Tuesday, February 21, 2006


AUDIO: Paul Riismandel, a/k/a "mediageek" wraps of network-neutrality issue in 30 minutes of MP3 audio

"Network neutrality" refers to the idea that the networks which carry Internet and other broadband traffic should be content neutral. Time-Warner cable, for example, shouldn't have the right to refuse to carry bits-and-bytes from Disney because they compete with a Time-Warner content property.

Paul Riismandel, a communication-studies graduate student at the University of Illinois C-U, has since 2000 written a website called "mediageek", which now includes a weekly audio podcast. His latest -- Feb. 10, 2006, does in 30 minutes an excellent job of describing the issue, and includes snippets of Feb. 7, 2006, congressional testimony.

This is a critical issue for the future of journalism. If content providers have to worry about whether what they produce is going to be blocked by the pipe owner, that is a chilling form of conformity and prior restraint. If we get to the point where a handful of companies control all the pipes into the nation's homes, how easy would it be for a U.S. president to make a few phone calls to key executives, threaten punitive regulation or withholding of some key approvals, to get those pipe owners to block or penalize politically non-mainstream thought?

A.J. Liebling once wrote: "Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one." In the digital age, if a handful of companies own the virtual "presses" -- the fiber optic cables that carry digital content, what becomes of "free press"? How do ensure open pipes? By competition, or by regulation? One or the other -- perhaps both.


Here is his written description of his podcast:

Here's the jump page to the MP3:

And here is the MP3 download itself:

-- Posted by Bill Densmore / click below to add a comment

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