Oliver Puts New Twist On Open Internet

Comedian John Oliver's net neutrality call to arms appears to have been the culprit for some FCC Web site issues Monday.

Some folks had issues accessing the link on the FCC Web site to the 484-page incentive auction order Monday. It may not have been the size of that file, but the size of the Web equivalent of the Wicked Witch of the West's army of flying monkeys.

In a bit on Last Week Tonight Sunday night on HBO, comedian John Oliver provided a wickedly funny explanation of network neutrality, taking aim at FCC chairman Tom Wheeler as a former cable lobbyist now overseeing the cable regulator, at new commissioner Michael O'Rielly for excerpts of him in the Communications Act policy weeds, and Comcast as a lobbying giant with ties to the Obama Administration. Wheeler had no comment, but an aide to O'Rielly said he had seen it and thought it was "hilarious."

The bit ended with an exhortation to file comments with the FCC. Backed by a screen with "FCC.GOV/COMMENTS" on it, Oliver said: "We need to get out there and for once in your life focus your rage in a useful direction. Seize your moment my lovely trolls. Turn on 'caps lock,' and fly my pretties, fly, fly...."

Pointing to FCC tweets about Web access troubles Monday, Deadline Hollywood's Lisa De Moraes speculated that Oliver fans were the culprit.

An FCC spokesperson said Tuesday that  it was "unclear" whether the comment line’s  “several-hour-outage" and FCC web issues were "directly related to the Oliver segment."

"Whoops. It seems that you've all crashed part of the FCC website. I hope you're proud of yourselves," Oliver tweeted Tuesday.

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.