Coalition of Civil Rights and Media Justice Groups Urge the FCC to Abandon Pay-for-Play Proposal


Brandi Collins, Center for Media Justice, 510-698-3800, ext. 409

CJ Frogozo, ColorOfChange, 310-570-2622

Brian Pacheco, National Hispanic Media Coalition, 213-718-0732

Timothy Karr, Free Press, 201-533-8838

WASHINGTON -- Voices for Internet Freedom, a coalition of civil rights and media justice groups, called on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler to abandon his proposal to allow discrimination online.

The action follows serious concerns raised Wednesday by the agency’s two Democratic commissioners. In a speech, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called on Chairman Wheeler to delay introducing his proposal to allow for more public input. To do otherwise, she noted, “fails to respect the public response to his proposal.”

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn stated in a blog post that she favors prohibiting pay-for-priority arrangements and reasserting the agency's authority to protect an open Internet. “There is no doubt that preserving and maintaining a free and open Internet is fundamental to the core values of our democratic society,” she wrote.

Chairman Wheeler plans to introduce his proposal at the FCC’s meeting on May 15.His plan would destroy Net Neutrality by allowing Internet service providers to adopt a pay-for-play system. ISPs would be allowed to provide preferential treatment to companies that pay extra fees to have their Web traffic delivered at faster speeds. Companies and individuals who are unwilling or unable to afford the extra costs would end up in the Internet slow lane.

More than a million people have called on the FCC to protect Net Neutrality since a January federal appeals court decision tossed out the agency’s Open Internet Order. The court ruled that the Commission could not adopt Net Neutrality rules that prevent online discrimination without first reclassifying broadband Internet access as a common-carrier service. 

“An open internet is essential to the health and well-being of our communities — and we call for nothing less,” said Steven Renderos, national organizer for the Center for Media Justice. “Thankfully, we're joined by thousands of voices from across the country who feel the same way. The current FCC proposal does not offer this, and it must go. Our communities are getting crumbs from the Commission while the companies are getting away with the whole cake. We’re letting the FCC know how we feel. Our communities are among the most vulnerable and they deserve all the protections a public interest mandate demands. Reclassification is the way forward.” 

“It’s time for Chairman Wheeler to do the right thing and abandon his pursuit of rules that would destroy the open Internet and silence the voices of marginalized communities," said Joseph Torres, senior external affairs director for Free Press. "Public sentiment against his rules will only continue to grow as more people learn how unjust its effects would be. If the chairman cares about our right to connect and communicate online free from discrimination, he should move quickly to adopt rules that treat broadband Internet access as a common-carrier service.” 

“The growing volume of opposition and concern to the proposal currently before the FCC is deafening. And the message is clear — we will stand for nothing less than full protection of the open Internet so that it can remain the powerful force that it is today,” said Jessica Gonzalez, executive vice president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. “As countless people and companies have recognized, the only way to achieve this outcome is for the FCC to drop its current proposal and draft rules, based on sound legal authority, that would prevent blocking, discrimination and paid prioritization online. This requires the FCC to classify Internet access as a common-carrier service.”

“Chairman Wheeler has the legal authority and moral obligation to reverse a decade of failed Internet policy,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of “Millions of Americans are already forced to pay too much for low-quality Internet service, all while big corporations like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are given the green light to discriminate against content they don't approve of. The choice is clear. Chairman Wheeler can protect the public interest or relegate black and low-income communities to a second-class Internet.”