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Corruption Road – A new resource to monitor how Big Media influences Washington Politics

July 1, 2010

Yesterday, the national media reform group Free Press, announced that it has begun a new online project called Corruption Road.

Corruption Road is unique, in that they not only look at how the Telecommunications industry lobbies Congress, they also profile which corporations are involved, which ones have paid lobbyists and which ones funded Astroturf groups.

For example, one could find out that the cable giant Comcast has spent $58 million lobby Congress since 1998. The page on Comcast also reveals that,

In 2007, Comcast was caught blocking legal file-sharing applications by secretly disconnecting Internet users without explanation. After getting caught, the cable giant tried to block public debate at a hearing on the matter by paying people to fill seats — closing the venue to concerned citizens. The FCC approved a bipartisan order forcing Comcast to stop its secret blocking, but Comcast successfully appealed the order, arguing in court that the FCC didn’t have the authority to protect Internet users.

Under the Lobbyist section one would find that AT&T has spent $14.7 million on 105 lobbyists in 2009. One of those lobbyists, James Cicconi has stated (in regards to Internet Neutrality), “These blocking concerns are a sham … there is no potential upside to Net Neutrality regulation.”

One of the best features of the Corruption Road site is their information on Astroturf groups. According to Source Watch, “Astroturf refers to apparently grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions that are primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms.”

In their Astroturf section you would discover information about front groups such as Broadband for America. “Broadband for America is an industry front group that receives money from AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable to paint a pretty picture about broadband access, innovation, choice and competition in America.

The Telecom industry is one of the largest and most influential when it comes to federal policy. The resources at Corruption Road can be useful tools when fighting for a better and more democratic media system.

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