HBO's John Oliver Breaks FCC Website With Net Neutrality Plea
June 3, 2014

HBO’s John Oliver Breaks FCC Website With Net Neutrality Plea

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

Instead of just "reporting" – or perhaps "mocking" – the news on the HBO series Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, the comedian made headlines on Tuesday for his rant about the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) 120-day public comment period over proposed net neutrality regulations.

Apparently the viewers listened and he reportedly brought down the FCC's comments site!

It may be hard to believe that what was just a comedic routine on a late night mock news program on a premium cable channel could have such results, but apparently it did.

In the closing segment for Sunday evening's show the British comic spent 13 minutes not only ripping the FCC's proposal apart – calling out the fact that the biggest supporters are companies such as Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Verizon and AT&T – but he capped the rant by calling on those who leave Internet comments to take action.

"I would like to address the Internet commenters out there directly," Oliver said as reported by Ars Technica. "Good evening, monsters. This may be the moment you've spent your whole lives training for. You have been out there ferociously commenting on dance videos of adorable 3-year-olds, saying things like, 'every child could dance like this little loser after one week of practice."

"This is the moment you were made for, commenters. Like Ralph Macchio, you've been honing your skills, waxing cars, and painting fences," Oliver added. "Well guess what, now it's time to do some fucking karate... We need you to get out there and for once in your lives focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction. Seize your moment, my lovely trolls, turn on caps lock, and fly my pretties! Fly! Fly! Fly!"

People listened and responded; lots of people.

Oliver's program actually had only about 1 million viewers in its first airing according to TV by the Numbers – which reported the TV ratings from Nielsen. Even with repeats that number only jumped to 1.2 million. That number was far below the 7.2 million that tuned in earlier in the evening to watch Game of Thrones, but Oliver's comments quickly went viral.

The clip was shared widely on social media, Cnet reported, including Twitter; while the YouTube clip had a view count in excess of 700,000 views.

The so-called "monsters" and "trolls" went on the offensive. The responses were great enough that the FCC's comment system crashed less than 24 hours after the airing of the program.

On Monday the FCC on its Twitter page said, "We’ve been experiencing technical difficulties with our comment system due to heavy traffic. We’re working to resolve these issues quickly."

While the FCC website was back up on Tuesday morning, it was reported that the net neutrality proceeding had received some 47,000 hits in the past 30 days.

FCC CIO David Bray told Ars Technica that the system is more than a decade old and that the government agency has been attempting to modernize the infrastructure. Bray and an FCC spokesperson reportedly told Ars Technica that the comments site was "down for a couple of hours (Monday) due to high volumes of traffic."

It isn't entirely clear if Oliver was fully responsible for that volume either. PC Mag reported that the Electronic Frontier Foundation had already provided a form called Dear FCC to express concern about a "pay-to-play Internet."