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Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
If you are someone who likes to watch live sports events on your mobile phone, then it is probably welcome news that ESPN may be in negotiations with a big telecom company to exempt its streaming video services from caps that limit how much data mobile users can download. Watching the NBA playoffs on your iPhone, without any free Wi-Fi to rely on, is an excellent way to chew speedily through your allotted bandwidth for the month. ESPN, reports the Wall Street Journal, wants to ensure that viewers get to eat as much cake as they want (and, of course, therefore be exposed to as many ESPN-delivered advertisements as possible).
But if you’re not an ESPN addict, you might do well to look askance at the news. That’s the take of Public Knowledge, a consumer-interest Washington-based public advocacy organization that quickly decried the possible ESPN deal as an obvious violation of the principle of “net neutrality.”
What is net neutrality? Public Knowledge defines it as “at its core … making sure that the company that connects you to the Internet does not get to control what you do on the internet … Imposing data caps on consumers and then allowing wealthy content holders to buy their way around them is a recipe for stagnation online.”
Public Knowledge’s post prompted an immediate backlash from telecom shills and frothing right-wing defenders against socialist encroachment. Daily Caller rolled out Scott Cleland, the chairman of NetCompetition, a lobbying group funded by cable and phone companies, to argue that the proposed ESPN deal was a classic example of how competition benefits consumers.
Apparently, some Washington-elites — who seek to impose a public one-size-fits-all Internet on everyone under the banner of “net neutrality” and “Internet openness” — are deeply threatened by the prospect of consumers getting more content delivery choices.
At RedState, the wonderfully monickered Seton Motley put down his monocle and blustered about the “ridiculous folly of the Left.” Public Knowledge isn’t a consumer interest group, he raged, it’s a “government interest group” whose sole goal is “growing government.”
Both Scott Cleland and RedState, intriguingly, brought up the same useful analogy to explain why Public Knowledge was off-base. When ESPN pays a company like AT&T to lift data caps for its streaming video, it’s just like any other company paying the phone company subsidized access to an 800 toll-free number.
Do these Leftist “consumer” groups oppose 800 numbers? Do they claim 800 numbers prevent you from calling other numbers? Do they claim 800 numbers hurt you –- the consumer? They would look ridiculous if they did.
There’s a good reason why the 800 analogy appears in both anti-Public Knowledge diatribes. Because it was originally suggested by AT&T itself back in February.
“A feature that we’re hoping to have out sometime next year is the equivalent of 800 numbers that would say, if you take this app, this app will come without any network usage,” [AT&T executive John] Donovan said on the sidelines of a mobile-industry conference here. It’s far from clear how willing technology companies would be to pay wireless carriers for data use. Mr. Donovan said there was interest from companies who could use the feature to drum up new business from customers wary of using data-heavy services like mobile video.
It surely comes as no surprise that a telecom lobbyist and RedState are simply repeating AT&T’s propaganda. But what’s really going on here requires no analogies or similes to understand. Simply put, if you have the cash to pay off the telecom carriers, you can get your data exempted from the caps. If you don’t have the cash, you’re out of luck. And that’s exactly what proponents of net neutrality are worried about: a future in which the wealthy have better access to the Internet than others. The defenders of “competition” and a “free market” have it all wrong. The pay-for-unlimited-bandwidth option actually restricts competition. That up-and-coming app developer with the cool new video streaming product who can’t afford to pay off AT&T or Comcast or Verizon ends up losing out. Entities with access to capital get a preferred position on our phones.
That’s not the “free market.” That’s the “bought-and-paid-for market.”
UPDATE: Mike Wendy of MediaFreedom.org points out that Public Knowledge has previously received financial contributions from Google, a strong supporter of net neutrality.
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.
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