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GAO Report Slams FCC

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the gold-makes-the-rules dept.

Communications 117

eldavojohn writes "The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has made a report available today that was requested a year ago by a Democratic senator that finds the Federal Communications Commissions has been favoring lobbyists a little too much. 'The report says that some people at the commission warn lobbyists when a particular issue is about to come up for a vote. Typically, the commission chairman circulates an item for vote three weeks before a meeting. Under the rules of the FCC, meeting agendas are published one week before a vote is scheduled. Once the agenda is published lobbying is banned. The report says that the two-week window allows lobbyist plenty of time to "maximize their impact."'"

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Government & Business (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20843129)

Working hand in hand to screw the citizenry over.

Re:Government & Business (5, Insightful)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843271)

A perfect example, the merger between XM and Sirius. The NAB (National Association of Broadcasting) is heavily lobbying against this merger, because that would mean a stronger competitor. And the result? The merger has been debated for months, and it's still going on. In the meantime, other huge mergers have been approved within a week.

Re:Government & Business (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844001)

Personally I hope the merger goes through the NAB has been allowing the airwaves to be filled with festering monkey feces and it's convincing people that $12.00 a month is worth it in droves. Sirius and XM are seeing way more people getting not only a subscription but multiples faster than ever The hip new thing in high-schools is not a new video ipod it's a Sirius or XM portable.

Even the teenagers are sick of the clearchannel 1 song between 15 minute commercials power blocks. also several of the FM stations locally that clearchannel turned into robo radio stations have such low bandwidth mp3's in their playback pool that the stations sound WORSE than the weather channels on XM and sirius.

NAB needs to be disbanded, Clearchannel needs to reap what they sow by being decimated by the satellite offerings. You know that free radio has problems when you can drive people quickly to the pay channels.

Re:Government & Business (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844719)

I'd go one step further and say that you know free radio has problems when you not only drive people to pay radio, but you drive the rest to "no radio".

Re:Government & Business (1)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 6 years ago | (#20846635)

I'm with you there. I often find that if my CDs, tapes, or MP3 player isn't in my car I am sitting in silence. Between the annoying DJs, incessant commercials, and crapola the payola buys I'd rather stare at traffic in silence.

FCC and NAB (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20846231)

NAB needs to be disbanded, Clearchannel needs to reap what they sow by being decimated by the satellite offerings. You know that free radio has problems when you can drive people quickly to the pay channels.

Not just the NAB, but the FCC also needs to be banned. The FCC and it's predecessors were created in an era of airwave scarcity. Now however there isn't the scarcity there once was.

Falcon

Re:Government & Business (1)

Leebert (1694) | more than 6 years ago | (#20846993)

Clearchannel needs to reap what they sow by being decimated by the satellite offerings.


Clear Channel owns a stake in XM. About 3% of shares from what I understand.

Re:Government & Business (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20844181)

GAO Reports are available on-line at gao.gov I am guessing the report under consideration is this one

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d071046.pdf [gao.gov]

but neither the slashdot notice or the article it references gives the report number.

Re:Government & Business (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844331)

And let's not forget that an XM-Sirius merger would reduce the number of satelite radio providers in the US from 2 to 1.

W00t! Monopolies offer choice!

Re:Government & Business (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844503)

Lets suppose that they do merge, and they obtain this so-called monopoly you claim. Sirus/XM raises their prices to $50/mo and reduces programming by 50%. What will happen? Their 12 million listeners will dwindle down to less than a million, and people would go back to listening to terrestrial radio and iPods. You fail to realize that satellite radio competes with terrestrial radio, Internet radio, portable music players (like the iPod). Sirius/XM will still have to keep their prices low and maintain good programming to keep their listeners. What's even better is that there will be one service where you can get all the sports channels (NFL, NBA, MLB, Nascar, etc).

Now lets suppose that they aren't allowed to merge, and both companies fail (This is a very likely scenario). Now the consumer has less choice because satellite radio is no longer available to anyone.

Re:Government & Business (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844995)

You fail to realize that satellite radio competes with terrestrial radio, Internet radio, portable music players (like the iPod).

I've routinely failed to be convinced by this argument. Basic/Standard cable may compete for viewers with broadcast TV, but it doesn't *really* compete with Video iPods, for example, because the viewership stats are so very different in number. Satellite radio really only competes with terrestrial radio, since it's the only one that has portable, streaming audio. When WiMax, et al. get popular, then perhaps you'll have a point, but until then, it's really just XM vs Sirius vs Clear Channel.

Re:Government & Business (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20848725)

1. It wouldn't be a "so called monopoly" it would be a monopoly. There would be only one company in the satelite radio sector. That is the very definition of a monopoly.

1a. Yes, satelite radio competes with other free services. They fact that they are having problems charging for what others are giving away for free, is shocking. They can't compete because they can't convince people to pay for something they're getting for free. It's a structural problem with their buisness model, and they deserve to go out of buisness. This "loss" of choice is specious, because it's an option that demonstorably no one is taking. It's like arguing that removing rusty nails and broken glass burritos from a menu is a loss of choice. Technically that's true, but not all choices are equal.

2. Your hypothetical prices are absurd. XM is $10/mo [xmradio.com] . A 500% increase is beyond absurd, and it doesn't dignify a response.

3. If they don't merge, and they both fail, it's because the market spoke and they provided a service no one wanted. It happens all the time. That's the invisible hand. Who cares? But they won't fail simultaneously. Companies never do. Sirius will fail first, and if their customers really want satelite radio, they'll migrate to XM, and if the sector is viable, then XM will survive. That's the invisible hand.

The FCC and FTC has no buisness in helping prop up any failing sector. Their only purpose is to maintain competition in the sector.

4. The fact that the sports channels are split evenly between the services is a sign of good competition in the sector. Neither dominates enough to sweep the other up. This is a Good Thing(tm) for the market. It's a sign of equilibrium. This holds prices down.

Re:Government & Business (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 6 years ago | (#20849935)

1. It wouldn't be a "so called monopoly" it would be a monopoly. There would be only one company in the satelite radio sector. That is the very definition of a monopoly.

This is like saying that your local cable company has a monopoly on delivering TV channels over cable. Sure, you're technically correct, but that fact is completely irrelevant. Consumers still have a choice. They can choose to get satellite TV, or just settle with UHF/VHF.

1a. Yes, satelite radio competes with other free services. They fact that they are having problems charging for what others are giving away for free, is shocking. They can't compete because they can't convince people to pay for something they're getting for free. It's a structural problem with their buisness model, and they deserve to go out of buisness. This "loss" of choice is specious, because it's an option that demonstorably no one is taking. It's like arguing that removing rusty nails and broken glass burritos from a menu is a loss of choice. Technically that's true, but not all choices are equal.

Don't you think it's in the best interest of the consumer to help keep satellite radio alive? Or are you satisfied with the shit on regular shitty radio? I'm only for the merger because it will eventually force terrestrial radio to be less shitty.

2. Your hypothetical prices are absurd. XM is $10/mo. A 500% increase is beyond absurd, and it doesn't dignify a response.

The example is absurd, but it demonstrates that a XM/Sirius merger wouldn't be a monopoly, because consumers still have a choice: terrestrial radio.

3. If they don't merge, and they both fail, it's because the market spoke and they provided a service no one wanted. It happens all the time. That's the invisible hand. Who cares? But they won't fail simultaneously. Companies never do. Sirius will fail first, and if their customers really want satelite radio, they'll migrate to XM, and if the sector is viable, then XM will survive. That's the invisible hand.

Agreed.

The FCC and FTC has no buisness in helping prop up any failing sector. Their only purpose is to maintain competition in the sector.

By rejecting the merger, the FCC will inevitably be propping up terrestrial radio, by keeping their competition weak.

4. The fact that the sports channels are split evenly between the services is a sign of good competition in the sector. Neither dominates enough to sweep the other up. This is a Good Thing(tm) for the market. It's a sign of equilibrium. This holds prices down.

What's holding prices down is their competition: terrestrial radio.

business and government are run by aliens? (4, Insightful)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843853)

Who do you suppose "lobbyists" represent? Aliens from Mars?

"Lobbyist" is just a short way to say "a representative of a group of citizens who all have some common interest and pool their money to hire someone to let elected officials know how they feel (and will vote)." Business groups (like oil companies) have lobbyists, and so do unions (like the UAW, CWA, or AFL-CIO), and so do consumer groups, environmental groups, senior citizens' groups, animal breeder groups, Jewish groups, Muslim and evangelist groups, pro- and anti-immigration groups, pro- and anti-gun control groups, PETA and cattle ranchers, et cetera and so forth.

Or are you thinking "citizens" means only those folks who have no "business" interests at all? Folks without a job, who own nothing? Teenagers living in mom's basement?

In the real adult world, we all have economic interests. If we're employed in the radio industry -- making radios, selling radios, selling products on radio shows, hosting radio shows, reporting on the news, et cetera and so forth -- or if we make use of the radio industry -- we listen to radio shows and watch TV, or we use cell phones -- then we have opinions about how the FCC should regulate use of the airwaves. Almost certainly conflicting opinions.

Do you feel those opinions should not be presented forcefully to the government bureaucrats who make decisions affecting our interests? Should we just wait around, silent and respectful, while our betters on the FCC tell us what's good for us? Should every one of us who wants to be heard be forced to take time off from work to fly out to Washington to testify every time the FCC holds hearings (every four weeks, maybe)? Or does it sound kinda' reasonable and economical if a bunch of us with similar interests and opinions might hire some good talker to go to Washington and make our case for us on a regular basis? Which is what lobbying is.

Maybe what you're doing, in the hysterical spirit of the times, is confusing lobbying ("speaking up about what you want to your elected officials") with corruption (bribing elected officials). They're not the same. For one thing, the latter is a crime. For another, it's inherently anti-democratic, whereas there's very little more democratic than groups of citizens vying for influence through their freely chosen representatives (i.e. those evil lobbyists).

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844249)

I agree with what you're saying in principle, but I think the problem with the lobbies is that the most powerful lobbies, who represent a very specific group, have a very large influence on policy. It's the government's job to balance special interests with the interests which are for the good of the people.

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844585)

The most powerful lobbies are, pretty much by definition, those that represent the largest number of citizens from the broadest possible coalition of interests groups. Why do you suppose government is very solicitous of organizations like the AARP? Because they represent a very large group of people (folks over 55) who have more than the ordinary amount of money to spend, who represent lots of various political persuasions (so every politician, of any party, wants to be on their good side), and because they vote in high percentages.

Lobbies that represent a handful of wealthy individuals tend to be less influential, the ravings of assorted crypto-Marxists notwithstanding. Why would they be? How much influence can George Soros or Bill Gates really wield? They can't give more than a measly few grand to any one political candidate, and they've only got one vote each. That doesn't mean they have the same influence as Joe Sixpack. Clearly they have much more. But one millionaire has far less political influence than a million Joe Sixpacks, each with a dollar and a vote to give away to the right politician.

It's the government's job to balance special interests with the interests which are for the good of the people.

God forbid. First of all, you'd need to come up with a good operational difference between "special" interests and "the good of the people." Good luck with that. Philosophers have been working on how to measure "the good of the people" for, oh, a round four or five thousands years or so. Not much progress yet.

It's easy to know what any given person, or group of persons want. We can just ask them. Even better, in a democracy, they organize and tell us, vociferously. (That's lobbying.) But how do we interrogate The People? How do we know what is good for the people, including people who don't vote, people not yet born, and despite what actual persons think is good for them? (If a teacher asked a group of algebra students whether an algebra test tomorrow was "good for them," do you suppose the students would say 'yes'? Know any 12-year-olds who volunteer to go in for a measles booster shot? Why do people smoke when it says right on the package that it'll give them lung cancer, a frightful disease? Folks don't always know what's good for them, or act logically on the knowledge they do have.)

Secondly, you'll need to find a race of space aliens with much higher intelligence than mere humans to do the sorting you propose. Because there's just no way a handful of ordinary people are smart enough and disciplined enough to do this magnificant fine-grained sorting you want them to do, deciphering the difference between what all these random groups of shouting people say they want and what's ultimately good for all 300 million of us in the long run. Ordinary real men and women are only middling successful in deciding what's best for themselves and their immediate family over the long run. Asking a few men and women to decide delicate matters for 300 million souls is an exercise in incredibly wishful thinking.

So I have a better idea. Why not just let those groups of people yell out what they all want, and the commissioners make decisions according to (in order)...

(1) What the law says they have to do,

(2) What the loudest and most persistent voices representing the largest and most diverse groups of citizens are shouting,

(3) A determination to be cautious, and not undertake wild experimental deviations from past policy without good reason, and

(4) Common sense.

That sounds wiser. Not perfect, but maybe as good a machine as we can build out of imperfect building blocks (humans). Of course, that's what we have now. And those evil lobbyists are an essential part of the machine.

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (2, Insightful)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844647)

unfortunately.. I believe your confusing the way lobbying SHOULD work, with the way it works in practice.

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (4, Insightful)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845027)

unfortunately.. I believe your confusing the way lobbying SHOULD work, with the way it works in practice.

Correct. While the poster presents an excellent view of how lobbying would work in a perfect world, in reality lobbyists are quite often highly paid contractors that express the desires of a relatively small number of people who have large amount of resources directed towards legislative action that directly benefits themselves, not the population as a whole.

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845345)

And even more often, people express their opinions of how they believe reality to be, with nothing more than cynicism and "common sense" backing them up.

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (1)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20849477)

Right, but let's not forget that these are also the people most heavily affected by the proposed legislation. It might benefit the public as a whole for $1 billion to be taken from every person with a net worth of over $3 billion and divided equally among the American people, but surely the billionaires have a right to have their objections heard. That .01% of the population deserves half the government ears on a proposal like this because they're the victims.

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (1)

I_Voter (987579) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845399)

Quadraginta wrote:

The most powerful lobbies are, pretty much by definition, those that represent the largest number of citizens from the broadest possible coalition of interests groups. ..(snip).. They can't give more than a measly few grand to any one political candidate, and they've only got one vote each.

--------

IMO: There are two ways that the CEO's, their BOD's, and maybe major stockholders can use economic power to influence U.S. politics - beyond what you indicated.

!. Control of advertising revenue. The media's first loyalty is to their paying customers not their audience. It's a market, and the media is for sale.

2. Those citizens who contribute larger sums such as $500 or $5,000 dollars have a more limited political influence than such sums might indicate. My understanding is that many such people work in corporate management and contribute both cash and time because it is an activity that leads to promotion. Basically they work for the interests of the corporate stockholders as defined by upper level management. They could have less personal political power than an average voter in the EU. They CERTAINLY have less personal political power than a dues paying member of an EU political party!

Note: I am aware that other groups such as Labor Unions, and professionals such as Doctors ans Lawyers also contribute significant amounts of time and money, however I suspect that corporations have the greatest economic impact.

lobbyists (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20846613)

The most powerful lobbies are, pretty much by definition, those that represent the largest number of citizens from the broadest possible coalition of interests groups. Why do you suppose government is very solicitous of organizations like the AARP?

HAH! so Dick Cheney's Enrgy Taskforce listened to consumer, environmental, and science groups but not the petroleum industry? WRONG! About all they listened to was the petroleum, natural gas, and nuclear industries.

Falcon

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (2, Insightful)

cyber-dragon.net (899244) | more than 6 years ago | (#20846883)

Your argument, as many have pointed out... is based in an ideal fantasy of what our Government should be. Bill Gates may only be allowed to donate a couple grand PERSONALLY, but every non-profit, company etc he exerts enough influence over to dictate policy (i.e. a few hundred more than likely) can EACH give a politician a couple grand. Adds up fast, and making one man happy for that much money is a hell of a lot easier than make lots of people happy for a $10 each (the most a politician can realistically hope to get from any given person). Oh and while your campaign might only get a couple grand... your "Friends of" organization gets a large check as well, several schools in your district all of a sudden get software and/or hardware donations with your name on them etc etc. All perfectly legal.

The second difference is he can do it over and over again whereas the common man is lucky to be capable of donating at that level once. This means while you may get a smile for your $10, Gates can (and will) buy every politician he can based on them voting his way.

Here is where the career politician becomes a VERY bad idea. If you are a politician and will only serve one term... you can take anyone's money who will give it to you, then vote however you like as it won't matter once you are done. You accept money from someone like Gates and he holds it over you all through your term with the threat of no more money next time you run.

I know this for a fact as I worked on a political campaign for a California Senator in college when Microsoft was trying to buy themselves out of antitrust trouble and sat in on the meeting where MS reps offered him a rather substantial bribe if he would help make it go away. They covered it in diplomatic double talk of course but the gist was he agreed to help save their ass they would cover a large portion of his campaign. Something to the tune of 1/6 the money he needed to finish the race, and we were half way. To his credit he told them to shove off, but I doubt very many would.

More recently they tried to buy themselves a standard via politicians. Show me a single person who can create that much influence over the policy of that many countries and I will buy your version.

well, in this case... (2, Informative)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844359)

I also agree with you in theory. The special caveat in this instance is that while complaints to the FCC are rising on the order of 100-fold, over 99% of them come from one ultra-conservative lobbying group [slashdot.org]

Lobbyist groups aren't a de facto evil. Just usually. And specifically in this case.

Re:well, in this case... (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 6 years ago | (#20846571)

What the FCC really needs is a moderating mechanisms where the 90% of the American people that wouldn't get caught dead being associated with said ultra-conservative lobbying group can vote on those complaints as being specious and trollish.

If 20 or 100 times as many people would find ridiculous a complaint about a particular show, as compared to the number of people who actually complained about that show, then those complaints should be summarily dismissed.

The problem is that most people right now have no way of knowing what those complaints are and saying "Heck, I watched that show. It was fine and those idiots don't know what they're talking about. They probably never even watched the show and only wrote in because their fundamentalist preacher told them to during his Sunday sermon."

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844433)

"Lobbyist" is just a short way to say "a representative of a group of citizens who all have some common interest and pool their money to hire someone to let elected officials know how they feel (and will vote)."


In the real world, when in context of this thread, you have to replace "citizens" with "corporations". See, the problem is that this ISN'T about individuals forming groups which then lobby the government. It is about corporations -- which are answerable to a faceless group of shareholders (who have no responsibility for the actions of the company) to increase their margins -- forming groups which then hire professional lobbying firms to get their business model protected by the government.

Sure, some of the high-paid individuals and top investors for the companies involved might share the same common interest; it's not them joining the groups and doing the lobbying however. It is the unaccountable companies they work for. Because of the situation where non-living but legally protected entities can band together to lobby, there are certain oversight requirements built in to the system to allow those CITIZENS with less lobbying power the same chance at the information as the multibillion-dollar corporations, thus levelling the playing field. What has happened in this case is that a government body has flouted the oversight rules and given the advantage to the corporations.

When people complain about lobbyists, they're generally complaining about corporate lobbyists (unless, of course, they're profiting from corporate lobbying, in which case they complain about citizen lobby groups like the ACLU and PETA). Remember: context is (almost) everything.

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (2, Interesting)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844761)

I'm sorry, this is just silly. A "corporation" is not a space alien from Mars, either.

I mean, are you self-employed, unemployed, or what? Don't you work for a "corporation"? If so, then like me, you know that a "corporation" is a collection of workers and managers plus a base of satisfied investors and customers. (Please note you can't be a successful corporation without the latter.)

In other words, a corporation represents quite a large group of citizens, and they're all tied together by some significant common interest that has them exchanging money with each other all the time. If I work for LEGO, then I have skills that LEGO needs (designing toys). I have common interests with my managers (like them, I want the world to buy more LEGOs at higher prices, so my salary goes up). I have common interests also with my customers (like them, I want the component of the cost of LEGOs other than my salary to be as low as possible, so the price of LEGOs is as little more than my salary as possible, so folks buy plenty of them). I have common interests with our shareholders, too, of course, for obvious reasons.

Of course, I also have interests that conflict with the interests of my bosses, the shareholders, and the customers. That's human nature. That's why I belong to more than one interest group. I'm a LEGO employee but also (say) a member of the LEGO workers union, and a member of the Save Our Planet From Plastic Garbage pressure group that agitates for less plastic packaging around LEGO toys, et cetera and so forth. I'm in the middle of several groups, some of which sometimes come into conflict, which presents me with painful choices sometimes. (That's life, too.)

Nevertheless, clearly one of the most important of the organizations to which I, a citizen, belong, is the corporation that employs me. So actually, of all the social organizations to which citizens belong, corporations are one of the most important, if not the most important.

Perhaps you're confused by thinking that your most important interests are as a shopper, a consumer, someone at leisure. So you focus on those organizations that are oriented around your shopping, consuming, and leisure-time activities. But that's dumb. Most of your waking life you spend working, not on vacation, being a producer, not a consumer. And most of life's nastiest surprises come as threats to your role as producer, not consumer. It's far more traumatic to lose your job, or become disabled and unable to work, than to have to pay higher prices at the gas pump or be unable to buy a non-DRM copy of Bladerunner. If you're rational, you'll pay somewhat more attention to the organizations that allow you to be a producer in the way you want, that allow you to have a satisfying, well-paying job.

Without "corporations," we're all just Neanderthals scratching in the dirt, individually. It's banding together voluntarily to tackle jobs too big for any one of us that gives us this nice modern lifestyle. Decrying the fact that when we do band together the bands have a lot of influence is sort of goofy. Like complaining that when you get rich you have to suddenly start making all these difficult decisions of where to invest your money.

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (3, Insightful)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845083)

Actually corporations are interesting legal fictions that have some limited "personhood", except without the natural lifetime restrains of a human being.

Again, you have some idealistic ideas of how this whole thing works, but in actuality those spending the most amount of money on lobbying are not concerned citizens or corporations made of politically active workers, but rather very narrowly populated corporate leadership populations making a concerted effort to encourage legislation that furthers their interest, and hopefully to the detriment of their competitors' and/or opponents interests. This is, of course, done because it furthers the shareholders' interests, but nonetheless, the rosy picture you paint of corporate social structures is... shall we say... idealistic?

We worked fine without corporations for a long time between Neanderthals (which we likely never were, btw) and the modern day. Companies served that function just fine, though corporations do provide some useful legal shielding to their constituents/leadership.

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20846057)

Who do you think shareholders are? A bunch of old white guys sitting around counting their money? A large portion of the market is held by Joe Blows investing their couple thousand here and there and through mutual funds in tax deferred or tax exempt investment plans like a 401k, 403b, IRA, Roth etc. Let's not forget that that lobbyist who's pushing something on behalf of a company or industry would probably be bringing new jobs or sustaining current jobs (being employed certainly benefits joe blow). Now who's being idealistic?

working (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20846497)

Most of your waking life you spend working, not on vacation, being a producer, not a consumer.

Unless you're a workaholic or sleepaholic you're wrong. With 168 hours in a week if you sleep 8 hours a day that leaves 112 hours. Fulltime work in the US is 40 hours. That leaves 62 hours you don't work That's enough tyme for two fulltime jobs.

It's far more traumatic to lose your job, or become disabled and unable to work

I certainly know that. More than 10 years ago I was hit in an accident that left me with a permanent disability and one of the things that has bothered me the most is not being active, including not working or taking classes.

Falcon

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20844615)

Government & Busines Working hand in hand to screw the citizenry over.
Maybe what you're doing, in the hysterical spirit of the times, is confusing lobbying ("speaking up about what you want to your elected officials") with corruption (bribing elected officials). They're not the same. For one thing, the latter is a crime. For another, it's inherently anti-democratic, whereas there's very little more democratic than groups of citizens vying for influence through their freely chosen representatives (i.e. those evil lobbyists).
The GAO was at least in part set up to find possible instances of corruption within the government. TFA doesn't say anything about elected officials of the government, instead it says the GAO has noted that appointed officials of the FCC is showing prejudice towards corporate interests over consumer and public interests in relation to notification when hearings occur and when decisions are made. In short the GAO is sounding the alarm, but it will be up to the elected officials to respond to those alarms. As far as lobbyists for the public goes, we aren't supposed to need one, that is the job of our elected representatives.

Special interest groups are often funded heavily by corporations with financial interest in the interests of the special interest groups. The very nature of some of these is highly corrupt, but going into the details on the numerous instances of this would be too much of a distraction from the main topic here. Again, it is the job of our elected officials to see through this kind of thing and resist it where appropriate and stay free of corruption. It is our job to make sure they do so or get replaced come next election, if not before.

GP made a simple and direct statement of political opinion which in recent history seems all to true to many of us. You appear to be putting words into their mouth though that they never said. Are you asking if that is what they are implying? Or are you merely lobbying for lobbying? If the latter please state whom you represent.

In response to the article though, its time for "we the people" to escalate the activity of the first box.

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (1)

dwandy (907337) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845557)

Maybe what you're doing, in the hysterical spirit of the times, is confusing lobbying ("speaking up about what you want to your elected officials") with campaign contributions.(bribing elected officials). They're not the same...

there. ...fixed it for you.

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (1)

Courageous (228506) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845635)

A company is not a citizen. And the people working for it don't behave like ordinary citizens. Generally speaking, their behavior is highly colored by the lens of fiduciary responsibility, a requirement placed on them by terms of their employment to see not to their needs or the needs of the citizens of this country, but rather for the self interests of the company in and of itself. Your twice-bolded use of the word "citizens," therefore, ought be viewed with a rather jaundiced eye.

C//

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845651)

"Lobbyist" is just a short way to say "a representative of a group of citizens who all have some common interest and pool their money to hire someone to let elected officials know how they feel (and will vote)."

While that may be the dictionary definition, the reality is nothing like this. First of all, "lobbyists" mean only those representatives with enough cash to make legislators pay attention. When that cash is called "campaign contributions", it's not corruption or bribery; it's perfectly legal. Now, do you really think the representative of that grassroots environmental lobby is going to get as much face time with their senator as the big-oil spokesperson?

Secondly, lobbies only technically represent groups of citizens. To take our favorite /. example, ask yourself what group of citizens the recording and film industry lobbies represent? Is that balanced by a lobby that represents the general public interest in the public domain and sane intellectual property law? Or is the latter a lot harder to fund? The problem is that legislators are beholden unto their campaign contributors, instead of the public interest. We don't need an end to lobbies; we do need more finance reform and elected officials who continually think and represent the public interest in their work, instead of whoever happens to donate the most money to them.

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (2, Insightful)

big_paul76 (1123489) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845861)

OK, but when most people say "lobbyists", what they're actually talking about is a system by which we have basically institutionalized corruption, in that those with more financial resources have better access to lawmakers.

Furthermore, I'd like to come down on the side rejecting categorically the notion that _everything_ is interest based.

Yes, most of us have interests, economic or otherwise. But can there be no space, in government, for someone to take the dis-interested point of view, that is, to be concerned with the common good?

Let me pose this question for you: Where does legitimacy of government come from? Does it come from groups, or from citizens? If the basis of legitimacy is through groups and group membership, that's not democracy.

Yes, it's reasonable for citizens to assemble into groups and suggest this or that policy direction to lawmakers, but let's not pretend that that's all that's going on with professional paid lobbyists. Corruption has become routine, not exceptional.

This nicely illustrates a common problem these days - that it seems to be difficult to make illegal that which is unethical.

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (1)

iamwahoo2 (594922) | more than 6 years ago | (#20847165)

Well, I have no lobbyists that represent my interests. By all means, if you are represented by lobbyists, then you should support what they do.

Re:business and government are run by aliens? (1)

torstenvl (769732) | more than 6 years ago | (#20849711)

You might feel smug about your +5 Insightful rating. You might think that it somehow validates your post, that it somehow makes you right. I know I sometimes feel that way. But here's the thing: it doesn't, and you aren't.

The logical result of your ideal is aristocracy; only the upper echelons of an industry have lobbying power. In the debate over overtime exemption, who do the lobbyists represent: Microsoft or the programmers? The programmers aren't teenagers in their mother's basement, and to contend otherwise is facetious at best.

So if you want "groups of citizens" -- whose ostensibly collective stance is determined only by the rich and powerful among them -- to control the government, rather than the constituencies of elected representatives to control it, then go ahead. But your argument that there is "little more democratic" than that is untenable.

Re:Government & Business (2, Interesting)

camperslo (704715) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844793)

Not only is the FCC failing to protect the public interest when selling out to those that profit, they've buried study results [cbsnews.com] showing some of the harm it has done.

After a pirate station was shut down by the FCC, free speech and public access to the airwaves issues were raised, along with the idea that additional lower power stations might be added without causing significant interference. But when rules were finally implemented, it was done in such a way that the vast majority of the allocations went to religious broadcasters.

For democracy to function properly, diversity in media is essential to allow adequate probing and exposure to many issues. Instead of improving the situation the FCC has made things far worse by relaxing the ownership rules.

At a time when were facing what should be a wonderful improvement in technology with the transistion from NTSC to ATSC television, we're faced with very little good programming.

Stations no longer have to commit to a self assigned limit on commercial airtime (which in the past could be exceeded just two weeks of the year, usually election and holiday advertising periods).
It was interesting to see the new season Episode of Heros on NBC being presented "with limited commercial interruption". A normal Episode runs about 43 minutes out of an hour, this one was about 52 (with a major product placement, the car gift).
If one looks back it time, the normal Episode length was close to that. For instance episodes of Lost in Space originally ran about 51 minutes. Many stations run infomercials taking up huge blocks of time for advertising, and many overlap programs with various promotional banners.
Letting marketplace "competition" work for the public good has been a dismal failure. Clear Channel and others are operating in a loot and pillage mode. The whole mindset that should be behind broadcasting has been replaced with a very unhealthy one.
So much for "trustees of the public interest".

Most of the corruption in our political system relates to campaign contributions for media advertising. Instead of ineffective regulations on campaign spending regulations loaded with loopholes, we should instead have a situation where broadcasters provide fair and totally free airtime for qualified candidates, issues, and legitimate members of the public a station serves.
Do away with all paid political advertising.

Let's see the FCC bring back restrictions on the ownership of stations, require most to be locally owned, require no financial ties to news, political and public affairs programming, and restrictions on the type and amount of advertising carried.

And the spectrum they're taking from us with the shutdown of NTSC should be allocated based strictly on the public good, not commercial interests or auction proceeds.

Do away with all paid political advertising. (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20846997)

BS!!! Freedom of Speech was guarantied expressly, though not only, for political speech.

Let's see the FCC bring back restrictions on the ownership of stations, require most to be locally owned, require no financial ties to news, political and public affairs programming, and restrictions on the type and amount of advertising carried.

Wrong again. Instead of adding FCC regulations, let's get rid of the FCC all to together. The FCC and it's predecessors were created in an era of scarcity of airwaves. With today's technology there is little scarcity. Allow whomever wants to to start a radio station. You allow that and you'll see a lot of radio stations pop up, most having a specific interest. Instead of having a few stations of classical, country, jazz, and rock you could have one specializing in New Orleans and another in Chicago Jazz. A country station could specialize in pop country while another plays bluegrass, another Western, and a third Zygo [thezygos.com] . One city could have a dozen different microstations.

And the spectrum they're taking from us with the shutdown of NTSC should be allocated based strictly on the public good, not commercial interests or auction proceeds.

See above.

Falcon

Re:Government & Business (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844929)

I'd bet money if an investigation into the FAA were performed, the same type of screwing of the public would be discovered. Right now the airlines, working with the FAA, are doing everything possible to screw over the paying public and to get out from under government funding oversight. Meanwhile hundreds of millions of the FAA's funding go unaccounted.

You want dangerous skies, higher ticket prices, and less government oversight of the airlines, make sure you don't do anything to contact your representatives.

Accountability! (4, Insightful)

cez (539085) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843181)

The FCC responded to the report saying that it feels its processes are always open and transparent and that Chairman Kevin Martin is looking for ways to make the commissions workings even more transparent and open.
Of course they feel that way. I feellike I should get a million dollars for this post. That doesn't make it happen.


The GAO obviously feels like they are not transparent, as the report indicates. How bout some actual accountability from the Government Accountability Office now? What are they going to do about it?


Besides hurting their feelings

Re:Accountability! (3, Interesting)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843297)

Unfortunately, hurting feelings is about the extent of the powers of the GAO [wikipedia.org] from what I understand. They make reports, and that's about it. They don't hold anyone accountable, they just say that someone should be accountable.

Re:Accountability! (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843707)

That's not their job. They're not supposed to have enforcement power. Not that it's not an attractive mental image to have an elite squad of GAO commando's busting into an FCC meeting, grabbing corrupt politicians and hauling their asses off to PMTA prison, but that's not what they do.

A congressman asks the GAO, "Hey is playing fair? Are they doing what they're supposed to do?"

GAO does some research, and responds, "Nope."

Then Congress has the opportunity to bust out massive whoopass, slash their funding, sell their children into slavery, etc, etc...They have the ability to do all kinds of enforcement, and even pass it up the line to the executive, who can call in the commandos, etc.

Though they probably won't do anything, because when does Congress ever do anything good? But they could, and that's how the system is supposed to work.

Re:Accountability! (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843747)

Dammit. Forgot to escape my brackets. That should be:

A congressman asks the GAO, "Hey is *insert name of organization* playing fair? Are they doing what they're supposed to do?"

Re:Accountability! (2, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844171)

They have the ability to do all kinds of enforcement, and even pass it up the line to the executive, who can call in the commandos, etc.

Up the line? Don't you mean down the line? The executive is supposed to be weaker than the legislative.

Re:Accountability! (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845103)

I'd argue "pass on to" the Executive, since (ideally) they're all supposed to be working towards the common good.

Re:Accountability! (0)

d'fim (132296) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845127)

What part of "three co-equal branches of government" don't you get?

Re:Accountability! (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845761)

The executive was intended to be weaker than the legislative. You can't have them all be exactly equal, you know...

ad logicam sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20844567)

ad logicam Claiming a product is great because it was presented as so in a do-it-yourself YouTube video.

Re:Accountability! (1)

cez (539085) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845245)

But they could, and that's how the system is supposed to work.


It's not a bug, it's a feature! ^^)

Re:Accountability! (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#20846743)

This congress does not even have the teeth to override a veto for Children's insurance, let alone sell them into slavery.

This is the most spineless, gutless, toothless congress critter i have EVER seen.

In 1990s, the republican congress stopped the country by refusing to pass the budget. This congress cannot even override a veto for the Children's sake,

Re:Accountability! (1)

Macdude (23507) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843741)

Unfortunately, hurt feelings is about the extent of the powers of the GAO from what I understand.

Exactly, the GAO is not an enforcement arm of your government, it's an investigative arm. Democratic Senator Edward Markey reqested the report and the GAO investigated the situation and reported back. The ball in now in Senator Markey's hands, it's his job to "do something about it".

Re:Accountability! (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844149)

They're just the investigative arm of Congress.

The Actual GAO report (3, Informative)

phatvw (996438) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843465)

Actual report: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d071046.pdf [gao.gov]

Report Summary http://gao.gov/docsearch/abstract.php?rptno=GAO-07-1046 [gao.gov]

Telecommunications: FCC Should Take Steps to Ensure Equal Access to Rulemaking Information
GAO-07-1046 September 6, 2007
Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF, 34 pages)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 established that FCC should promote competition and reduce regulation to secure lower prices and higher-quality services for American consumers. FCC implements its policy aims through rulemaking, whereby the agency notifies the public of a proposed rule and provides an opportunity for the public to participate in the rule's development. These rulemakings are documented within a public docket that contains the rulemaking record. In response to a congressional request on FCC rulemaking, GAO (1) described FCC's rulemaking process; (2) determined, for specific rulemakings, the extent to which FCC followed its process; and (3) identified factors that contributed to some dockets and rulemakings remaining open. GAO reviewed recent FCC rules, interviewed FCC officials and stakeholders, and conducted case studies of rulemakings.

FCC's rulemaking process includes multiple steps as outlined by law, with several opportunities for public participation. FCC generally begins the process by releasing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and establishing a docket to gather information submitted by the public or developed within FCC to support the proposed rule. Outside parties may meet with FCC officials but must file a disclosure in the docket, called an ex parte filing, that includes any new data or arguments presented at the meeting. FCC analyzes information in the docket and drafts a final rule for the commission to adopt. The FCC chairman decides which rules the commission will consider and whether to adopt them by vote at a public meeting or by circulating them to each commissioner for approval. Stakeholders unsatisfied with a rule may file a petition for reconsideration with the commission or petition for review in federal court. FCC generally followed the rulemaking process in the four case studies of completed rulemakings that GAO reviewed, but several stakeholders had access to nonpublic information. Specifically, each of the four rulemakings included steps as required by law and opportunities for public participation. Within the case studies, most ex parte filings complied with FCC rules. However, in the case studies and in discussions with other stakeholders that regularly participate in FCC rulemakings, multiple stakeholders generally knew when the commission scheduled votes on proposed rules well before FCC notified the public. FCC rules prohibit disclosing this information outside of FCC. Other stakeholders said that they cannot learn when rules are scheduled for a vote until FCC releases the public meeting agenda, at which time FCC rules prohibit stakeholders from lobbying FCC. As a result, stakeholders with advance information about which rules are scheduled for a vote would know when it is most effective to lobby FCC, while stakeholders without this information would not. The complexity and number of rulemakings within a docket and the priority the commission places on a rulemaking contribute to dockets and rulemakings remaining open. The commission determines when to open and close a docket and which rulemakings are a priority; therefore, the commission determines how a docket and rulemaking progress. Dockets and the rulemakings within them may remain open because the dockets are broad and include multiple rulemakings, or because the commission has not yet voted to close the dockets even though they include completed rules. Within dockets, some rulemakings may remain open because they involve complex, technical issues or because competing priorities can force FCC officials to work on one rulemaking as opposed to another. Stakeholders generally said they are not concerned about the number of open dockets.

the GAO and Accountability (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20847045)

How bout some actual accountability from the Government Accountability Office now? What are they going to do about it?

The GAO doesn't have the authority to change anything. All they can do is investigate for Congress then congress has to debate the issue and try to pass a bill.

Falcon

Re:the GAO and Accountability (1)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 6 years ago | (#20847589)

The GAO doesn't have the authority to change anything. All they can do is investigate for Congress then congress has to debate the issue and try to pass a bill.

Don't see how Congress has a role here. After all, the FCC rules are already in the law, it's just that the FCC is violating those laws. This sounds like a job for the Executive branch, charged with enforcing law!

Wait...the FCC is part of the Executive branch. Well, shit.

Re:the GAO and Accountability (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20847773)

Don't see how Congress has a role here. After all, the FCC rules are already in the law, it's just that the FCC is violating those laws. This sounds like a job for the Executive branch, charged with enforcing law!

Congress has at least two tools it can use, three really. First congress holds the purse strings and if an executive office won't uphold it's mandate it can withhold funds as well. Secondly congress can sue the executive branch, which as you say the FCC is part of, in the Supreme Court. Third congress can inform citizens the FCC and Bush isn't following the law. With emperor Bush it may not matter much though.

Falcon

A little too much? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20843213)

the Federal Communications Commissions has been favoring lobbyists a little too much
"a little too much" ? Isn't that like saying "the government is committing crimes a little too much" ?

Any amount of favoring lobbyists is a problem. I'm not saying lobbyists can't exist. But the (idealized) purpose of a lobbyist is to bring pertinent information and arguments to the attention of political officials. They should have no political influence beyond the persuasiveness of their arguments and the truthfulness of the data they present.

Perhaps I'm getting overly agitated by a simple little comment... but I am troubled by the fact that people increasingly accept that lobbyists will be able to influence the democratic process, and that their influence has to be balanced against other influences (e.g. voter opinion). This is not how it should be! Lobbyists should have no influence per se. As I said, the only thing that should matter is valid arguments about what is best for the populace.

Re:A little too much? (2, Insightful)

ObiWanStevobi (1030352) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843489)

Well, in theory, lobbyist are a healthy part of a representative democracy. Lobbyists do in fact represent a certain number of people, giving them a greater voice. That's pretty much how the House of Representatives works. Each district sends a lobbyist to lobby on behalf of that section of people. I'd say lobbyists are even a better idea, because they are supported by people who all have a common cause, not just a by-chance geographical proximity.

However, the problem with lobbyists today is that their influence is not determined by the number of people they represent, but how much money they move. For example, one lobbyist supported by Bill Gates could have more power than one backed by a million Linux supporters. AT that point government is not representative by people, but by money.

The problem is not the practice of lobbying, but the endless need for money to campaign with. Since we don't have any effective spending limits and flimsy donation rules, the problem can only get worse.

Re:A little too much? (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843735)

Why do we even have the FCC? The government needs to deregulate communications to encourage competition, take for instance the OS market that M$ with its illegal business practices manage to have a monopoly, next look at sky high cell phone fees all of these could benefit with government deregulation, I don't want my (far too high) tax dollars going to support MS, or any other company that only keeps its position due to flawed laws created by lobbyists with far too much power under companies with 0% innovation. The government should serve it's citizens, not trample their rights.

Re:A little too much? (1)

gmack (197796) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843971)

It could be argued that the rules should be more relaxed and consumer friendly but if not for the FCC the airwaves would be chaos.. consider any system where the largest power could drown out anyone else's signal.

I for one am glad my cell phone doesn't need to overpower other signal sources and can use the lowest possible transmission power wich results in better battery lives.

Re:A little too much? (3, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844507)

That's what the FCC is supposed to do. That's what it was created to do: Make sure everybody's toys will play nice with everybody else's toys.

Unfortunately, there are two other functions the FCC performs: One is to effectively act as a national censorship bureau. I fail to see any real need for a federal agency with the power to create AND enforce "decency laws" for public broadcast media.

The other is to act as an overseeing body for companies that deal with the first two functions (EM spectrum and public media). This is another bullshit function IMHO, and in context of this article the most blatantly corrupt seen in the federal government in a long while.

Regulating the radio frequencies is good and useful. We do not need a federal nanny and corporate shill along with it.
=Smidge=

radio transmission power (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20847419)

It could be argued that the rules should be more relaxed and consumer friendly but if not for the FCC the airwaves would be chaos.. consider any system where the largest power could drown out anyone else's signal.

Beyond a point no matter how much power a radio station has it's signal will be drowned out by competitors's signals. About all that's gained by increasing power is increasing distance but even then there are limits, shortwaves go further than longer waves. The only way any broadcaster would be able to make money broadcasting is if they voluntarily come to an agreement with other broadcasters. "I agree to broadcast at frequency X1 with a power of Y1 at location Z1 if you agree to broadcast at X2, Y2, and Z2." Anything else is nothing more than an arms races which will bankrupt all.

I for one am glad my cell phone doesn't need to overpower other signal sources and can use the lowest possible transmission power wich results in better battery lives.

The same thing can be done with other broadcasts, radio, tv, even WiMAX. Imagine being able to pickup a wireless broadband connection with a laptop just as easily as your cellphone finds a signal.

Falcon

look at sky high cell phone fees (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20847237)

Sky high phone bills? All I have is a cellphone. My bill for it is lower than the bill I had when I had a landline phone. And that doesn't count long distance calls, with the landline phone I had to pay for long distance however my cellphone plan covers them, I pay no more for long distance than I do local calls.

Falcon

Re:A little too much? (4, Insightful)

dkf (304284) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843737)

The problem is not the practice of lobbying, but the endless need for money to campaign with. Since we don't have any effective spending limits and flimsy donation rules, the problem can only get worse.
In other words, this is transforming a Representative Democracy into a Plutocracy (and an Oligarchic one at that, though that doesn't follow from what you said).

Re:A little too much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20847781)

Aye, no limits on campaign spending, but rather small limits on putting money into an IRA. WTF?

Re:A little too much? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844363)

Lobbyists can only donate as much as voters will stand for; where's the problem?

Re:A little too much? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844449)

How do you figure that?

MAXIMUM IMPACT was the name of VCR Head Cleaner (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20843253)

that they used to sell at Crazy Earl's in Fort Smith, Arkansas. i bought a shitload of it and huffed it for a few weeks nonstop. and now here i am, dancing like mad to some GOA Trance music in a full pair of Huggies.

So what's the problem? (4, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843261)

If big business wants it, it's obviously good for the American people! The market has spoken!

Re:So what's the problem? (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843407)

Contrary to corporates' ideas, the market consists of supplyers and demanders.

Re:So what's the problem? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20843941)

and demanders are demanding extremely poor crap at extremely low prices.

Oxymoron Finder says.... (0, Troll)

Lxy (80823) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843289)

We have a winner folks!

Government Accountability? That's almost as bad as "Microsoft Business Intelligence".

Re:Oxymoron Finder says.... (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843439)

C'mon, what a chance to use "Microsoft Works" and you let it slip.

I wonder if there's a slot in standup comedy for IT-related jokes...

Re:Oxymoron Finder says.... (1)

Lxy (80823) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843589)

I used to like "Microsoft Works" as an oxymoron, but after receiving an invitation from Microsoft to hear about "Microsoft Business Intelligence", I couldn't resist.

Re:Oxymoron Finder says.... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843691)

I don't necessarily see that as an oxymoron. They basically do have to have some kind of "business intelligence", or they would've gone out of biz by now. I mean, it's not like their products are so incredibly awesome that they practically sell themselves...

I don't see the problem... (1, Redundant)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843321)

...as long as the FCC is staffed with smart, intelligent individuals, why shouldn't they have a chance to hear everyone's opinion before they meet to discuss the topic. The extra time is useful for those who want to study the arguments and opinions of the lobbyists, and check the facts and logic behind them. Because... it doesn't matter WHO says it, if it turns out to be true.

Re:I don't see the problem... (3, Informative)

Trepalium (109107) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843997)

The problem? The problem is they aren't hearing everyone's opinions -- they announce the rules to specific lobbyists two weeks earlier than they announce it to the general public, and when they announce it to the public, they prohibit further lobbying. This is favouritism in every sense. Either allow all parties to lobby during those first two weeks, or allow no one to.

Re:I don't see the problem... (3, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844197)

Really, there ought to be prosecutions involved. This is malfeasance in office, maybe influence peddling, I don't know. Can any lawyers enlighten us as to what kinds of illegality might be involved here, if any?

Re:I don't see the problem... (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20847819)

...as long as the FCC is staffed with smart, intelligent individuals, why shouldn't they have a chance to hear everyone's opinion before they meet to discuss the topic. The extra time is useful for those who want to study the arguments and opinions of the lobbyists, and check the facts and logic behind them.

The problem is is not everyone has the amount of tyme in which they can talk to the FCC. Those favored by being given info two weeks earlier than everyone else have a distinct advantage.

Falcon

Dear Chairman Kev (3, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843331)

The FCC responded to the report saying that it feels its processes are always open and transparent and that Chairman Kevin Martin is looking for ways to make the commissions workings even more transparent and open.
I have a suggestion for you, Kevin: why not post HERE when an issue is about to come up for a vote, instead of keeping it a secret from everyone until it's too late? That would be even more transparent and open than your current strategy of secretly alerting your buddies beforehand with their obvious conflicts of interest while the public is kept in the dark. Someone in the FCC owns too much stock in the industry they're supposed to be regulating.

Pot/Kettle (-1, Troll)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843337)

I am in no way in favor of the corporate influence at the FCC. However, does anyone else find it disturbing that the FCC is being criticised for allowing a 2 week lobbying period by an organization that allows lobbying 24/7/365? I'd be willing to bet that the Congresscritter who requested the report has been lobbied more on communications issues than the FCC has.

Re:Pot/Kettle (1)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20846091)

The difference here is that everyone knows that Congress is open to lobbying all the time. It seems some people at the FCC have been telling just their friends about upcoming decisions, so only their friends get to make suggestions.

Re:Pot/Kettle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20851189)

There are a lot of misunderstandings in the comments here. The FCC cannot adopt any new rules or change rules without having previously issued a written public notice that invites comments from any member of the public. So everyone knows. Consumers can and do submit comments along with the corporations; it is really easy to do on the FCC's website. Then the proceeding may remain pending for months while the FCC tries to decide what to do. During this time anyone can ask to make an appointment with the FCC staff and ask what is going on; if they do, they have to report the visit including a description of any new facts or proposals they present, and copies of any handouts, and that report is posted on the FCC website for all to see. During these meetings, someone might ask "when is this ever going to get voted on?" And they might be told that the Chairman has circulated a draft and hopes to have it voted on in say 3 weeks. So what the lobbyists (or anyone else who might ask) are being told is not an otherwise secret that a rule might be voted on, it is that they are told that the two-minute warning has been sounded. And even if consumer groups don't get news of the two-minute warning, anyone watching the docket can figure it out because all of the sudden there would be a big uptick in disclosures of other parties making visits or sending letters to the FCC to discuss that docket, including a description of what they discussed. So a Consumers Union could see those reports on the FCC website and come in themselves to respond.

Don't get me wrong, the FCC makes lots of terrible decisions. But this "disclosure issue" isn't anywhere near the top of the list on what needs fixing.

Oh, Come on! (0, Troll)

avirrey (972127) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843371)

This happens everywhere across the whole world! Things are NEVER done on schedule, but somehow we expect government bureaucracy to be faster? Who are these people? Project Managers? Unlikely...

If I say I'll get the report to you next week, you actually won't get it until 2 or 3 weeks, that's how things work.

Besides, he only wants the report for scandal and sensationalism. Move along.

--
X's and O's for all my foes.

dumb editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20843393)

The congressman is in the House of Representatives. He is not a senator. RTFA

General (0)

rusher81572 (1005753) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843431)

IN soviet russia, the government slams you~!

As the song says.... (3, Insightful)

Cleon (471197) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843517)

Fuck the FCC: http://www.pythonline.com/plugs/idle/FCCSong.mp3 [pythonline.com]

Oh, why not? (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844817)

While we're at it: Fuck the MPAA [futuristicsexrobotz.com]

No Suprise Here (1)

jdjbuffalo (318589) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843553)

This isn't surprising to someone who pays only a minimal amount of attention to the decisions and reasoning presented by the FCC. The people at the top of this government department do nice things for their friends (telcos mainly) and in turn they get nice cushy jobs when they get done with their tenure at the FCC.

Perfect examples - add yours here (2, Insightful)

Zondar (32904) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843717)

Verizon FIOS and the 'disconnecting copper' claims. FCC looks the other way.

Broadband over Power Line and all the resultant RF interference... FCC manipulates measurement techniques, breaks it's own rules... Even international organizations say BPL causes excessive RF interference. FCC looks the other way. FCC brought to court.

The FCC Song (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20844267)

Free Song by the legendary Eric Idle [pythonline.com] about this administration's FCC

Ham radio has its day in court (1)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844285)

The American Radio Relay League (ham radio national org) is suing the FCC in Federal Court over its overt bias towards Broadband-Over-Power-Line systems. Apparently technical details mean nothing these days. Its all politics and lobbying. See www.arrl.org for details

Re:Ham radio has its day in court (1)

gbobeck (926553) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845701)

See www.arrl.org for details

For those who want a direct link to the relevant section about BPL, here it is... http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/plc/ [arrl.org]

73
W9QNY

Re:Ham radio has its day in court (1)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#20849321)

Thanks,

I decided the day I learned html was the day I was doomed, lol- after programming in 6 other languages over the years.

Also a better title would have been "Hams only ones to fight the FCC" or something like that.

I HATE Peter Pan...er..uh, I mean, the FCC (1)

IamWasabi (981508) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844383)

I've worked in radio for several years now and I was never really bothered by FCC regulations until I started researching the commission for a paper for school. They have so many biased, unnecessary, and out-dated codes it's ridiculous. I'm not surprised there's any sort of bribery or leaning going on.
If The FCC were a private corporation it would have been broken up as a Monopoly LONG ago.

Rock on, GAO! (4, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844467)

Is it just me, or has the GAO been a bright ray of honesty and objectivity in a government that otherwise continuously erodes our respect?

IANAL, but I've worked for them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845889)

...and I've spent some time at the FCC. Yes, lobbyists do find out about proceedings before release to the general public, but it's not as official as the article makes it sound. Lobbyists and their staff spend more time at the FCC and in conference with the staff. You hear rumors, you pay attention to what the staff are talking about, you pay attention to what researchers are asking for in the resource room, you develop relationships with the staff. There are always staff who want to drop hints about what they know and it's not like the lobbyists don't already know what the hot topics are anyway.

The general public may not hear about proceedings as early, but lobbyists don't just work for big business, they work for special interests groups too. Honestly, the public comments on proceedings don't mean anything to the FCC anyway. The real tragedy is that the GAO didn't release a report slamming the FCC for its complete lack of efficiency.

mi]nus 1, Troll) (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20846281)

For memb3rship.
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