Prewitt set to call for Net oversight

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The major studios may have staked their flag on network neutrality at ShoWest in Las Vegas last month, but independent filmmakers plan to take their side of the argument to the FCC in Palo Alto, Calif., this week.

Independent Film and Television Alliance chief Jean Prewitt is scheduled to be the "content industry" witness at the commission's Thursday field hearing on the issue at Stanford University.

The FCC has scheduled a panel discussion on the issue before opening the hearing to the public for comments. While the commission had not released a witness list by late Monday, sources said Prewitt was tapped as the content community's representative.

The content community is split over the network neutrality issue, with the major studios condemning government intrusion into network management issues.

MPAA president and CEO Dan Glickman used his state-of-the-industry speech at ShoWest to underscore the major studios' opposition to government intervention, saying that it would undermine studio efforts to fight piracy and reach consumers.

"Government regulation of the Internet would impede our ability to respond to consumers in innovative ways," Glickman said. "And it would impair the ability of broadband providers to address the serious and rampant piracy problems occurring over the networks today."

Prewitt, however, has a different view.

She fears that indies will get shut out if the government doesn't take action preventing the network companies from blocking content or favoring their own programming or programming in which they have a interest.

Following Glickman's speech, she sent a letter to him explaining their differences.

"The issue is not whether government should regulate the Internet, but whether there will be effective oversight to prevent a handful of corporate giants from imposing their own versions of private regulation to the public's detriment," she wrote.

The FCC has two petitions before it asking the commission to take action on the issue.
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