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Ben Scott

“Net neutrality” rules must be implemented for content control while the government should quintuple federal funding for public and community broadcasting, Ben Scott, the State Department’s recently appointed policy adviser for innovation, argues.

Scott’s writings, last year in a radical magazine, were in an article co-authored by Robert W. McChesney, an avowed Marxist activist who has called for the dismantlement “brick-by-brick” of the U.S. capitalist system, with America being rebuilt as a socialist society.

McChesney is the founder of the George Soros-funded Free Press, which petitions for more government control of the Internet and news media.

Scott and McChesney also recommended the U.S. impose ownership limits on local radio, TV, and cable channels while pushing for more control of the media by the FCC.

The two were writing in the January/February 2009 edition of Tikkun Magazine, run by avowed Marxist Michael Lerner. Lerner has been accused of using the magazine to justify Palestinian terror and has written articles in which he suggested the 9/11 attacks were a response to U.S. policies.

“Whatever issue tops your list of priorities, real progress will be impossible unless we first change our media system,” wrote Scott and McChesney. “Currently, access to communications and control over media content are vested in the hands of corporate titans.”

The two recommended the following policy implementations:

  • Restore the original mission of the Federal Communications Commission as a guardian of the public interest. The FCC must become a 21st-century agency focused on the digital media marketplace of ideas and commerce, with a commitment to public engagement, transparency, and accountability.

  • Support ownership limits and public oversight to foster more diverse, competitive, and local ownership of radio, TV, and cable channels.
  • At a minimum, quintuple the federal funding for public and community broadcasting, to at least $3 billion annually – earmarking money for children’s and public affairs programming. Funding should come from fees paid by commercial licensees to the public airwaves.
  • Ban all advertising on broadcast and cable TV programs where over 33 percent of the viewership is under the age of 12. This is similar to the rules in many European nations.
  • Establish “Network Neutrality” rules that guarantee free speech and a free market on the Internet by prohibiting discrimination, manipulation, and interference by network owners like Comcast or AT&T.
  • Restore competition to the market in high-speed Internet access to break the hold of the cable-telephone duopoly on the nation’s “broadband” infrastructure.
  • Transition all public subsidies for telephone networks to fund infrastructure to bring the benefits of broadband to all Americans.
  • Authorize the license of more noncommercial, low-power FM radio stations in communities nationwide.
  • Open antitrust investigations into vertically integrated media companies that control production and distribution through anti-competitive practices.

“Net neutrality” refers to government demands for a principle for users’ access to networks participating in the Internet. The principle states that if a given user pays for a certain level of Internet access, and another user pays for the same level of access, then the two users should be able to connect to each other at the subscribed level of access.

Just last week, FCC commissioners voted 3-2 to approve controversial “net neutrality” rules, with the content of those rules, about 100 pages, still being rolled out.

Just in May, Scott was named a policy adviser for innovation at the State Department. He previously served as director of McChesney’s Free Press.

Scott authored a book, “The Future of Media,” which was edited by McChesney, who doubles as a professor at the University of Illinois and is former editor of the Marxist journal Monthly Review.

In February 2009 McChesney wrote in a column, “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.”

The board of Free Press has included a slew of radicals, such as Obama’s former “green jobs” czar Van Jones, who resigned after it was exposed he founded a communist organization.

In May, WND reported Free Press published a study advocating the development of a “world class” government-run media system in the U.S.

Now the group is pushing a new organization, StopBigMedia.com, that advocates the downfall of “big media” and the creation of new media to “promote local ownership, amplify minority voices, support quality journalism, and bring local artists, voices and viewpoints to the airwaves.”

Free Press has ties to other members of the Obama administration.

Obama’s “Internet czar,” Susan P. Crawford, spoke at a Free Press’s May 14, 2009, “Changing Media” summit in Washington, D.C.

Crawford’s pet project, OneWebNow, lists as “participating organizations” Free Press and the controversial Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.

Crawford and Kevin Werbach, who co-directed the Obama transition team’s Federal Communications Commission Review team, are advisory board members at Public Knowledge, a George Soros-funded public interest group.

A Public Knowledge advisory board member is Timothy Wu, who is also chairman of the board for Free Press.

Like Public Knowledge, Free Press also has received funds from Soros’ Open Society Institute.

With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott .


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