Reportback from Caracas: March 5

Venezuela is undergoing a revolution, as the Bolivarian government of President Hugo Chavez continues building programs to encourage community-based social, economic and political development strategies. Communications, telecommunications and media are not left out--in fact, democratizing communications is a major priority for the Chavez government and the social movement that backs it.

In January, Reclaim the Media took part in a north American Communications Rights delegation to the World Social Forum in Caracas. Delegates also took the opportunity to visit several community media organizations and government media/telecom regulators in Venezuela.

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Deepmedia blog, and our new website!

Welcome (back) to Deepmedia, Reclaim the Media's projects weblog. This entry marks the re-birth of this blog after a technology-induced hiatus of several months including fall 2005 and winter 2006. Now, Jan 2006, we're relaunching the Deepmedia blog as part of an overall site redesign, soon to be completed, with some exciting new features, including easier navigation and multiple blogs. Old familiar features--our daily media democracy newswire, events calendar, book reviews etc.--aren't going anywhere.

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What happened to the Fairness Doctrine?

Jonathan Lawson will be a guest on public radio WGCU's Gulf Coast Live! on Monday, June 20, 2-3pm EDT; the topic is the broadcasting Fairness Doctrine, which bit the dust during the Reagan administration. Other guests include Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY), who is attempting to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, and is also preparing to introduce a bill protecting and expanding LPFM community radio.

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Reclaim the Media receives Stoney Award from ACM

The Alliance for Community Media honored Reclaim the Media with the George Stoney Award for Humanistic Communications, during the ACM's international conference in Monterey last week.

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Reclaim the Media TV: Focus on Comcast

On Tuesday, July 5, RTM's public access program Reclaim the Media TV will focus on Seattle's current cable franchise negotiations with Comcast. Reclaim the Media is leading a community campaign pushing for stronger consumer protections, more robust community media resources, guarantees for worker rights, democratic Internet use protections, and a more democratic public process around negotiating and enforcing the lucrative cable franchise agreement.

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SCAN-TV launches webcast

Seattle's public access channel SCAN-TV has launched a live, 24-hour webcast. If you have a reasonably fast network connection, you can check out Seattle's coolest TV lineup of public affairs programs, local cultural artifacts, and a fair number of kooks and ranters. Read the weekly schedule here (or read the extended entry below for our suggested list of shows to catch), and Click here to watch live.

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Hey media reformers: help stop CAFTA

UPDATE, July 1: The Senate has passed CAFTA, 54-45. Washington Senators Cantwell and Murray were among 10 Democrats supporting the terrible, odious trade agreement. The House is expected to vote soon after the July 4 recess. Rep. Jay Inslee has heeded constituents' call and will vote NO. That leaves one Washington State Representative on the fence: Cathy McMorris (R, Spokane). Let's keep the pressure on!

You've probably already heard a lot about the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA. If passed by the US Congress in the next few weeks, CAFTA can be expected to lower living standards, undermine democracy, harm environmental protection, exacerbate unsustainable trade deficits, and promote privatization of fundamental public services throughout Central America.

But CAFTA goes further, in ways that should alarm anyone concerned about media diversity and democracy. Unlike previous "free trade" agreements, CAFTA would treat so-called "cultural industries" (including electronic media, publishing, film and music production and news gathering) exactly like steel or bananas, commodities subject to market values instead of cultural and democratic fundamentals. CAFTA would undermine governments' ability to set their own media policies, including requirements for local ownership, diversity safeguards, and supports for local, community media - all these things could be challenged as unfair "restraints of trade."

Imagine a scenario in which a US media conglomerate could sue a Central American government, claiming that its local media regulations were violations of the company's free trade rights. We can't let big business lobbies scuttle the ability of nations to set their own democratic media policies.

If your Representatives and Senators haven't taken a stand against CAFTA, please contact them this week and urge them to oppose it. Here are handy instructions for making a call, along with contact information for Washington State electeds (other states, call the Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121):

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What happened in St. Louis? Notes from the Seattle reportback meeting

On June 2, Reclaim the Media hosted a reportback meeting for Seattle-area folks who attended the recent National Conference on Media Reform in St. Louis, or who just wanted to hear about what had gone on. We had two special guests at the meeting, who just happened to be visiting Seattle: Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free Press, and Jennifer Pozner, executive director of Women in Media and News (WIMN). Jenn took notes (thanks Jenn!) so we can extend this conversation into the months ahead. |[notes by Jennifer Pozner]

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Democracy or Fascism? WA Women Dems focus on media

Reclaim the Media's Jan Strout and Susan Gleason will speak on media and democracy at The Washington Federation of Democratic Women's annual convention, June 17-19 in Shoreline. The theme is Democracy or Fascism? A Critical Choice. Events begin Friday evening with a screening of Rich Media, Poor Democracy followed by discussion.

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Bellingham media activists on the move

This report/invitation from our friends in Bellingham:

Dear friend of community & independent media,

Thank you for attending and participating in the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center's first Bellingham Grassroots & Independent Media Conference! The conference was a great success, with almost 200 individuals in attendance and tremendous enthusiasm and support for local media projects.

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