This post was originally published at RepublicReport.org
In a move that smacks off censorship, Republic Report has discovered that a telecom industry-affiliated lobbying group successfully persuaded an African-American news website to remove an article that reported critically on the groups advocating against net neutrality. The order to delete the article came from the website’s parent company, a business partner to Comcast.
Last Friday, I reported on how several civil rights groups, almost all with funding from Comcast, Verizon and other Internet service providers, recently wrote to the Federal Communication Commission in support of Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan, which would create Internet fast lanes and slow lanes, an effective death of net neutrality. That piece was syndicated with Salon and The Nation, and several outlets aggregated the article. For a short period, NewsOne, a news site geared towards the African-American community, posted the piece along with its own commentary.
Then, the NewsOne article with my reporting disappeared.
If you Google the term ‘MMTC NewsOne,’ the NewsOne article (“Civil Rights Groups Blocking Efforts To Keep Internet Fair?”) still appears in the result list, though if you click it, it’s been deleted from the web. Luckily, the Internet cache still has a copy.
According to discussions with several people at NewsOne, including an editor there, the decision to take down the article came from corporate headquarters. NewsOne editor Abena Agyeman-Fisher told Republic Report, “The company didn’t feel it was appropriate to have up and we were supposed to take it down.” NewsOne is owned by Radio One, a company with a 50.9 percent stake in a business partnership with Comcast, known as TV One.
NewsOne was also contacted by a lobbying group called the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC), an organization that has gained infamy for frequently mobilizing black, Latino and Asian-American groups to advocate on behalf of telecom industry-friendly positions, including recent big media mergers. On Monday, according to an attendee at an MMTC conference, MMTC vice president Nicol Turner-Lee referred to my reporting as a “digital lynch mob.” Turner-Lee, who resigned her previous position at a nonprofit after allegations of financial impropriety, reportedly claimed that minority organizations that support Title II reclassification—the only path for effective net neutrality after a court ruling in January—are not “true civil rights leaders.”