that none of the films that I or my contemporaries are known and celebrated for could exist today in such a climate. Please appeal to the artist in yourself to protect us, something the FCC always has done.


"Francis Ford Coppola"

For its part, the Writers Guild of America, East, which represents TV And movie writers, urged the public to weigh in.

"Consumers and content creators have benefited from the FCC's longstanding commitment to this principle which embodies the simple concept that powerful entities must not control what people watch, read and communicate online," it said. "Now more than ever, the American people need and deserve enforceable net neutrality rules, yet multi-billion-dollar technology, telecommunications, and entertainment companies are poised to bend those rules to favor their own immediate self-interest and continue to pump up record-breaking profits. This grab comes in a political environment increasingly hostile to individuals and news organizations that have the temerity to speak truth to power.”

“The war on the Open Internet being waged by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Michael O’Rielly is an attack on free speech, competition and the public interest," said the Writers Guild of America, West, taking aim at the proposal voted at the May 18 meeting.

“Chairman Pai has described the Open Internet rules as ‘a panoply of heavy-handed economic regulations’ that could harm ‘one of the most incredible free market innovations in history.’ This doublespeak – the claim that every attempt to protect true free market competition from monopoly control is necessarily a regulatory attack on the free market – is pure Orwellian demagoguery.  In reality, the Internet is free now, and can remain free from monopoly control by ISPs, but only if the Open Internet rules remain. 

“While it does not come as a surprise that this Administration’s Internet policies favor a handful of powerful corporations at the expense of society, it is nevertheless alarming to witness yet another planned repeal of regulations that benefit consumers.”


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.