Arts/Activism

Framing Tel Aviv

Mark Levine, Al Jazeera

t is not surprising that the organisers of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) chose to turn a spotlight on Tel Aviv this year, the city's centennial.

The city has featured prominently in many important Israeli films, and is home to what has become the archetypical Israeli identity: modern, hip, liberal and even progressive.

But a great film festival, like great art more broadly, is not supposed to uncritically mirror uncritical depictions of subjects and spaces.

Rather, it is supposed to sponsor films that interrogate the most basic perceptions of reality, particularly when that reality is grounded in intense and long-term conflicts, in which various narratives of what is the 'true' history and present circumstances are in contrast.

By turning a spotlight on Tel Aviv, the festival intervened in an ongoing and deeply divisive conflict. Organisers had a responsibility to ensure that their intervention would encourage soul-searching and the search for a more accurate representation of the city's, and country's, past and present.

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Proposed honor for Beck stirs up storm in Mt Vernon

William Yardley, New York Times

When he is not calling the president a racist or finding some other way to infuriate plenty of Americans, Glenn Beck, the provocative and popular conservative broadcaster, occasionally drifts into reverie.

“I know it’s easy to romanticize the past, especially if you grew up in a small town like I did,” Mr. Beck told listeners of his radio program one day in March 2007. “But it seems to me that my hometown of Mount Vernon was full of leaders.”

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Earth Liberation Front claims responsibility for broadcast tower destruction

Earth Liberation Front Press Office

Two radio station towers were torn down early Friday by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) in the Lord's Hills valley in Snohomish County, WA. The towers, owned by station KRKO, have been a source of controversy for years. A sign left at the scene claimed responsibility by the ELF.

"Due to the health and environmental risks associated with radio waves emitted from the towers, we applaud this act by the ELF," stated Jason Crawford, a spokesperson for the North American Earth Liberation Front Press Office. "When all legal channels of opposition have been exhausted, concerned citizens have to take action into their own hands to protect life and the planet."

For the past eight years, opponents have waged a legal battle against the towers, arguing that AM radio waves cause adverse health affects including a higher rate of cancer, harm to wildlife, and that the signals have been interfering with home phone and intercom lines.

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KRKO towers toppled by vandals in Snohomish

Rob Piercy, KING/KOMO

The group Earth Liberation Front is claiming responsibility for toppling two radio station towers in Snohomish County early Friday morning. The FBI is taking over the investigation.

The towers, owned by station KRKO and known as North Sound 1380, are located on Short School Road and 129th St. SE in the Lord's Hill Valley.

"What they used was a machine called an excavator, it has a front arm off the front end of the machine. They stole it out of the yard," Andy Skotdal, president and general manager of KRKO. "They went and attached it to the tower and pushed one of them over and pulled the other one down."

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Boycotting Beck's sponsors is not enough

George Curry, Seattle Medium

Some of the nation’s blue chip companies – many that rely on African-American consumers for a significant portion of their profits – advertised on right-winger Glenn Beck’s incendiary program on Fox TV. They include: Procter & Gamble, Kraft Food, ConAgra (maker of Healthy Choice foods), Clorox, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, Honda, General Electric, Travelocity, State Farm Insurance, Geico, Farmer’s Insurance, Pfizer, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Office Depot, RadioShack, Sprint, CVS, Red Lobster, Nestle, Progressive Insurance and pharmaceutical companies Roche and Sanofi-Aventis (maker of Plavix).

Beck touched off a firestorm when he labeled President Obama “a racist” who has “deep-seated hatred for White people.” ColorOfChange.org, an Internet-oriented Black grass roots advocacy group, quickly organized a petition drive urging advertisers to stop sponsoring his show.

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Shahrukh Khan, star of forthcoming film on racial profiling, gets racially profiled at US airport

Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Reuters

Indian Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan said he felt angry and humiliated after he was detained and questioned at a U.S. airport, sparking an uproar in India among his fans.

Khan, 43, one of India's best-known actors, was en route to Chicago for a parade to mark the Indian independence day on Saturday when he was pulled aside at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey on Friday, he said.

"I was really hassled perhaps because of my name being Khan. These guys just wouldn't let me through," he said in a text message to reporters in India.

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SoundExchange "settlement" offers lower royalty option for micro-webcasters

David Oxenford, Broadcast Law Blog

[RTM note: this article was originally published on 28 March 2009. We repost it here in response to questions about the recent settlement between SoundExchange and "pure-play" webcasters, which establishes a $25,000 minimum payment for webcasters. The microcaster settlement described below provides lower rates for very small web stations - $600 per year for the smallest stations with no recordkeeping, or a $2000 a year minimum for stations with a larger listenership but revenues less than $50,000.]

With all the recent discussion of the NAB-SoundExchange settlement and the recent Court of Appeals argument on Copyright Royalty Board decision on Internet Radio royalties, we have not summarized the "settlement" that SoundExchange agreed to with a few very small webcasters. That agreement would essentially extend through 2015 the terms that SoundExchange unilaterally offered to small webcasters in 2007, and make these terms a "statutory" rate that would be binding on all copyright holders.

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Biden announces details of broadband grants, Genachowski outlines FCC plans

Karl Bode, DSL Resports

Uncle Sam today announced the rules governing the first of three rounds in the government's $7.2 billion broadband economic stimulus package, all 121 pages of which are now available if you're a non-profit or municipal entity planning on applying, or if you just like wordy government documents. The NTIA will dole out $4.5 billion in government funds to help deliver broadband (feebly defined as 768kbps downstream and 200kbps upstream) into under or unserved areas. Another $2.5 billion will be handed out by the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) grant program, which for some time has been tasked with giving loans to markets where 75% of the area is rural without sufficient broadband access.

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Music industry group responds to performance-royalty protest with overblown threat

Eric Ruth, Wilmington News Journal

RTM note: RTM supports the idea of a broadcast performance royalty. With appropriate fee caps for noncommercial broadcasters, it will provide an important revenue stream for performers, and bring US policy in line with international standards. The below-described response from the industry group MusicFirst, however, is indicative of the reason why so many music fans view the entire music industry with mistrust or contempt.

As radio stations go, Mount Pleasant High School's WMPH (Wilmington, Delaware) is full of earnest endeavor, but hardly noticed on a radio dial crowded by its more powerful neighbors.

Not anymore.

This 100-watt flicker of a station has attracted the wrath of the global recording industry for having the temerity to boycott certain performers in response to legislation that would allow record companies to begin charging stations a royalty fee.

Never mind that the monthlong boycott was two years ago, and that on good days WMPH's signal peters out just past Newark. Last week, a recording industry group called the MusicFirst Coalition asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate and "take action against radio stations for abusing their license to use the airwaves."

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Black radio owners worried about performance royalty bill

Chronic Magazine

As we listen to our favorite tunes on the way home, a storm is brewing around the future of black radio. Here’s the skinny. ….

The hot-button issue of whether radio should pay performance royalties to artists for playing their music has split Michigan Democrat John Conyers from some of his long-time allies in the civil rights movement. Following in the footsteps of satellite, cable and Internet music services, the Performance Rights Act would result in AM and FM radio stations paying performers to play their songs.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey