Net neutrality repeal could damage local news

Repealing Net Neutrality would allow giant chain media to work in concert with

internet conglomerates to limit access to independent, alternative, and local news

sites, according to LION Publishers. The FCC is expected to vote on repealing

Net Neutrality on Dec. 14.

“Giving a clear go-ahead for a tilted playing field would be the result if the

Federal Communications Commission tosses out Net Neutrality,” said Dylan Smith LION’s chairman and the publisher of TucsonSentinel.com. Local Independent

Online News Publishers is a national nonprofit organization with more than 180

members operating locally focused news sites in 42 states. The group issued a

statement expressing deep concern about the FCC’s proposal to scrap Net Neutrality rules:

“Access to information and local journalism that holds government and other powerful institutions accountable is essential to a functioning democracy, economic

well-being, and human rights,” said LION Executive Director Matt DeRienzo.

“These pillars are already under severe strain from the dominance of a handful of

large tech platforms, and the rapid consolidation of the newspaper and broadcasting

industry under the control of a few enormous corporate chains.”

If Net Neutrality goes away, big Internet and wireless providers will be able to

charge individual publishers for levels of speed and access, a scenario in which a

handful of big companies with deep pockets could squeeze out the kind of small,

independent news publishers who are part of LION. This would severely limit

citizens’ access to information and could be devastating to local news, which big

publishers have whittled to the barest of bones.

“The FCC’s proposal would destroy the Internet as we know it by allowing IPSs to limit or block content,” said Charlotte-Anne Lucas, director of _NOWCastSA in

San Antonio. “Our news organization streams government meetings and public events.

Scuttling the principles of Net Neutrality would undermine our very democracy by

allowing cable, phone and other Internet connector companies to throttle our content and limit the public’s access to government,” added Teresa Wippel, publisher of the My Neighborhood News Network just north of Seattle and a member of LION’s Board of Directors: “This proposal threatens the very nature of open online access to vital news that in many communities is citizens’ only source of information.”