Washington Post: No one’s neutral about net neutrality

Written by admin on December 21st, 2010

The Washington Post discusses the lobbying efforts being directed towards the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules, just approved today.

Washington Post

“Those that didn’t have the money to pay for a lobbyist in Washington weren’t unrepresented but they certainly weren’t represented to the same extent the major [telecommunications] carriers were,” said Joel Kelsey, policy adviser to the open-Internet group Free Press.

The Alpine Group‘s link to one commissioner was likely attractive to the clients that made it the most often hired net neutrality lobbying shop in town. Though the 17-member group does not specialize in telecommunications or cable industry issues, its lobbyists include a former legislative assistant to the House committee that oversees telecommunications regulation and a law school grad who once interned for FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps. The American Cable Association, the Business Software Alliance, the Recording Industry Association of America and Warner Music Group all signed on with the firm.

Solo lobbyist Mitch F. Rose and the Fritts Group boutique firm weren’t far behind. Rose, previously a vice president of government relations at the Walt Disney Co. and consultant to the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, was tapped by the industry group and companies such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Fritts Group founder Eddie Fritts spent 23 years as the chief executive of the National Association of Broadcasters, making his firm an ideal choice for DirecTV, the Motion Picture Association of America, News Corp. and others.

The work of these firms and others was crucial to Genachowski’s recent indication that his proposal will ultimately include a usage-based pricing provision that grants Internet service providers “meaningful flexibility” to manage their networks — a victory for ISPs. AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable have collectively employed more than 60 firms for net neutrality-related work, including shops such as Capitol Solutions, Crossroads Strategies, Ogilvy Government Relations and Quinn, Gillespie & Associates.

Even if the commission approves the proposal, influencers expect the work to continue. Congressional representatives critical of the FCC’s push to crown itself Internet regulator, including incoming House Commerce and Energy Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), have already warned that the next step is a bevy of hearings and inquiries that will keep K Street busy


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