Study: Do Americans Really Not Support FCC Neutrality Rules?

Shortly after the Federal Communications Commission voted to enact neutrality regulations, Rasmussen Reports released poll results supposedly showing that only one in five Americans support such rules.

But the poll's wording raises doubt about that conclusion. Consider, researchers posed the following question to 1,000 respondents: Should the Federal Communications Commission regulate the Internet like it does radio and television? Only 21% said yes, while 54% said no and 25% weren't sure.

The problem, however, is that the FCC's neutrality regulations aren't comparable to its rules regarding TV or radio licenses. Among the FCC's best known regulations regarding TV and radio are the controversial decency rules, which have resulted in broadcasters facing fines -- or lengthy court battles -- after airing nudity or expletives.

The FCC's neutrality order in no way attempts to impose similar decency rules online, but it's not clear whether poll respondents realized that. Instead, the rules prohibit all broadband providers from degrading or blocking material and wireline providers -- but not wireless ones -- from engaging in unreasonable discrimination.

Whether the new rules will effectively promote neutrality is another question. Some observers have criticized the order as weak, arguing that it doesn't adequately protect wireless users or explicitly prevent wireline providers from pay-for-prioritization deals that could grant certain companies fast-lane treatment.

But others, like Stanford law professor Barbara van Schewick, disagree. In the blog post "The FCC's Open Internet Rules -- Stronger Than You Think," she argues that the new rules will go a long way toward banning providers from giving preferential treatment to companies that pay more. "While the text of the order stops short of an outright ban of 'third-party-paid prioritization' arrangements, it seems to get as close to explicitly banning these arrangements as one can get without explicitly banning them," she writes. "The order explicitly endorses the concerns against these arrangements, unequivocally rejects the main arguments in favor of them, and concludes that 'as a general matter,' arrangements of this kind are 'unlikely' to be considered reasonable."

6 comments about "Study: Do Americans Really Not Support FCC Neutrality Rules? ".
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  1. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., January 6, 2011 at 7:20 p.m.

    This is like the "Health Care" debate - so many people have been brainwashed by mis-information money that they think they disapprove - but when you really spell it out to them, they realize they had no idea about the issues at stake. "Death Panels" and "Job Killer" is what people think about healthcare - because those are the lies they've been fed by Palin, et. al. When you explain that nobody is pulling the plug on Grandma, it just means that the Doctor can bill for "end of life" discussions (ever seen sombody die who doesn't want to be kept alive? Not pretty). Now, most people think that "The FFC is overstepping their bounds - creating un-needed regulation" - but when you explain to them that Net Neutrality really means that Comcast can't throttle Netflix data traffic on their internet connection - well, most of them aren't aware that comcast COULD do that under the pre-FCC ruling environment. People are sheep, lobbyists and big industry can sway their opinions by coming up with these easy-to-swallow sound bites. Death panels, indeed.

  2. Chuck Lantz from, network, January 6, 2011 at 7:36 p.m.

    When will people learn not to trust anything that comes from Rasmussen?

    I am sick of reading otherwise knowledgeable articles citing Rasmussen Reports. Their polling methodology has been repeatedly shown to be flawed, and their results are almost always at one end or the other of every compilation of polling results.

    Besides that, the owner of Rasmussen leans far-right, and is not ashamed to openly admit it in his appearances on radio talk shows such as Michael Savage, etc.

    If you need more evidence, check the wording of the question that was asked of those being polled. Even the author of the article noticed how skewed it was.

  3. Jonathan Allen from Rini Coran, PC, January 6, 2011 at 9:48 p.m.

    While the FCC's broadcast indecency rules are very different from its net neutrality rules, there are some problematic similarities between the two due to the FCC's enforcement approach. I discuss this in a piece I posted earlier today on my firm's TelecomMediaTech Law Blog:

  4. Brian LoCicero from Kantar, January 7, 2011 at 9:42 a.m.

    I'm in agreement with Jonathan.

    I offhandedly made a comment to my Father (67 who only started using a computer 10 years ago and really doesn't have depth of knowledge about the Internet) about how this was a very good thing. He launched into a rant about how they don't have that power and its bad for us. Since I know he watches Fox News Channel 24/7 it seems that their desire to puke on anything that comes out of this administration has no boundaries.

    Now, by no means do I hold FNC responsible as the mainstream media hasn't bothered to tell the right story EITHER but that's what happens when you start allowing ISPs to buy/run media outlets as well. I mean, this is my Father who absolutely can't STAND Comcast and refuses to do business with them.

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 7, 2011 at 6:54 p.m.

    They must mean Rasputin, not Rasmussen. Their question breeds contempt.

  6. Elliott Mitchel from Major Market Media Services, January 7, 2011 at 8:25 p.m.

    Congressman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee is running a poll on whether she should exhaust herself in an effort to defeat the FCC's takeover of the internets.

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