John Oliver’s new show is off and running, and to start, he has decided to make a change in an issue close to his heart.
Jon Stewart and his Daily Show correspondents, both past and present (and probably future), have shown they can affect change, and John Oliver appears to be the latest. Oliver, who has filled Stewart’s shoes in the past, now has his own show on HBO, Last Week Tonight, and helped shut down a government agency website this week after making a passionate plea.
Oliver did a segment about net neutrality, a term many have heard of, but not as many understand. The idea of net neutrality, which the Federal Communications Commission is currently considering, involves whether the internet should be on a “level playing field.” Meaning that, depending on how the FCC rules, certain companies could soon have to pay to get content to you more quickly. The FCC is currently considering a proposal that wouldn’t allow internet companies to slow down content to their customers, but could allow a “fast lane” for internet companies to charge more for access to faster internet.
For example, Netflix would have to pay a premium to get their service to their customers quickly. It would in theory stop start-ups who can’t afford to pay that fee from launching their competition to businesses like Netflix.
Oliver not only spoke about the issue, but ranted about it for a 13 full minutes, pleading to his audience, “For once in your lives, focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction. Seize your moment, my lovely trolls!”
The host’s plea came at the right time — the FCC just opened its first comment period on net neutrality. And comment they did. The agency said they have received more than 45,000 comments on the issue since May 15. They also received more than 300,000 emails. The FCC sent out a tweet on Monday, June 3, saying their servers had gone down, and it seems likely it’s because of Oliver’s segment.
We’ve been experiencing technical difficulties with our comment system due to heavy traffic. We’re working to resolve these issues quickly.
— The FCC (@FCC) June 2, 2014
“What’s being proposed is so egregious that activists and corporations have been forced onto the same side,” Oliver explained. “And you might wonder, if everyone is against this, how is it even possibly happening? The guy who used to run with the cable industry’s lobbying arm is now tasked with the agency tasked with regulating it. That is the equivalent of needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo.”
The initial commenting period will continue through June 27.