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Franken Talks Net Neutrality at Music Summit

October 13, 2009 – Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said the government should ensure that the Internet remains democratic when he participated in the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit at Georgetown Oct. 4-6.

“As noisy and messy as it may be, the Internet is a democracy,” said Franken, expressing concern that low-income consumers might be limited by service providers charging for content or faster connections. “Free speech limited or free speech delayed is the same as free speech denied.”

Franken was keynote speaker at the summit, which brought music recording professionals and artists, broadcasters and to discuss technology and Internet policy in the music industry.

Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission; R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills; and Bob Boilen, host and creator of NPR’s “All Songs Considered;” also participated in the summit, co-sponsored by the performing arts and music department.

‘Separate but Unequal’ Internet

During Monday’s keynote address, Franken said he believes that prioritized Internet access will not only limit free speech through ISP censorship, but also make it much harder for musicians to find an outlet and an audience the way they are able to do today.

He fears that “a separate but unequal Internet” may occur if policymakers aren’t careful.

“(Net neutrality) does not interfere with free market -- it protects free market,” Franken noted.

Summit Draws Experts

After Franken’s lecture, music professor Anna Celenza moderated a panel, “NPR Music: Making Music Matter On-Air and Online,” with NPR’s Boilen; John Davis, musician and radio host of Milwaukee, Wis.’s WOKY; Anya Grundmann, executive producer of NPR Music; and Josh Jackson, special projects producer at WBGO in Newark, N.J.

“It was great to be able to talk with leaders in the field about the way public radio is reaching out to new audiences via the Web,” said Celenza, who worked at NPR as a staff writer and guest commentator before joining Georgetown.

This is the eighth year Georgetown has hosted the music policy summit. An integral player in this year’s event, Celenza, performing arts chair and director of the music program, said the breadth of the participants gave students and faculty further insight into the policy issues facing the music industry and consumers.

“I have learned so much,” she said, “and it’s been great to see students there. I’m looking forward to bringing a lot of these discussions into the classroom.”

Related Information

  • Department of Performing Arts
  • Georgetown Music Program

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