Showrunners urge FCC's Tom Wheeler to keep Internet 'free and open'

Showrunners urge FCC's Tom Wheeler to keep Internet 'free and open'
Jill Soloway created "Transparent," a popular new series picked up by Amazon. Soloway has joined other showrunners in opposing new rules for the Internet. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Leading television writers and producers urged Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler to "keep the Internet free and open."

In a letter sent to Wheeler Tuesday, more than 240 showrunners and creators called on Wheeler to oppose any effort to impose restrictions on Internet free speech.

"The open Internet is the greatest technological catalyst to participatory democracy and free speech since the printing press," the letter states. "That's why totalitarian states around the world try to control it."

The letter comes as the head of the FCC is set to propose so-called net neutrality rules for the Internet. Critics fear the proposed rules would set up a two-tiered Internet service for consumers, resulting in preferential treatment for big companies and giving too much power to the nation's broadband providers.

This month, Wheeler floated a proposal that would allow broadband operators such as Verizon to charge content providers for faster delivery to consumers.

"An open Internet has expanded the content marketplace, giving writers new ways to reach the public," said Jill Soloway, who signed the letter and whose series "Transparent" was picked up by Amazon this year. "Now is the time to protect the Internet to ensure its enormous potential is accessible to as many people as possible."

The Writers Guild of America, West recently submitted its comments to the FCC.

“The media business is experiencing new competition for the first time in decades, due entirely to an open Internet,” said Writers Guild of America, West President and showrunner Chris Keyser. “Writers have new outlets such as Netflix and Amazon to sell to, and consumers have new video options to choose from. But this progress is threatened if the FCC adopts weak Net Neutrality rules that allow for paid prioritization and other discriminatory behavior.”