NCTA survey: 61% of Americans support ‘net neutrality’

NCTA President and CEO Michael Powell.

While the cable industry has staunchly supported rollback of the FCC’s Title II regulation regimen, its chief lobbying group released the results of a survey Thursday indicating that Americans are strongly in favor of some form of net neutrality regulation. 

In fact, of the 2,194 registered U.S. voters polled by NCTA – The Internet & Television Association last month, 61% indicated either strong or moderate support for net neutrality, as defined by rules stipulating that internet service providers including “Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T and Verizon, cannot block, throttle or prioritize certain content on the internet.”

Only 18% of voters oppose net neutrality. The full results of the survey can be found here (PDF). 

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Of course, it’s not necessarily what you ask U.S. voters, but how you ask them that counts. And that’s perhaps how a right-leaning special interest group like the NCTA is able to headline its press release promoting the survey with, “Majority of Americans Says Internet Should Be Lightly Regulated and Not a Public Utility, New Survey Reports.”

In other words, change the language of the questions that read, essentially, “should we protect consumers against large telecom companies” to “should the federal government regulate…,” and the answers are dramatically different. 

For example, NCTA also asked voters, “When it comes to the role of the federal government in regulating access to the internet, which of the following comes closest to your view, even if none are exactly right?"

Only 12% of respondents checked the box saying, “The government should have the ability to set specific prices, terms and conditions for internet access.” Meanwhile, 53% agreed with the assertion that “The government should have a light touch approach to the internet that allows regulators to monitor the marketplace and take action if consumers are harmed." Twenty-five percent said the government should not regulate the internet at all. 

Also, when asked, “How involved do you believe the government should be in regulating the internet?", 56% said the government should be “rarely involved,” while only 29% said it should be “actively involved.”

Upshot: 61% of Americans favor net neutrality rules, but 56% don’t want the government involved in regulating the internet.

Again, it’s how you ask the questions. 

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