In 2015, Free Press celebrated our two biggest victories yet: We secured real Net Neutrality rules at the Federal Communications Commission and derailed Comcast’s bid to take over Time Warner Cable.
All year, we defended our victories — in Congress, in court and in the press — against attacks from the giant phone and cable companies, their lobbyists and the politicians doing their bidding.
But we didn’t do it alone.
Allies like YOU made all the difference.
Major Win —
We Saved Net Neutrality !
On Feb. 26, in a meeting filled with repeated standing ovations, the FCC adopted its landmark open Internet protections in response to a decade of nonstop advocacy from Free Press and our allies. The FCC put its new Net Neutrality rules on strong legal footing by restoring its authority over broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. And for the first time ever, we have rules that apply to mobile Internet connections. The agency’s final order cited Free Press analysis close to 70 times .
Grassroots advocacy groups began gathering outside the building more than four hours before the 1 p.m. vote [at the FCC]. … “We have been out here pretty much every month — in rain, sleet and now snow,” said Craig Aaron , president and chief executive of Free Press , an activist group that promotes Internet openness .
What the Net Neutrality Win
Means for You
These protections safeguard your freedom of expression online. Internet service providers like Comcast can’t dictate where you go, what you share, or what you watch online.
You’re changing how policy is made in Washington. The 4 million people who spoke out for real Net Neutrality changed the debate and turned FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler from an opponent into a champion.
You can influence what happens next. We have major momentum on our side — and we’ll use it to defend our victory and build toward bigger wins that will keep the cable companies in check and make the open Internet affordable and available to everyone.
We Fought Back When Cable and Phone Companies Attacked the Net Neutrality Rules
The big Internet service providers and their lobbyists — not to mention their friends in Congress — wasted no time trying to kill these open Internet protections. Comcast and its cronies went after the rules in Congress, court and the press. Free Press fought back on every front.
We Stopped Congress from Destroying Net Neutrality
Anti- Net Neutrality lawmakers convened five hearings designed to undermine the rules; we live-tweeted the proceedings to discredit false claims from the cable lobby.
Once more, with feeling! Hearing no. 5 on #NetNeutrality -- largely repeating the same myths and claims we've debunked 100 times.
Twenty-three House Republicans introduced a resolution of disapproval to overturn the rules. Thanks to you, the resolution never made it out of committee.
We worked with our Voices for Internet Freedom partners to pressure members of the Congressional Black Caucus to drop their opposition to the rules.
In a sneak attack on Net Neutrality, the House attached three riders aimed at gutting the rules to a must-pass appropriations bill. The next month, the Senate took up similar legislation.
The Free Press Action Fund teamed up with Demand Progress and the Media Action Grassroots Network to organize a Net Neutrality Drop-In Day at congressional offices. More than 1,200 activists took part , urging lawmakers to stop messing with the Internet .
We organized in-person meetings in 11 states where scores of Free Press Action Fund members urged their lawmakers to speak out in support of the Net Neutrality rules.
The budget process restarted and open Internet foes revived the riders during the year-end push to pass the spending bill. With you by our side, the Free Press Action Fund fought back once again on Capitol Hill.
Big win! The anti- Net Neutrality measures were removed from the final budget deal.
We’re Defending Net Neutrality in Court
After ISPs and their lobbyists sued to overturn the rules, Free Press intervened in court to defend both these protections and the FCC’s authority to enforce them. We coordinated the filings from our allies and constructed the legal arguments used in the briefs to safeguard the rules.
“We’re confident the FCC’s ruling will stand up in court because the agency chose the correct legal path to protect the rights Congress gave to Internet users,” said Matt Wood, policy director at awareness group Free Press.
On Dec. 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard arguments in the case of United States Telecom Association v. FCC . Our counsel, representing Free Press and close allies, mounted a forceful defense of the Net Neutrality rules and the FCC’s authority .
We’ve done all we can to ensure the court upholds the rules in 2016. But we’re prepping for every possible outcome — including more congressional attacks and a possible appeal to the Supreme Court.
We Set the Record Straight
“It’s time for opponents of the Federal Communications Commission’s Net Neutrality rules to drop the tired argument that these protections will harm investment. The facts show that they haven’t.”
Companies like Comcast aren’t used to losing — so we weren’t surprised to see them resort to dirty tricks in the press. We tracked industry-fronted pieces spreading misinformation about the rules — then skewered these arguments via fact sheets and our own Op-Eds.
Standing Up for Privacy
The Free Press Action Fund and our allies achieved modest progress via the June passage of the USA Freedom Act, the first time the government has reined in some of the NSA’s powers to spy on innocent Americans since before the 9/11 attacks .
We’ll continue to fight dangerous bills like the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, which was signed into law after proponents snuck it inside a must-pass government-funding bill at the end of the year.
We’re challenging efforts to expand surveillance programs in the wake of recent terrorist attacks. And we’re working with our Voices for Internet Freedom partners to combat targeted surveillance of communities of color.
Expanding Internet Access
In February, the FCC moved to preempt laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that prevent municipalities from creating their own high-speed broadband networks. The Free Press Action Fund is pushing Congress to enact legislation that would ban such restrictions in all states .
In September, we submitted comments supporting the FCC’s efforts to update the Lifeline program and improve broadband access for millions of low-income Americans. A final vote is anticipated in early 2016. But fixing Lifeline is just a first step: The FCC needs to do more to promote competition and lower broadband prices.
Victory! We supported a grassroots-led coalition that in October succeeded in pushing the FCC to cap the rates of local, in-state and long-distance prison-phone calls.
Free Press is fighting data caps and other discriminatory tactics phone and cable companies use to gouge their customers and undercut their competition.
“T-Mobile imposed these caps in the first place,” said Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press . “It’s a cheap sales trick: First you fabricate a problem for customers; then you make that problem go away and act like you’ve done them a huge favor.”
Major Win — We Stopped the Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger!
In April, Comcast dropped its $45 billion bid to take over Time Warner Cable, a deal that would have crushed competition, raised prices — and given one company unprecedented control over how we connect online.
Free Press led the coalition that defeated this merger. We organized rallies and helped activists speak out at hearings, delivered more than 400,000 petition signatures, and underscored the deal’s many harms in our extensive filings at the FCC.
The demise of this merger is a huge victory for broadband users nationwide. As with the Net Neutrality win, the combination of public activism and top-notch policy analysis made this victory possible.
Opponents of the deal, like the public interest group Free Press , are in a celebratory mode. Free Press CEO Craig Aaron credited the government regulators “who have listened to the public .”
The TimeWarner/Comcast merger is dead! Congrats 2 orgs who fought 2 stop it & won! #NetNeutrality @mediajustice @freepress @mediamobilizing
What the Comcast Win Means for You
People power can triumph over corporate power. Comcast failed in its quest to monopolize Internet access — despite spending a whopping $336 million to try to sell the merger to Washington.
Internet users are now a force to be reckoned with. The momentum from the Net Neutrality win fueled the victory on this front — and Comcast’s loss will make it that much harder for companies to close similar deals.
How We Won
Check out our top takeaways from the Net Neutrality and Comcast wins.
We’re Heading Off the Next Mega-Merger
Charter wants to be the new Comcast — and is trying to buy Time Warner Cable for $78.7 billion . We’re drawing on our success in defeating the Comcast merger to sink this one:
Our original research reveals how harmful this merger is: If it goes through, Charter and Comcast together would offer service to nearly 80 percent of U.S. homes.
We’re also showing how wasteful this deal is: To pay off the enormous debt it would need to take on, Charter would have to hike its already sky-high prices.
Free Press worked with Demand Progress and other allies to launch NoMoreMergers.com. Already more than 200,000 people have signed the site's petition urging the FCC to block this deal.
Other Fronts in the Fight for Your Online Rights
Standing Up for Privacy
Click to learn about the fight for online privacy.
Expanding Internet Access
Click to learn about the fight for universal and affordable access.
Building People Power
All year we ramped up the fight for your rights to connect and communicate — galvanizing hundreds of thousands to take action. We:
Inspired activists. Free Press Action Fund members made 7,500 calls to members of Congress. All told, our members took more than 350,000 actions in 2015.
Flew an airplane towing a “Don’t mess with the Internet” banner over Comcast headquarters in Philadelphia and the state capitols of key members of Congress in partnership with our Battle for the Net allies.
Broadcast our message in Times Square via a digital billboard celebrating the open Internet .
Launched our Internet 2016 campaign via the Free Press Action Fund to push presidential candidates from all parties to respect the principles of free speech , access, privacy, choice and openness online.
Free Press earned more than
media hits in 2015.
Coverage of our work appeared in major outlets like the BBC, CNN, The Los Angeles Times , The New York Times , The New Yorker , NPR, PBS, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post , as well as in regional outlets, the trade press, syndicated radio shows and high-profile tech and news sites.
How We Won
We learned important lessons from the Net Neutrality and Comcast wins. Here are our top takeaways:
Collaborative coalitions heighten impact. No single organization or individual can do it all. By working with groups whose missions range from saving the environment to promoting small businesses, we were able to pool our resources and rely on each other’s strengths.
Racial diversity matters. We couldn’t have won either of these fights without the work of both new and longstanding civil rights groups like 18 Million Rising, the Center for Media Justice, ColorOfChange.org, the Media Mobilizing Project, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and Presente.org. These organizations inspired activists and lifted up conversations about how vital the free and open Internet is for communities of color and for advancing civil rights.
Stick to your principles. We were careful to stake out clear positions and stand our ground from the very beginning. We had specific demands for people to organize around, and our coalitions stuck together even when powerful interests said unacceptable compromises were “the best we could get.” None of this is easy, but if you stand strong in the face of fake compromises you can win big.
Boosting Local Journalism
Free Press launched our ambitious News Voices: New Jersey project to change the way local news is made. We’re working in the Garden State to strengthen relationships between newsrooms and community members. We chose New Jersey because it’s one of the most underserved states when it comes to news.
Thank you @freepress I am so motivated & excited to get back in the #acpress #newsroom tomorrow #newsvoices #AtlanticCity
We’re engaged in intensive on-the-ground outreach with journalists, community members and a range of nonprofit organizations.
Hundreds of local residents turned out for community forums we held in New Brunswick and Atlantic City. Reporters listened to residents’ concerns and left with numerous story ideas to pursue .
We’re planning to hold similar events in Asbury Park, Camden, Morristown and Newark in 2016 and are committed to ongoing follow-up in all of these communities.
- Craig Aaron President and CEO
- Candace Clement Internet Campaign Director
- Rachel Courtney Office Manager
- Mary Alice Crim Field Director
- Carrie Cuthbert Development Director
- Elizabeth Dubuque Operations Manager
- Dutch Embree Associate Digital Director
- Dana Floberg C. Edwin Baker Policy Fellow
- Katherine Fuchs Campaign Organizer
- Sandra Fulton Government Relations Manager
- Timothy Karr Senior Director of Strategy
- Amy Kroin Editor
- Gaurav Laroia Policy Counsel
- Kimberly Longey Chief Operating Officer
- Sara Longsmith Foundation Relations Manager
- Lucia Martínez Organizer
- Amy Martyn Administrative Director
- Fiona Morgan Journalism Program Director
- Yesenia Perez-Algarin Associate Development Director
- Misty Perez Truedson Managing Director
- Mike Rispoli Press Freedom Campaign Director
- Joseph Torres Senior Director of External Affairs
- S. Derek Turner Research Director
- Matt Wood Policy Director
Click to learn about Joe's amazing year.
Board of Directors
- Craig Aaron
President Free Press President and CEO
- Michael Copps Former FCC Commissioner
- Olga M. Davidson
Secretary Professor at Wellesley College
- Kim Gandy President of the National Network to End Domestic Violence
- Robert W. McChesney Media scholar at the University of Illinois
- John Nichols Nation Correspondent
- Liza Pike New Media Mentors Project Director
- Ben Scott
Chair Senior Adviser to New America’s Open Technology Institute
- Josh Silver
Treasurer CEO of United Republic
Building the Next Generation of Leaders
Free Press interns and fellows are key members of our team who do hands-on research, policy, communications and campaign work.
“Being able to talk with Free Press activists across the country was easily the highlight of my summer. While working for policy change is rigorous work, getting to speak with so many people who are passionate about changing our media system served as a reminder that there are countless individuals out there fighting the good fight .”
“Whether it was live-tweeting an appropriations committee meeting, responding to member emails, organizing in-district meetings or helping lay the groundwork for an upcoming action, I felt as though I was making meaningful contributions to the work of the organization.”
Joseph Torres Honored
Free Press Senior Director of External Affairs Joseph Torres is a leader in the fight for a more just media system. He’s helped us forge strong partnerships with organizations representing people of color like the Center for Media Justice, ColorOfChange.org, the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) and Presente.org, and he lobbies on Capitol Hill for policies that serve communities of color.
In 2015, he was honored with NHMC’s Impact Award for Outstanding Advocacy and with the Everett C. Parker Award, which recognizes an individual whose work embodies the principles and values of the public interest.
In his acceptance speech for the Parker Award, given by the United Church of Christ’s Office of Communication Inc., Joe connected the fight for racial justice with the fight for a fair media system:
“The struggle for racial justice is very much dependent on access to the media so we can tell our own stories. But this is hard to do when you’re dependent on corporate gatekeepers to tell your story, when people of color own few broadcast stations and cable outlets, when our nation’s media policies are shaped by structural racism.
“This is why the fight over the future of the open Internet, over Net Neutrality , is so central to this struggle for racial justice. It’s provided the digital oxygen that has helped breathe life into the movement that cries out ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘Not One More’ and ‘Say Her Name.’”
Free Press by the Numbers
Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund are grateful for the many generous individuals and charitable foundations that make our work possible. Thank you!
Free Press raised $2,438,063 in donations in 2015, from 355 unique donors, with contributions ranging from $1 to $700,000. The average Free Press donation was $6,868.
The Free Press Action Fund raised $418,092 in donations in 2015, from 4,594 unique donors, with contributions ranging from $3 to $125,000. The average Action Fund donation was $91.
Top Donor List
- Evolve Foundation
- Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund
- Ford Foundation
- Foundation to Promote Open Society
- Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
- Holthues Trust
- Hugh M. Hefner Foundation
- Lederer Foundation
- New Venture Fund (Media Democracy Fund)
- Park Foundation
- Pechet Foundation
- Rockefeller Brothers Fund
- Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
- San Francisco Foundation
- Schwab Charitable Fund
- Sixteen Thirty Fund
- Steve and Paula Child Foundation
- Sy Syms Foundation
- The Democracy Fund
- The Kaphan Foundation
- Tides Foundation
- Voqal Funding Group
- William B. Wiener, Jr. Foundation
- Working Assets/CREDO Customer Donation Program
- Woodcock Foundation
2015 Financial Year in Review*
|Temporarily Restricted Contributions||$||485,000|
|Investment and Other Income||$||18,208|
|Internet Freedom and Press Freedom Programs||$||1,728,894|
|Management and Governance||$||127,191|
|Net Assets at Beginning of Year:||$||1,895,532|
|Net Assets at Year End:||$||2,059,473|
Free Press Action Fund
|Temporarily Restricted Contributions||$||90,000|
|Internet Freedom and Press Freedom Programs||$||416,326|
|Management and Governance||$||31,141|
|Net Assets at Beginning of Year:||$||401,511|
|Net Assets at Year End:||$||299,362|
“To support Free Press is to support democracy itself.”