State legislation part 2: VOIP, PEG and student journalism

A few more bills we're watching at the Washington State Legislature:

SB 5628/HB 1585 would prohibit state regulation of Voice over IP (VOIP) service. This is, of course, backed by the telecom companies who argue that, since the federal government is regulating VOIP, it would be too cumbersome for states to regulate it as well. And in 2007, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals had already ruled that states do not have regulatory authority over VOIP (agreeing with the FCC, which had asserted a unique right to regulate the service).

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WA State Legislature considers a bunch of broadband bills

The State Legislature is considering a klatch of bills dealing with broadband Internet – more specifically, with strategies for increasing deployment and adoption in rural and underserved areas across the state. First up are several bills introduced by Rep. Zack Hudgins…

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One Economy (to rule them all?)

Last week I sat in on the "Seattle Digital Inclusion Summit," a day-long meeting convened by the national nonprofit organization One Economy, along with officials from Seattle's Community Technology program.

I didn't know much about One Economy – I was vaguely aware of their involvement in a Seattle youth program called Puget Sound Off – so I was interested to find out more by attending part of the event. Their presentation and materials were very slick – enough so that they seemed more "localized" than truly local. Few local groups that work on community media/tech empowerment had heard of them previously, for example, including Reel Grrls, whose work was being showcased at the summit – so I was curious.

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RTM launches DTV Assistance Centers

Today, Reclaim the Media is launching our Digital TV Assistance Center hotline (206.508.1277), for folks in the Seattle area who have questions about the DTV transition, the government's coupon program, where to get a converter box, how to set it up, and how to tune in stations afterwards. In fact, our phone volunteers will do their best to answer any DTV-related questions you can throw at them!

We're also hosting DTV trainings around town, and regular drop-in assistance centers at several community centers in central and south Seattle - targeting neighborhoods with concentrations of low-income, elderly and immigrant households. (For locations and hours, visit our DTV subsite,

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Make your own DTV Antenna

Over-the-air TV viewers across the country should now be getting ready for the Feb. 17 switch to Digital TV. By now most of us are aware of the steps we need to take: Order a coupon for $40 off a DTV converter box; (2) use the coupon to buy a box, and (3) hook it up.

Some of us may need a new UHF/VHF antenna to pick up the digital TV signals. When you buy your DTV box, retailers will try to sell you an expensive antenna as well (the government coupons don't cover antennas). Here's a cheaper option: the folks at Make Magazine provide instructions on how to build your own antenna out of coat hangers and scrap wood.

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Election 08: Gender, race and the media

Across the nation, voters are already casting their ballots in what may be the most significant election in decades. Race and gender have been front and center in the historic presidential campaigns. As the American political world is set for a major transformation, has our media been tuned in, or tuned out?

Join Reclaim the Media and partner organizations on Thursday evening, Nov 6 at Antioch University (download flyer) for a post-election celebration of democracy - and a critical look at how US media dealt with the challenges of campaign coverage 2008.

Panelists include Jennifer Pozner (Women in Media and News), Naomi Ishisaka (One America), Lorena González (Latino PAC), B.J. Bullert (Antioch Center for Creative Change) and Cory Fisher-Hoffman (Prometheus Radio Project), moderated by Jan Strout (Reclaim the Media).

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NW and Grassroots represent at the Minneapolis media reform conference

Reclaim the Media is headed to Minneapolis this coming week for the fourth National Conference on Media Reform, and so are a bunch of other NW community media movers and shakers. Throughout the weekend, RTM will be working closely with our friends in the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net), our nationwide coalition of regional, grassroots groups working together for media justice. We'll be sharing table space with MAG-Net, so come and see us! We'll be giving away RTM and MAG-Net stuff (including our cool media justice fans), and selling RTM t-shirts, DVDs and Media Heroes trading cards. Read on for Northwest and MAG-Net-related schedule details!

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Good Luck to Tony Riddle!

Tony Riddle, until recently Executive Director of the national Alliance for Community Media, has left that position and will be joining the staff of Pacifica station WBAI-FM in New York as Executive Director. RTM considers Tony an especially valued colleague (along with others who have recently changed jobs within the media democracy movement, including former Media Alliance ED Jeff Perlstein and former Future of Music Coalition ED Jenny Toomey).

During his work at the ACM, Tony did a great job of highlighting the media policy issues affecting public access, educational and government cable channels, and making sure that the media democracy movement understood how sustaining grassroots community media is a crucial issue alongside media ownership, net neutrality, etc. RTM hopes that new ACM leadership will pursue these connections as Tony did.

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State House committee says no to media consolidation

Media/telecom odds and ends in the Washington Legislature

The Washington State Legislature will consider a handful of bills dealing with media and telecommunications issues during this year's short legislative session. Live issues include protecting freedom of speech for student journalists, a proposed initiative to expand high-speed broadband deployment statewide, and a resolution asking Congress to overrule the FCC's recent deregulation of media cross-ownership rules. Read on for details on specific bills!

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