cr> Newsletter with recommendations for action


Note from moderator:

Telecompost is always informative, but I'm posting this one because
it contains specific guidelines for letter-writing.

Not having gotten very far with the Congress, public-interest groups
in the telecom area are moving their focus to the FCC.



################                   #############
################                   ##          #
   ##                              #############
   ## ### #   ### ###  #  #    #   ##   #  ### ###
   ## #   #   #   #   # # #    #   ##  # # #    #
   ## ##  #   ##  #   # # ##  ##   ##  # # ###  #
   ## #   #   #   #   # # # ## #   ##  # #   #  #
   ## ### ### ### ###  #  #    #   ##   #  ###  #
               Free Speech Media, LLC
  Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
                   October 26, 1995
                      Number 17
Compiled, written, and edited by Coralee Whitcomb
Please direct comments and inquiries to •••@••.•••.
For more information on Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility, please write •••@••.••• or call
The Telecom Post is posted to several distribution lists and is also available
from the CPSR listserv.  To subscribe, send to •••@••.••• with the
message SUBSCRIBE TELECOM-POST YOUR NAME.  Unsubscribtion requests should
be sent to the list from which you receive the Telecom Post unless you
purposely subscribed to it through CPSR in which case you would write to
•••@••.••• with the message UNSUBSCRIBE TELECOM-POST.
The Telecom Post is posted more or less weekly.  My apologies
for cross-posts.

1.      The Censorship fight picks up steam

2,      ACM's Day in Court

3,      FCC - Where the Action Is

4.      The Universal Service Gam

5.      What We Can Do Now

6.      NTIA Guidelines and Deadline


As of the last issue, the ACLU had filed suit with 19 other
organizations challenging the constitutionality of the
Communications Decency Act (CDA) in Federal Court in
Philadelphia.  This suit is now officially called ACLU v. Reno.
It challenges the "indecency" and "patently offensive"
provisions of the CDA.

On February 15, U. S District Judge Ronald Buckwalter issued a
temporary restraining order against enforcement of the Act with
regard to the "indecency" provisions only.   At the time there
was no assurance that prosecutions would not be pursued once the
restraining order ended. The ACLU reports that as of Monday,
February 26, "the Court received and filed the written
stipulation from the government that they will not initiate
investigations or begin prosecutions under either the "patently
offensive" or the "indecency" provisions of the CDA".  The
written stipulation is available at

On February 25, a second coalition of 22 groups filed a second
lawsuit.  The Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition (CIEC) led
by the American Library Association filed suit in the same
Federal Court in Philadelphia..  This suit goes further than the
ACLU suit by actually attempting to redefine the law which
covers  the Internet.  The approach the CEIC has taken is to
first educate the Court on how the Internet works and to
pinpoint the differences between a broadcast medium such as TV
and the Internet. It also hopes to educate the courts and the
public on the real scope of this issue.  The outcome of this
process will determine the fundamental nature of the Internet of
the future. CEIC argues that:

        -The Internet is a unique communications medium which deserves
First Amendment protections at least as broad as those afforded
to print media.

        -Individual users and Parents, not the Federal Government
should determine for themselves and their children what material
comes into their homes based on their own tastes and values.

        -The CDA will be ineffective at protecting children form
"indecent" or patently" offensive material online.

The CEIC has extended an invitation to join them  - write to
•••@••.•••.  The invitation is good until March 15.  Both
individual and organizations are welcome to join.

On February 27 the two cases were formally consolidated..

A three judge court will hold an evidentiary hearing  in
Philadelphia on March 21, 22 and April 1, 11, and 12 are
reserved if needed.  The judges include Judge Dolores Sloviter
(Chief Judge, 4th Circuit Court of  Appeals), Judge Stewart
Dalzell (Federal District Court, Eastern District of PA), and
Judge Ronald Buckwalter (Federal District  Court, Eastern
District of PA)

More information can be found at


The Alliance for Community Media (ACM) had an apparently
successful hearing with the Supreme Court on February 21.  The
ACM was challenging a section of the 1992 Cable Act which
allowed parent cable companies the right to censor "indecent"
material on their community access and leased access channels.
The ACM and the Denver Area Educational Telecommunications
Consortium argued that technological tools are available for
program blocking by parents and that better represents the
"least restrictive means" required by the First Amendment to
protect a "compelling government interest" (protecting minors).
The outcome of this case will likely influence that of the ACLU
and CIEC cases regarding the Internet.


Though the Telecom Act of 1996 spelled out the changes that are
to take place, the FCC must fine tune these guidelines by
developing "rules".  While the momentum is clearly in the
direction of eliminating regulations wherever they exist, this
next year is going to be crazed for the FCC as it finalizes the
procedures put in place by the legislation.   It is operating in
a very unfriendly environment with a Congress ready to close it
down the  minute it cleans up its telecommunication tasks.  It
has been ordered to move to a new building this year and is
operating with a reduced budget.  In this state,  the FCC is
committed to over 80 rulemakings in the next year --  an
extraordinarily ambitious schedule.

In real terms this means the FCC will be trying to tick things
off its list as fast as possible and will probably be looking
for shortcuts wherever it can. Already it has adopted novel new
practices for gathering public input. The traditional route,
notices of proposed rulemakings (NPRMs), provide a period of
time for public input regarding a new "rule".  Due to the tight
schedule, these periods will last only one to two weeks.  Andy
Schwartzman of the Media Access Project alerts us that the FCC
is likely to be very receptive of any solutions involving an
agreement between the commercial and non-commercial sectors.
This is a time of opportunity if we use it right.  It is also a
time of quick and possibly sloppy decision making if we don't
pay attention.  Now is the time to speak to industry and pursue
areas of common ground.

March's schedule for rulemakings include relaxing the broadcast
ownership limits, relaxing crossownership rules, extending
broadcast license terms, Open Video System rules (OVS), cable
indecency scrambling and the elimination of the Section 214
filing requirements for telcos wishing to distribute video.


The definition of universal service is to be decided by a joint
federal-state board made up of 3 FCC commissioners, 4 state
regulatory commission members and one state utility consumer
advocate.  This group has been selected.  It includes FCC
Chairman Reed Hundt and Commissioners Susan Ness and Andrew
Barrett. There is a November 1996 deadline for the joint board
to return its recommendations to the commission and those
recommendations must be implemented by May 8, 1997.

By August 8 the FCC must adopt interexchange and interstate
Service Rules to insure that "interexchange" customers in rural
and high cost areas are charged no more than those in urban
areas and that "interstate-interexchange" customers are not more
in one state than another.

A report from the National Information Infrastructure Advisory
Committee, "A Nation of Opportunity:  Realizing the Promise of
the Information Superhighway", calls on the government to offer
universal service subsidies if market forces don't work.  It set
a national goal of enabling every person to have access by 2005
and for all schools and libraries by 2000.  Their definition of
universal service includes interactive, multimedia
infrastructure.  The report also encourages and open and
interoperable architecture.

Clearly, there are still many decisions to make with regard to
who will get what.  Determining "universal access" will be an
ongoing process at every level.  We will have a very key role to
play in keeping this concept on track.


The Center of Media Education has published a list of areas of

>>From "Eight Policy Actions to Make Our Media System Safe for

Universal Service:

The FCC and every state public utility commission will be
revamping rules on universal service.  These proceedings are an
opportunity to expand the safety net to address the needs of
certain communities (low-income, disabled, bilingual, homeless,
public institutions, and others).  New mechanisms should
continually raise the universal service standard --now just
phone service--to adapt to future developments, eventually to
include Internet and broadband access.  ACTION:  Organize
disadvantaged constituencies to fill comments in these crucial

Community Access:

The biggest public interest victory in the Act was the
establishment of low-cost access for schools and libraries to
advanced telecommunications services.  ACTION:  File and
organize in support of theses public institutions at the FCC and
state regulatory agencies, making sure that the rates are truly
low and the connections robust.

Consumer Protection:

Federal and state regulatory agencies will set up new rules for
competition in the local (and in some cases, cable) industry.
This will have a direct result on consumers' choices and rates.
ACTION:  Join coalitions of national public interest groups and
state public advocates to file at these regulatory agencies,
giving them the political support they will need to break up the
local monopolies by denying the companies unfair advantages in
the marketplace.

Media Concentration:

A number of public interest groups, including the Consumer
Federation of America, Consumers Union, Media Access Project,
and CME have filed at the Federal Trade Commission against the
Time Warner-Turner merger (and the alliance with TCI).  ACTION:
Write your own letter, as this deal has much significant
regulatory, legal, and financial problems that the FTC may stop
or restructure it.

Broadcaster Accountability:

Relaxed ownership restrictions in the Act will bring more media
consolidation.  The major television and radio networks will
acquire additional stations throughout the country, and
community members have few legal means to stop this
concentration of media power.  ACTION: File petitions to deny
the transfer of licenses at the FCC demanding that broadcasters
live up to their public interest obligations, from minority
hiring to children's educational programming.

Children's Television:

A five-year battle at the FCC (coordinated by the CME) to
properly implement the 1990 Children's Television Act will be
decided in the next few months.  ACTION:  Write (docket MM
93-48) in support of requiring broadcasters to air a minimum
amount of educational programming for children as part of their
public service obligations.

Spectrum Auctions:

Congress may grant broadcasters additional free public airwaves
worth billions of dollars.  Media Access Project and other
education, civic, and public interest groups want to stop this
corporate welfare.  ACTION:  Tell your representatives and the
FCC that the spectrum should be auctioned instead, and that the
proceeds should be reinvested for public use --to wire schools
and libraries and fund noncommercial educational services.

Intellectual Property:

Congress is currently holding hearings on an
Administration-backed bill on intellectual property.  At stake
is whether the principles of fair use and public domain will be
extended into digital communications of the next century.
ACTION:  Join and fight with the Digital  Future Coalition,
comprised of public interest, library, and trade groups, for
policies that ensure accessible, affordable, and noncommercial
information for the public.

More information can be had from Anthony Wright, Coordinator,
Future of Media Project.  202-628-2620, •••@••.•••,

Personal note: Over a year ago several of us in Boston started the
Telecommunications Policy Roundtable - Northeast.  This group is beginning
to organize as a coalition of public advocates around serious citizen
action at the state and local level. (Boston makes it easy with the State
House and City Hall a few blocks from each other).  I'd like to use the
Telecom Post to track our progress in educating our policymakers and
steering this thing in the direction of the public interest.


As you'll recall, 6 MHz of broadcast spectrum was allocated to
the broadcast industry to help the transition to HDTV.  HDTV is
a non-starter at the moment and the broadcast industry wants to
keep the spectrum and use it for other wireless commercial
products.  The Telecomm. Act of 1996 allowed this to happen,
calling it "spectrum flexibility".  It became a sticking point
with Dole at the 11th hour as he agreed with the public interest
community that this constituted a billion dollar giveaway.  When
he agreed that the issue could be set aside until later, the
bill passed.  "Later" has arrived.  Since it is generally agreed
that this spectrum will be auctioned, the proceeds from that
auction are now under attack from all sides.  Those who would
balance the budget by 2002 want to see proceeds go there.
Public Broadcasting Stations would like it to go into a "trust
fund" to help achieve self-sufficiency and in order to wean
itself from the federal dole. Others might have it serve the
public interest by subsidzing "public lanes" in the NII.


The TIIAP 1996 grants deadline has been announced - April 6.

Though this has been a very effective program for the last two
years, this year's awards are very much in doubt.  Currently
funded under the Continuing Resolution, NTIA has no way of
knowing how much or if it will be funded for the 1996 round.
Current funding levels are $21 million. APPLICATION DEADLINE IS
APRIL 4. To get an application call 202-482-2048 or

 Posted by Andrew Oram  - •••@••.••• - Moderator: CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)
   CyberJournal:  (WWW or FTP) -->
 Materials may be reposted in their _entirety_ for non-commercial use.