The debate over net neutrality has elicited some passionate responses from YouTube creators, many of whom would see their careers dramatically altered if drastic privatization of the internet were to become a reality. No one knows that better than the man who was once YouTube’s most subscribed star, filmmaker and “=3” creator Ray William Johnson. Johnson plans to produce a digital documentary examining the cable industry, the regional monopolies it created to control television service, and the way in which it’s positioned itself to do the same to the internet.
Johnson is teaming up with digital studio Supergravity Productions for the film which will focus on the recent history of the US cable industry. According to Johnson, cable giants have been able to create local monopolies on service that allow them to charge soaring prices and limit competition for better service. While he plans to turn his lens on the industry as a whole, early reports suggest that Comcast, one of the nation’s largest and some would say most widely despised providers, will receive the lion’s share of criticism.
While the film’s primary focus is cable television, the warning Johnson and his collaborators intend is clear. Left unchecked, cable providers have nearly eliminated any competition, maximizing their profits while minimizing consumer choice. Johnson, and many industry experts, believe they have the same idea in mind for internet service. As net neutrality debates continue to chug along in the legislature and in the courts, the film is meant to serve as a timely reminder of what could be this generation’s most important fight.
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