Olmos to FCC: Stand And Deliver New Net Rules

Add veteran actor Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica, Stand and Deliver) to those speaking out against the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s decision vacating the heart of the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet order.

In a YouTube video made for the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Olmos talks about the value of the ’Net to groups he supports that are advocating for social and economic justice, as well as for accessing Twitter and Facebook, hearing alternative news, or getting the best deal on goods and services.

He urges Web users to sign an NHMC petition calling for new rules to prevent potential blocking, discriminating and censoring of websites and apps. “A recent court decision jeopardizes the freedom we have all come to enjoy on the Internet,” he said in the video. “But hope is not lost; the court left the door open for the Federal Communications Commission to right this wrong.”

And he wants FCC chair Tom Wheeler to reassert the FCC’s authority over Internet-service providers, something Wheeler has said he plans to do in the coming days.

Olmos won’t have to worry about the top ISP, Comcast, which is still subject to network neutrality rules until 2018 no matter what happens in the courts or at the FCC. The cable operator committed to them as part of its agreement to buy NBCUniversal.

If the FCC approves the just-announced Comcast meld with Time Warner Cable, all that enjoyable Internet freedom would apply to a combined broadband provider holding more than 30% of the U.S. market.

Comcast is even on Olmos’s side on the general principle of restoring the rules for everyone else — not a big surprise, as Comcast would be at a competitive disadvantage otherwise.

Comcast supports restoring anti-blocking and anti-discrimination rules so long as that also means advanced telecom services are deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion to all Americans.

As for the 2018 sunset, FCC merger conditions might include extending the network-neutrality commitment beyond then for Comcast and TWC. Comcast executive vice president David Cohen would not speculate on that possibility during a call with reporters last week, saying it was hard enough to negotiate with the government without having to negotiate with the press.

If You Need an Ultralight Pilot in Nepal, Call Max

The Wire enjoys cable shows about coffee, adventure, geology and mountains. So it was no surprise we were watching both Travel Channel’s Dangerous Grounds, with coffee roaster La Colombe Torrefaction’s co-founder, Todd Carmichael, seeking rare coffee beans in exotic places, and Science docuseries Rise of the Continents last week.

Both episodes were partly set in Nepal, with Carmichael hoping to fill a big order for restaurateur Mario Batali and geologist host Iain Stewart in Rise of the Continents explaining what happened after India collided with Asia eons ago.

We were a bit stunned, though, when both episodes saw the hosts rise into thin air in light aircraft piloted by the same man — a mustachioed Russian called Max.

Could this be coincidence? Does Max have a great agent? Does he want his own reality show?

A brief backstory presented on Dangerous Grounds was tantalizing. Carmichael said Max is 70 and piloted MiG fighters for the Russians before flying Himalayas sightseers above Pokhara, Nepal. In the show, the pair scouts prospective coffee farms in an ultralight plane that looks like a go-cart with wings.

Stewart, in the Eurasia episode of BBC-produced Rise of the Continents, flies alongside Max in a more solid-looking, enclosed light plane and compliments the captain on his CD selection.

Discovery-owned Science referred The Wire to Avia Club Nepal’s Facebook page, which identifies him as “Captain Max,” the safety director.

He clearly has a sense of humor to go along with good looks and skill: Facebook photos show him taking passengers aloft dressed as Santa Claus. Presumably a safe landing after enjoying those spectacular vistas would be the best gift ever.

Dangerous Grounds ends its second season on Tuesday, March 18. Rise of the Continents episodes air next on Science on Monday, Feb. 24.

— Kent Gibbons

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.