Publishers' Group Largely Backs FCC's Neutrality Proposal

The Online Publishers Association is supporting a controversial proposal to allow Internet service providers to enter into “commercially reasonable” deals with content companies for fast delivery.

But the OPA adds that the FCC should offer a more precise definition of commercially reasonable than the one put forward in the initial proposal. That proposal says paid prioritization agreements are unreasonable if they “threaten to harm Internet openness and all that it protects.”

The publishers organization says in written comments that the FCC should “adopt a 'commercially reasonable' standard that is more clearly defined and, perhaps, share examples of ISP practices that, over time, are not considered commercially reasonable.”

The OPA also supports a less controversial FCC proposal to prohibit broadband providers from blocking content.

Jason Kint, CEO of the publishers group, says that the organization for now is focusing on preventing broadband providers from censoring material. “We want to make sure the consumer is able to get to our content without any obstacles, like blocking by ISPs.”

So far, the FCC's proposed broadband regulations have drawn more than 700,000 comments by trade organizations, broadband providers, content companies, digital rights groups and individual consumers.

Many digital rights groups and organizations representing “edge providers” -- content companies like Google and Netflix -- have opposed the proposal for paid prioritization arguing broadband providers shouldn't discriminate when delivering traffic. The Electronic Frontier Foundation said in its comments, also filed late on Tuesday, that the proposal offers “a murky set of guidelines that are more likely to line the pockets of telecommunications lawyers than protect the open Internet.”

The group added that paid prioritization is one of the practices that could turn the Internet into “something like the old broadcast model, where a few powerful companies had inordinate power over the public sphere.”

"Internet Neutrality" photo from Shutterstock.
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