January 29th, 2009

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Turns Out Americans Like News After All . . .

Ratings are up for hard news shows, such as The News Hour and 60 Minutes.

Ya know, it's a funny thing. For years, the networks thought that people didn't like hard news, so they made their news shows lighter and fluffier and cut news resources. And ratings got worse, so they made the news even lighter and fluffier and less substantive. And the ratings got even more dreadful. So they kept cutting news and cutting news. But no matter how much they cut, the audience kept leaving. Indeed, the more they cut, the more the audience left. Which obviously proved that no one in America wanted to watch even the little bit of fluffy, happy, patriotic celebrity-oriented news still left in broadcast or in the newspaper. And it was all because of that damned internet. Which people went to for news -- particularly foreign news coverage which actually had some substance.

And then, when Americans were offered serious news, they flocked back in droves.

As is so often the case, Americans often turn out to be much smarter and better people than we give ourselves credit for -- despite our all to human flaws.
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Linkharvest: Senate Stimulus Bill Text

http://appropriations.senate.gov/News/2009_01_28_Text_of_S336,_the_American_Recovery_and_Reinvestment_Plan.pdf?CFID=4206386&CFTOKEN=70751978

For some reason, it is being reported that the NN language did not make the Senate version of broadband stimulus. In fact, it did. Section 201(8) of the relevant Title says:
(8) Concurrent with the issuance of the Request for Proposal for grant applications pursuant to this section, the Assistant Secretary shall, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, publish the non-discrimination and network interconnection obligations that shall be contractual conditions of grants awarded under this section.

That's different from the House language, in that it leaves formulation of the exact provisions of the conditions to the NTIA Administrator. In this political climate, that could end up being stronger or weaker than the House language, which spells out explicit conditions for net neutrality and leaves it to the FCC to define "open access."

In any event, if the provision survives Committee vote (which I expect), it is unlikely to get pulled on the floor. The Stimulus bill may not get past cloture, of course, and the House and Senate versions will need reconciliation. But with NN language in both the House and Senate bills, and Rs playing "sulk in the corner" games, I don't see NN being pulled.