The dream of wireless providers like Verizon and AT&T -- or any company, really -- is to be able to charge twice for providing the same service. In working towards that goal they're getting a big assist from ESPN and tearing down net neutrality in the process.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that ESPN is in talks with "at least one" major U.S. wireless internet provider to "subsidize wireless connectivity on behalf of its users." This means that they're willing to pay a wireless carrier like AT&T a significant chunk of change to enable ESPN viewers to stream unlimited sports programming to their mobile devices without having to worry about exceeding the carrier's monthly data caps. So wireless subscribers would pay AT&T for access to the internet, and ESPN would pay AT&T for access to the customer. One service, two charges.
And if AT&T does end up pairing with ESPN on this scheme, that wouldn't be surprising given that AT&T has been trying to work out ways to double-charge for their services for quite some time. Last February the Journal reported that the wireless carrier was scheming out a way to charge developers of data-intensive mobile apps for the traffic AT&T subscribers incurred while using their products, and on May 15 AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told investors that he expects those plans to be in effect soon. They also tried to double-charge customers for the privilege of using Apple's FaceTime videochat app -- a potential violation of the almost-impossible-to-violate Open Internet rules. They eventually made FaceTime available to all subscribers except those who still have unlimited data plans grandfathered in from before AT&T switched over to tiered plans with data caps.
That should give you an idea how much wireless carriers love data caps and how central they are to their future business models. It's a lucrative proposition for them: set up the cap, charge customers who go over it, and charge companies who can afford to pay to get around it. And that's where the net neutrality concern comes in: wireless carriers who allow companies to circumvent their data limits are, in effect, prioritizing the content of those companies and disincentivizing subscribers from seeking out content from companies who haven't paid for the exemption. As Public Knowledge put it: "Imposing data caps on consumers and then allowing wealthy content holders to buy their way around them is a recipe for stagnation online."
From the April 7 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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Following the lead of an ESPNOutdoors.com opinion writer, conservatives have in recent days advanced the outlandish charge that Obama "wants to ban sport fishing." The ESPNOutdoors.com writer provided no evidence for his claim that a federal strategy "could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing," and the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force's interim report on coastal and marine planning has proposed nothing of the sort.
Today, ESPNOutdoors.com Executive Editor Steve Bowman acknowledged that "we made several errors in the editing and presentation of this installment. Though our series has included numerous news stories on the topic, this was not one of those -- it was an opinion piece, and should clearly have been labeled as commentary." Bowman added that "this particular column was not properly balanced and failed to represent contrary points of view." From Bowman's piece:
ESPNOutdoors.com inadvertently contributed to a flare-up Tuesday when we posted the latest piece in a series of stories on President Barack Obama's newly created Ocean Policy Task Force, a column written by Robert Montgomery, a conservation writer for BASS since 1985. Regrettably, we made several errors in the editing and presentation of this installment. Though our series has included numerous news stories on the topic, this was not one of those -- it was an opinion piece, and should clearly have been labeled as commentary.
And while our series overall has examined several sides of this topic, this particular column was not properly balanced and failed to represent contrary points of view. We have reached out to people on every side of the issue and reported their points of view -- if they chose to respond -- throughout the series, but failed to do so in this specific column.
This series started in October and has included several updates on how the creation of that task force and its actions could impact recreational anglers. ESPNOutdoors.com should have made it clear to all readers that this was part of a larger series, and -- even though this was Montgomery's opinion, and those of the sources quoted in the column -- we should have taken more care to fairly represent opposing arguments.
We do feel it is our duty to cover issues surrounding outdoor sports to the best of our abilities, and given the nature of this task force and the potential impact on all fisherman, this was an appropriate topic to address for our audience. We take seriously the tenets of journalism that require we take an unbiased approach, and when we make mistakes in the presentation of a story or a column, it is our responsibility to admit them.
Any confusion on that part rests entirely on my shoulders as the executive editor of this site.
We have appended the original column to note that it was in fact a commentary, and we will institute more rigorous editing safeguards in order to prevent such issues in the future.
Following the lead of an ESPNOutdoors.com opinion writer, who provided no evidence for his claim that a federal strategy "could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing," right-wing blogs have advanced the outlandish charge that Obama "wants to ban sport fishing." These media outlets cited the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force's interim report on coastal and marine planning, but the task force has proposed nothing of the sort.
From the October 6 edition of ESPN's Pardon The Interruption:
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