New Internet regulations released Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission include 46 references to the Free Press, a group funded by liberal billionaire George Soros, the Daily Caller reported.
The FCC release of the regulations,
more than 300 pages in length, came two weeks after the commission approved them on a party-line 3-2 vote with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans in opposition.
Supporters said they were necessary in order to "level the playing field" —
protecting small businesses and middle-income households against invidious discrimination from Internet service providers.
Critics countered that regulations —
enacted after an intense lobbying campaign by the Obama administration directed at FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler —
will effectively turn the Internet into a public utility and that intrusive government control will stifle innovation.
One group that has long advocated "leveling the playing field" when it comes to the Internet is Free Press,
a group founded in 2003.
In total, the FCC cited pro-net neutrality arguments by Free Press 46 times in its decision. The group received $2.2 million in donations from Soros' Open Society Foundations and $3.9 million from the Ford Foundation, according to the Daily Caller.
A co-founder of Free Press —
and currently on its board of directors —
is Robert McChesney, a professor of communications at the University of Illinois. McChesney, according to the Daily Caller, supports a "radical" agenda aimed at completely changing the way the media operate in the United States.
"In the end, there is no real answer but to remove brick by brick the capitalist system itself, rebuilding the entire society on socialist principles," McChesney wrote in a 2009 essay.
"Only government can implement policies and subsidies to provide an institutional framework for quality journalism," he said.
McChesney has declared that the news "is not a commercial product. It is a public good, necessary for a self-governing society."
Once people accept this premise, "we can talk about the kind of media policies and subsidies we want," he reportedly said.
In his 2010 book, "The Life and death of American Journalism," McChesney suggested enacting a $35 billion plan for federal subsidies for public media outlets. He also proposed creating a journalism branch of the federal AmeriCorps program and suggested giving every American a $200 news voucher which could only be used at public media outlets, the Daily Caller said.
"Advertising is the voice of capital," he said in a 2009 interview with the Socialist Project.
"We need to do whatever we can to limit capitalist propaganda, regulate it, minimize it, and perhaps even eliminate it."
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai —
who blew the whistle on the efforts of the Obama administration and FCC Chairman Wheeler to ram through the regulations without giving the public a chance to see them —
noted the role played by progressive lobbying groups in mobilizing support for heavier Internet regulation.
"What the press has called the 'parallel FCC' at the White House opened its doors to a plethora of special-interest activists: Daily Kos, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press, and Public Knowledge, just to name a few," he wrote in his dissent against the new rules.
Pai noted that some pro-net neutrality activists had blocked Wheeler's driveway and met with Obama White House officials to press their case.
"But what about the rest of the American people? They certainly couldn’t get White House meetings," Pai said. "They were shut out of the process. They were being played for fools."
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