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First POST: Triple Play Special

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, February 14 2014

Triple Play Special

  • Apropos of the Comcast-Time Warner merger news, former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps pens an open letter to journalists in the Columbia Journalism Review, attempting to connect the interests of working reporters (a shrinking population) with his fight against media concentration and for a much more robust open internet.

  • Tony Romm and Anna Palmer lay out the details in Politico of Comcast's big lobbying push for the Time Warner deal.

  • Memory lane: In 2011, another former FCC Commissioner, Meredith Atwell Baker, went to work as a top lobbyist for Comcast after voting for its purchase of NBC, leaving the agency before her term expired. After an employee of a Seattle nonprofit wrote a tweet critical of that move, Comcast cut off its funding for the agency's summer camp.

  • Susan Crawford explains the Comcast-Time Warner merger this way: "We're all the people of Fort Lee, New Jersey, trying to get on the George Washington Bridge. There's a bully narrowing our access to the world whose interests aren't aligned with ours. What we need is for that bridge to be maintained, for traffic to flow and for the bully to get punched in the nose, collectively, by the entire country. Let's be clear: This is old-school monopolistic behavior."

  • Slate's Jason Gilbert says he has the "exclusive" transcript of the calls between Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and Time Warner Cable CEO Robert Marcus leading up to the deal. The Valentine's Day Triple Play Special never sounded so good.

In other news around the web

  • The Nation's Jessica Valenti was curious why TED and TEDWomen, its gender-specific spinoff conference, have never featured a talk mentioning abortion. The reason, TED content director and TEDWomen co-host Kelly Stoetzel told her: "Abortion did not fit into their focus on 'wider issues of justice, inequality and human rights,” Valenti reported. “'Abortion is more of a topical issue we wouldn’t take a position on, any more than we’d take a position on a state tax bill,” Stoetzel told her.

  • In response, Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, wrote an open letter to TED curator Chris Anderson protesting the policy.

  • Demand Progress offers its tally of The Day We Fight Back, citing 555,000 emails sent to Members of Congress; 89,000 phone calls; and more than a million visits to the campaign's home page.

  • Upworthy's Daniel Mintz shares more details of what the social sharing site is learning about "attention minutes." For example, there's "no correlation at all between post length and the total amount of attention paid."

  • The explosion of social media usage may be making it harder for NGOs to get attention for their causes, not easier, argue academics Trevor Thrall, Dominik Stecula, and Diana Sweet.

  • Union Square Ventures' Nick Grossman uses the pending vote by the taxi committee of the Seattle City Council on new ridesharing regulations to ask, "Should we regulate the Internet like the real world or the real world like the Internet?" His proposed "2.0 regulation" for the city to consider reads as follows:

    WHEREAS: Transportation Network Companies have demonstrated new, more efficient and effective, ways of regulating for-hire transportation through the application of technology and data;
    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY OF SEATTLE AS FOLLOWS: Anyone offering for-hire vehicle services may opt-out of existing regulations as long as they implement mobile dispatch, e-hailing and e-payments, 360-degree peer-review of drivers and passengers, and provide an API for public auditing of system performance with regards to equity, access, performance, and safety.

  • Pandora is launching a new service for political advertisers who want to target listeners based on the company's estimation of their political leanings, the Wall Street Journal's Elizabeth Dwoskin reports.

  • A Pew Global survey of people in 24 developing countries finds that while most people are still offline, cell phone use is almost "omnipresent" and the Internet "has also made tremendous inroads." In some countries large percentages of cell phone owners regularly use them to get political news, particularly Venezuela (39%), China (31%), Nigeria (29%) and Kenya (27%). Similarly, internet users who use social network sites often use them to share views about politics, with Lebanon (72%), Kenya (68%), Egypt (64%), Jordan (63%), Nigeria (62%) and Tunisia (60%) topping the list.

  • The Chronicle of Higher Education's Steve Kolowich reports that MIT still hasn't resolved how it's going to respond to criticism of its handling of the Aaron Swartz case.

  • Facebook is now allowing its users to pick a custom gender, with up to ten choices like "cisgender" and "intersex," the ability to control who sees what; and custom pronoun choices.

  • For the couch potatoes among us: Heat-maps made from public Runkeeper data show where people run in major cities.

  • Happy Valentine's Day! And Happy Presidents' Day! (We'll see you Tuesday).