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Gore Commission wants to regulate the Net like broadcast

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 1998 13:28:24 -0800 (PST)
From: Declan McCullagh <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Subject: FC: Gore Commission wants to regulate the Net like broadcast


Date: Tue, 20 Jan 1998 16:20:23 -0500
From: Alan Moseley <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Subject: the Gore Commission and digital media

The Gore Commission -- the group created by Clinton to determine the 
future public interest obligations of digital TV broadcasters -- showed 
signs last week of broadening its reach to include other digital media 
that can deliver broadcast-like audio and video.

Significantly, the group discussed the possibility of including other 
digital media in their recommendations after viewing a demonstration of 
the Internet's potential to provide audio and video.

If digital TV broadcasters can be made to serve some notion of the "public 
interest" through government-mandated programming and restrictions on 
programming, is it not a short step for the government to regulate other 
digital content-providers?

This group should be watched carefully as they discuss future regulations 
on digital speech.

The Media Institute (http://www.mediainst.org), a First Amendment advocacy 
group based in Washington, has issued the following press release on this 


Media Institute's Public Interest Council Sees Danger
in Gore Commission Suggestion

	Washington, Jan. 20 -- The prospect of extending 
government-mandated public interest obligations beyond the broadcasting 
industry, raised in comments by the co-chairman of the Gore Commission, 
illustrates both the lack of justification for and danger in these 
proceedings, The Media Institute's Public Interest Council said today.
	The Council was reacting to comments last Friday by Norman 
Ornstein, co-chairman of the Advisory Committee on Public Interest 
Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters, at an open meeting of the 
group in Washington.
	Following a demonstration of "video streaming" Internet technology 
and a discussion of digital convergence, Ornstein noted that mandatory 
public interest obligations on broadcasters may not be sufficient. He 
suggested that the Advisory Committee (popularly known as the Gore 
Commission) might want to examine the public interest role of other 
digital media as well.
	Ornstein questioned "whether we should be making this really firm 
distinction, saddling broadcasters...with heavy public interest 
obligations, and letting others get off scot-free."
	Media Institute President Patrick D. Maines, speaking for the 
Institute's Public Interest Council, challenged that idea: "The mere 
mention of that possibility -- extending the 'public interest' rationale 
to other media -- should raise alarms for anyone who values our country's 
constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press.
	"We already have a presidential commission considering whether to 
recommend additional public interest obligations for broadcasters solely 
because they will be converting to digital technology.  Mr. Ornstein's 
comments illustrate the ominous ease with which government might attempt 
to impose so-called public interest obligations on other types of digital 
media, such as on-line information services, DBS, cable, and perhaps even 
newspapers that are digitally transmitted to printing plants," Maines said.
	"The Gore Commission is correct to note that over-the-air 
television is far from the only medium serving today's consumer.  That 
felicitous fact, however, ought to lead the Commission to recommend a 
lessening of the obligations on broadcasters, not an increase on 
broadcasters and everyone else."
	The recent experience of the Communications Decency Act 
demonstrates the government's willingness to control digital speech.  The 
digital convergence argument could be a  new rationale for further such 
interventions, Maines warned.
	Maines spoke on behalf of The Media Institute's Public Interest 
Council, a four-member group created recently to study the public interest 
question and to follow the work of the Gore Commission.  Members include 
communications attorneys Robert Corn-Revere and J. Laurent Scharff, and 
constitutional scholars Robert M. O'Neil and Laurence H. Winer.  
	Information about The Media Institute, its Public Interest 
Council, and the Gore Commission is available on-line at 

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