Common Carriers, Broadcasters, and the Fight Over the Internet: Toward a Material Model of Mediation


  • Sindhu Zagoren University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


In order to better understand the complexities of the policy issues that surround net neutrality we must turn our attention to processes of mediation itself, and how this is understood by dominant media institutions. To this end, this essay examines how the use of cable television blurred the distinctions between common carriers and broadcasters, challenging both models and redefining television as a medium. Cable changed the spatiality of mediation by creating both more channel space, and the physical location of the means of distribution. These material changes became the basis of an alternative media movement for Public, Educational, and Government access television. Through understanding the relationship between technology and space, we can conceive of a similar strategy to preserve Internet access. This is a call for a reframing of the political economy of media under capitalism a narrative that focuses on processes of mediation themselves.

Author Biography

Sindhu Zagoren, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Sindhu Zagoren received her M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is currently a doctoral candidate there. Her work focuses on how technological infrastructure rearticulates constructions of space and time, which in turn shape our lived environments. Her work also focuses on how agency functions within large-­scale actions and social change, and how infrastructural systems work in tandem with these processes both to maintain and challenge existing power structures.






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