The Telecom Reform Act: Rhetoric vs. Reality

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More than a year has gone by since President Clinton signed 1996’s Telecommunications Reform Act, which he claimed would “ bring the future to our doorstep.” The lower prices and more widespread access to telecom services promised by the act still haven’t materialized, but threats of Internet and television censorship continue to loom in our future.

The Telecom Act calls for governmental deregulation of the telecommunications industry, in the hopes that competition between companies will lower prices and improve the quality of service. But so far it seems only to have led to the concentration of media ownership through a series of mega-mergers.

The act also contains a universal service provision which insures high-grade, affordable service for low-income households, consumers in rural and other expensive areas, and public organizations (schools, libraries and health care providers). Unfortunately, there has yet to be a change in the universal service offered by companies; they currently only discount voice-quality telephone lines, not Internet access or higher bandwidth lines.

Finally, many still fear that the Telecom Act will lead to widespread media censorship with its regulation of the Internet’s content (a la the Communications Decency Act) and implementation of the V-Chip rating system on all new televisions.

To find out more about what the Telecom Reform Act promised, and what it has — and hasn’t — done so far, join NetAction and the Center for Educational Priorities in a month-long protest, as they demand that the Telecom Act is implemented for the true benefit of the public. You can also e-mail the FCC at vchip@fcc.gov with your views about the V-Chip.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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