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Some Further Signs of Net-Neutrality Discontent

Network-neutrality activist group Fight for the Future has crowdfunded enough contributions to erect a half-dozen billboards targeting members of Congress who were early backers of Republican Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to roll back Title II regulation of broadband internet providers and review its 2015 Open Internet rules.

The idea is to try to discourage other legislators from jumping on the deregulatory bandwagon.

The billboards, erected in members’ home districts while Congress is in August recess, include ones targeting Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Some of billboards take aim at various hometown ISPs as well. The Ryan billboard (in Janesville, Wis.), for example, says: “Want slower, more expensive Internet? Rep. Paul Ryan supports Charter’s plan to destroy net neutrality. Ask him why.” Another includes Comcast in the message.

House GOP members have been talking with stakeholders and getting input on possible legislative approaches to clarifying the FCC’s network neutrality authority, but Democrats have signaled they have not been part of those conversations, and FTTF and other net neutrality supporters are skeptical.

“With no viable legislation on the table,” FTTF said, “net-neutrality supporters remain opposed to any attempt at legislation that would undermine the strong rules at the FCC.”

Other members — all Republican — getting the billboard treatment are Communications Subcommittee chair Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who was previously the target of a net neutrality billboard call-out given her leadership position; Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California; Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia and Sen. Roger Wicker of Jackson, Miss.

“Going forward, we plan to add more billboards for other representatives who come forward to support Pai’s plan,” an FTTF spokesman told The Wire.

John Eggerton
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.