NAB Neutral on Net Neutrality

Broadcasters may be fighting for a foothold in the broadband future, but they are not making much of a stir in the network neutrality docket.

But religious broadcasters are an exception, taking aim at alleged blocking not by ISP's but by edge providers.

A search of the FCC's docket—3.7 million comments at last count—found no "Broadcasting" in the "name of filer" field, and only one "broadcasters"—the National Religious Broadcasters.

A National Association of Broadcasters spokesperson would only say NAB was remaining "neutral" on the issue, but NRB weighed in squarely behind the FCC's proposal to use Sec. 706 authority—not Title II common carrier regs—to buttress new Open Internet rules.

NRB said that if it thought it had to have more authority than Title I, Sec. 706, it should ask Congress for it.

NRB wants the FCC to prevent content blocking, but it is not focused on ISPS. Instead it talks about the censorship of speech rights it says is practiced by edge providers, which it argues have shown an "overall pattern" of squashing religious viewpoints on social platforms and App stores with takedown policies defended under the broad rubric of "hate speech."

"[I]t is worth noting that currently, edge providers are in the remarkable position of having it both ways when it come to deciding whether to block certain public ideas from their platforms for no better reason than that they find the ideas offensive or disagreeable," it told the FCC. "No FCC regulations restrain them, and they are immune from legal ramifications regardless of whether they block the most harmless content, or fail to block the most vicious incitements to violence."

And while they did not show up as a separate entry, the National Black Religious Broadcasters joined another filing that also said Sec. 706 was the right way to go, and Title II the wrong.

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.