WGAW Assails FCC’s Proposed Repeal of Open Internet Rules

Contact: Gregg Mitchell (323) 782-4651
The WGAW is leveling strong criticism against the determined effort by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to eliminate the rules that protect the open Internet.

LOS ANGELES – The Writers Guild of America West is leveling strong criticism against the determined effort by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to eliminate the rules that protect the open Internet. In today’s filing with the FCC the Guild calls out this proposal as an ideologically driven scheme that will hand over the Internet to a few corporate gatekeepers.

The 2015 Open Internet Order was the logical and necessary result of a decade of bipartisan FCC policymaking to protect the public’s nondiscriminatory access to the content, services and applications of their choice. The rules were upheld in 2016 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, after it twice threw out FCC attempts to craft legally enforceable net neutrality regulations. Nothing has changed between 2015 and the present day to warrant a complete reversal of Commission policy other than the ascendance of an Administration that favors a handful of powerful corporations at the expense of the public interest.

By proposing to repeal the rules that are based on Title II classification, the FCC ensures the end of an open Internet. The Commission will not have legal authority to implement or enforce rules that limit anti-competitive conduct by Internet service providers (ISPs), which will usher in an era of paid prioritization and other discrimination. This constitutes a significant threat to the online video market that has developed so rapidly precisely because of the ability to reach viewers without interference by gatekeeping ISPs.

For writers the open Internet has meant dynamic growth in the digital video marketplace. More buyers are competing for scripted content and new distribution outlets are reaching audiences around the world. It is expected that in 2017 Guild members will write as many as 100 original online series.

“As a 27-year-veteran writer, who started out in television in the days when there were only three BIG networks and one smaller one, Fox, I can honestly say that an open Internet has created a revolution in creative content the likes of which I’ve never before witnessed,” Nicole Yorkin, co-creator of the Amazon series Z: The Beginning of Everything, states in the filing.

In an appeal to the Commissioners not to rescind the current rules, Zander Lehman, creator and showrunner of the Hulu series Casual, warns, “Changing the open Internet rules will mean ceding creative control to the few. It will give unprecedented power to ISPs who have already profited handsomely through lack of competition…”

To read the complete filing click here.

The Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) is a labor union representing writers of motion pictures, television, radio, and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. Founded in 1933, the Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members. It is involved in a wide range of programs that advance the interests of writers, and is active in public policy and legislative matters on the local, national, and international levels. For more information on the WGAW, please visit: www.wga.org.