Monday, October 4, 2010

Patt Morrison for Tuesday, 10/5/2010


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

1-3 p.m.




1:00 – 2:00




2:00 – 2:30

FCC v. AT&T: Corporation’s right to “privacy” v. the public’s right to know

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began an investigation into AT&T’s billing practices back in 2004.  The investigation led to a $500,000 settlement with the telecommunications giant.  The details of the investigation were not released to the public, but a Freedom of Information Act request was filed because the company was accused of overcharging its customers.  AT&T filed suit and claimed that the information could not be released to the public because “corporations, like individuals, face the prospect of public embarrassment, harassment and stigma based on their involvement in such investigations”.  A court of appeals agreed with AT&T, and now it’s up to the Supreme Court of the United States to decide whether corporations have the same privacy rights as individuals.  If the court upholds the decision, public access to the results of government investigations involving such things as auto safety violations (Toyota), environmental problems on offshore oil rigs (BP), and unethical policies at financial institutions (Goldman Sachs) could be shielded from the public in favor of protecting a corporation’s right to privacy. The Associated Press, Bloomberg L.P., CNN, the Newspaper Association of America, NPR Inc., and many others filed friend of the court briefs on behalf of the FCC.  Should corporations have the right to privacy and protection from the release of information that could prove embarrassing or even harmful to their bottom line or reputation? Or should corporations, like public figures, be treated differently under the law? Is there some value or public good that stems from releasing information about corporate malfeasance? 



Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media & Democracy



  • The Center for Media and Democracy is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, public interest organization that focuses on investigating and countering spin by corporations, industries, and government agencies.
  • Graves was the chief counsel for nominations for the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clinton Administration
  • Graves was the former Deputy Assist Attorney General in the office of legal policy for the Clinton Administration.


David Cuillier, he is committee chairman for the Society of Professional Journalists and an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Arizona



  • He is co-author of "The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records," He teaches a class in government secrecy, and does research in freedom of information.



Matt Winkler, editor & chief, Bloomberg News

  • This decision could have major implications for Bloomberg’s case against the Fed. That case may make its way to the Supreme Court. 


Representative of AT&T


Jonathan Collegio, communications director, American Crossroads


  • A conservative fundraising organization affiliated with Republican strategist Karl Rove.  .


  • American Crossroads is a non-profit political organization dedicated to renewing America’s commitment to individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise and a strong national defense—through informed and effective political action.



2:30 – 2:40

Verizon agrees to pay $50 million for not listening to customers…and overcharging them

“Can you hear me now?”  Then you might have a $6 refund coming your way.  Cell phone giant Verizon announced this weekend that it will repay $50 million it overcharged 15 million customers for applications they did not use.  Customers who tried out the free demo version of an app on their cell phones were hit with an extra fee while some were charged for accessing the Internet, even if they did so accidentally and canceled the service right away.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reportedly launched an investigation into the charges after angry Verizon customers said their repeated complaints of overcharges fell on—quite ironically, considering their tagline—deaf ears and the charges continued.  It’s not the first time a telecommunications company has shelled out for overcharging—Verizon agreed in 2004 to pay as much as $88 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging that it charged nearly 170,000 California customers monthly rental fees for rotary-dial phones they no longer used and last year Sprint agreed to pay $17.5 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged it was charging improper fees to customers trying to end their wireless contracts.  But would you notice a $1.99 charge on your monthly bill and was this (another) honest mistake on Verizon’s part?




TBA, consumer advocate writer for

TBA, representative with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)


2:40 – 3:00

The Wind Doesn’t Need a Passport: Stories from the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Journalist Tyche Hendricks trekked through deserts and jungles, helped pregnancy test cattle and bury hurricane victims, monitored polling stations and learned to cook pollo en mole as she gathered the stories of those who live along the U.S.Mexico border. Through the eyes of ordinary Americans and Mexicans – cowboys, factory workers, physicians, Indians, naturalists, business owners -- a new picture of the borderlands emerges, and we find that this region is not the dividing line so often imagined by Americans, but is a common ground with shared concerns and a strong sense of history.


Tyche Hendricks (TIE-kee), editor for The California Report on KQED Public Radio in San Francisco. She spent more than a dozen years at newspapers, most of them at the San Francisco Chronicle, where she covered the intersection of culture and politics – reporting on immigration, demographics and immigrant communities. She teaches at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.



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