Mignon Clyburn Will Kill Net Neutrality

Obama is about to nominate Mignon Clyburn to the FCC, and for those of you who want the internet to turn into a low-rent version of cable TV, dominated by Rupert Murdoch and a few other right-wing billionaires, this is very good news.

For the rest of us, it sucks.

Mignon Clyburn is a member of some obscure utilities boards in South Carolina... AND...Jim Clyburn's daughter, and it isn't because of those obscure utilities commissions way down in Dixie that Obama is about to put Mignon Clyburn in a position of tremendous influence over the future of the internet.

Her resume is a joke.

And yes indeed, I know she was publisher of the Coastal Times, an impressive title which is always featured prominently in her bio, but I also know that the Coastal Times was nothing but a rag that was distributed free to area churches. It only existed to give Clyburn's otherwise unemployable daughter the shadow of an occupation, and as soon as Big Jim Clyburn hooked her up with her first commission, the Coastal Times disappeared without a trace.

About Jim Clyburn...

In 2006, Representative Clyburn voted against H. Amdt. 987 to ensure that network neutrality clauses be added to the Title VII of the Communication Act of 1934. The amendment required all broadband service provides to "operate its broadband network in a nondiscriminatory manner so that any person can offer or provide content, applications, and services through, or over, such broadband network with equivalent or better capability than the provider extends to itself or affiliated parties, and without the imposition of a charge for such nondiscriminatory network operation."

This was a very big deal, in case you don't remember.

Chris Bowers is ringing alarms at Open Left...

There is a disturbing possibility that President Obama has put his excellent open media and network neutrality platform at risk with his latest--and last--Democratic FCC appointment, Mignon Clyburn.
There are five seats in the FCC, and "only three commissioners may be members of the same political party." For the next five years, the FCC will have a 3-2 Democratic majority, once the remaining Republican open seat has been filled. That makes this appointment by President Obama the key swing vote that will largely determine FCC policy and regulation over the next five years.

The reason Mignon Clyburn is such a worrying pick is that she is the daughter of South Carolina Representative James Clyburn, who has an anti-Net Neutrality record.

Sascha Meinrath sat on Obama's Technology, Media, & Telecom advisory committee during the campaign, and her post is carefully apprehensive... "A disaster for the public interest?"


"Behind closed doors, just about everyone I've talked with--right across the board--has been deeply concerned that Ms. Clyburn will be a disaster for the public interest," he wrote. "The dominant feeling is that she is extremely tight with the telecom incumbents and that having her on the FCC will all but ensure a stalemate that will prevent any meaningful telecom reforms from being passed."

"This looks like a traditional "inside baseball" quid-pro-quo -- appointing the daughter of a powerful congressman to score political points just doesn't look good. And there's the issue that the cable and broadcasting industry are very excited for this nominee -- so much so that it has a lot of folks worried about how independent Ms. Clyburn will be vis-a-vis these incumbents' interests."

With nothing less than the future of telecommunications riding on the choices this nominee would be making, it leaves me deeply concerned about the future of the FCC and it's efficacy in addressing a host of problems that have continued to worsen due to it's lax oversight and its abdication of responsibility to adequately regulate to maximize the public interest.

But the telecoms are already celebrating...

"Mignon Clyburn would bring experience, deep policy understanding and the perspective of a state utility commissioner to the FCC," a Sprint spokesman said in an e-mail. "Sprint Nextel has worked with her in South Carolina, where she has served on that state's Public Service Commission, and we look forward to working with her again on any number of issues including restoring competition to the failed special access markets that are stifling broadband deployment in our country."

"Mignon Clyburn brings an insightful and pragmatic perspective to the complex policy issues that the FCC is tackling in today's dynamic telecommunications environment," said Kyle McSlarrow, president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA). "Ms. Clyburn's extensive experience with intergovernmental groups such as NARUC will make her an invaluable asset to the Commission."

"In Mignon Clyburn's home state of South Carolina, independent cable operators have been the leaders in delivering voice, video and broadband services to rural communities," Matthew M. Polka, president and chief executive of the American Cable Association (ACA), which represents small cable operators, said in a statement.

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