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Could a Twitter-Disney combination help close the digital divide on content?

Posted September 26th, 2016 in Broadband, mobile telephone, sponsored data, Twitter and tagged , , , by Alton Drew

Bloomberg has been reporting for the past few hours that Disney has retained an adviser to help the entertainment company craft a bid for Twitter. As the markets go through pre-debate jitters and are currently on a down note, Twitter is up over one percent while Disney is moving in the other direction. Twitter, while among the big social media three that includes Facebook and LinkedIn, has been struggling to define itself and grow the number of subscribers.  Today’s news comes as no surprise to me and I’m happy a media company is making a play versus your run of the mill advertising company (although Salesforce allegedly is interested in the micro-blog.

Twitter picked up a little notoriety last week when it live streamed a NFL game. I enjoyed watching it via Twitter, especially given the quality of the video. Today’s news has me thinking how minority content producers could benefit from a Disney acquisition of Twitter. According to Pew Research, 27% of blacks that use social media use Twitter versus 21% of whites. Also, blacks and Latinos show a tendency to rely more heavily on their smartphones (12% and 13% respectively) than their white counterparts (4%).

While it’s too early to say what Disney would do with Twitter as part of its portfolio, I think such an acquisition would provide Disney with basically another channel for deploying content, especially niche content such as programming produced for minority cultures. Mobile carrier zero rating or free data services could augment such a strategy by providing cost free access to minority-produced content. Not only would it be less expensive for low-income minorities to access content, but members of other communities could be introduced to another culture’s content at a reduced financial cost.

Until then, first things first. A bid will have to be made. Stay tuned.

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Michael Copps starting to sound like George W. Bush

Jon Brodkin posted a piece in Ars citing former Federal Communications Commission member Michael Copps’ call for Title II treatment of broadband providers.  Mr Copps reminds me of former president George W. Bush; asking Americans to implement a policy for a problem that doesn’t exist. Net neutrality is, for their advocates, the weapons of mass destruction that the Bushites claimed existed. Comcast v. FCC saw the Commission defeated for almost the same reason they lost in Verizon v. FCC; failure to establish expressed Congressional intent for the broadband regulatory treatment the FCC sought.

The only path the FCC can attempt to use to get a Title II reclassification is by getting there through their current sec. 706 authority to regulate broadband, and only to the extent that they are promoting the deployment of advanced services. The court won’t buy a sec. 706 stairway to Title II regulatory heaven.  Given that investment in broadband deployment is already occurring without Title II treatment, treatment that Congress has not authorized, the courts will send the FCC back home to the Portals with another vacated order.

In addition, the edge providers won’t want to be on the end of the slippery slope when the FCC starts feeling its oats and decides to push its consumer protection mantra on the likes of Google, Facebook, or Twitter. Edge providers are chomping at the bit to increase the strategic partnerships between them and broadband providers and additional regulations that impede those relationships will be frowned on by Silicon Valley.

Not to mention any jurisdictional battles in the privacy or consumer protection arena that may heat up between the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has asserted in the past that its expertise in privacy and consumer protection should give it primary jurisdiction in matters where internet companies are accused of wrong doing.

The FCC has a bad habit of opening up these doors and finding itself not in a position to best handle the onrush ….

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With minorities creating disproportionate amount of tweets on Twitter, how will ads look?

Twitter recently filed papers for an initial public offering earlier this week to become the last of the three prominent social networks to raise capital on a yet to be announced public stock exchange. Twitter is reportedly trying to raise up to $1 billion to put toward working capital, operating expenses, and capital expenditures.

According to the Pew Research, some 15% of online adults use Twitter, with 8% using it on any given day. Twenty-eight percent of online African American adults uses Twitter, with 13% using the social network on nay given day. In addition, 26% of online users age 18-29 are using Twitter.

Pew also notes there is a high correlation between Twitter usage and mobile technology usage. If you’re tweeting, it’s a good chance you are using a smartphone. Specifically, 16% of smartphone users are using Twitter on their smartphones. African American and Latinos, demographic groups known for their disproportionate use of smartphones, will more likely lead in the use of Twitter via mobile devices.

Eighty-five percent of Twitter’s 2012 revenue came from advertising, according to an analysis done by That amounted to $269 million out of a total of $317 million in 2012. Granted, social media is a different beast from traditional media, but there may be concerns about discrimination in advertising if Twitter follows the poor lead of its broadcast brethren. So far that concern hasn’t been raised by advocates for fairness in advertising, and I don’t see who would be responsible for addressing the issue, should it become one. For example, the Federal Communications Commission has no jurisdiction over social networks, but the Federal Trade Commission does flex its muscle on issues of competition in markets, privacy and advertising, so Twitter may wish to nip discrimination in advertising very early and avoid one regulatory nagging point.

Alton Drew serves as a managing director of The Drew Fonza Project, a public policy research and consulting firm. He provides public policy analysis for broadband investors, municipal bond investors, private equity firms, hedge funds, investment banks, industry associations, and individual investors.
Visit to purchase reports on political environments impacting your telecom investments or to request a customized report. E-mail him at

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Ooops. I hope I’m not stirring up a liberal uprising

We are in the middle of the silly season and social networking sites will be abuzz this week as the Democratic Party kicks off its national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s a good time to have a broadband connection as the activity on Twitter showed last week during the Republican Party’s convention in Tampa, Florida. Whether you support the GOP or not, if you are an avid political geek as yours truly, you were definitely getting in your two cents on how well the Republicans were making their case for whether they should be allowed four years in the White House.

Pew Research recently released an assessment of how all this tweeting and Facebook posting is impacting political discourse in America. Overall, the report found that postings to social networking sites are having some impact on political views, especially among people who identify themselves as Democrats or liberals. According to Pew Research, 24% of liberal social network site users and 18% of moderate social network site users said that use of social network sites have prompted them to change their political views. Only 11% of conservatives who use social network sites are prompted to change their views as a result of interacting online.

In addition, 25% of social network users have become more active as a result of using social network sites. Sixteen percent of social network site users have changed their political views as a result of interacting on the sites. Nine percent of social network site users took the opposite turn and became less engaged with political discussion as a result of postings online.

Oh well. Happy tweeting and see you tonight online at least.

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Chairman Genachowski. It’s Your Turn to Tweet

Posted July 25th, 2012 in FCC, Government Regulation, Twitter and tagged , , by Alton Drew

Today Federal Communications Commission member Jessica Rosenworcel joined the Twitter ranks, launching her Twitter account much to my delight. I was so elated I even sent a quick hello to welcome her to the platform. Twitter can provide a public servant a quick way to get their messages out to the public. Just ask Mayor Corey Booker of Newark about how effective Twitter is.

While I don’t expect Ms. Rosenworcel to go digging snow on the streets of Washington or running into burning houses to save kittens, I look forward to what I call political heroism as she provides us with a little more transparency and insight on policymaking at the FCC.

Now it’s time to get the rest of the commissioners on board. Maybe they will follow their leader, Chairman Genachowski once he gets a Twitter handle. If he’s scratching his head about an appropriate name for his account, I came up with a couple.

Mr. Genachowski could try TheOriginalGFCC or TheGmanFCC. Something funky and outside the box would make interacting with the commish pretty cool. You can have fun with it, Mr. Genachowski. The public will also appreciate a tweet every now and then explaining what the FCC is all about and how specific initiatives are impacting them.

Anyway, see you in the Twittersphere…