jonathan's blog

What's next for public access in Seattle?

Last fall, the Seattle City Council voted to reduce funding for public access television. Local community TV nonprofit SCAN-TV will continue to provide programming on cable channels 23/77 on an interim shoestring basis through mid-2011, when the City plans to begin a new, long-term contract with a public access provider.

What will public access TV look like in Seattle after this June? The budget cut means that a new provider will have to make do with dramatically fewer resources than have been available through 2010. How can web video or other Internet-enabled distribution systems augment cable TV? Will a new, trimmed-down public access provider still be able to offer training and studio resources to new video producers?

The City is holding a meeting on Jan. 11 to gather public input on its process for seeking a new public access provider. The community may have just a few opportunities to help shape the future of public access in Seattle--don't miss it! The meeting takes place Tues, Jan. 11, 2011, 6:30-8:30 pm at Garfield Community Center (23rd and Cherry).

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Senate passes community radio bill: Low power FM to be expanded nationwide

With the clock ticking toward the end of this year's Congress, the Senate on Saturday passed a new law which will enable community groups, churches and schools across the country to establish new non-commercial, low-power FM radio stations in their cities and towns.

The Local Community Radio Act, which will allow the FCC to issue possibly thousands of new noncommercial LPFM radio licenses, earned broad, bipartisan support after some ten years of organizing by grassroots media democracy advocates from coast to coast. Backers of the bill included a stupefying range of civil rights groups, religious organizations, musicians, unions and garage-bound radio dreamers around the country.

Washington State elected officials played a pivotal role in passing the bill into law; Senator Maria Cantwell championed the bill in the Senate, and House cosponsors included Washington Rep. Jay Inslee.

"This is a huge win for communities across the northwest and across the country who have been pining for more and better local radio, more support for local music and more diversity on the airwaves," said Jonathan Lawson of Reclaim the Media, a Seattle-based media justice organization which has worked alongside other advocacy groups since 2002 to expand community access to media, including LPFM. "Senator Cantwell deserves our thanks for seeing this through to the end."

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Cantwell's push for Low Power FM heats up in final days of Congress

SATURDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: Bill passes!

FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE: The House of Representatives has just passed a revised version of the LPFM bill--suggesting that a final compromise may have been reached. Stay tuned!

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Grassroots groups to FCC: We need real net neutrality

Reclaim the Media joined 80 other grassroots organizations in calling upon the FCC and Chairman Julius Genachowski to enact genuine open Internet principles,including enforceable net neutrality protections. Read our letter here.

Our strong recommendations include a ban on paid prioritization, so that internet providers cannot arbitrarily slow down certain websites or services, and no second-class status for wireless Internet when it comes to net neutrality.

Chairman Genachowski recently outlined a proposal for Internet policy which unfortunately falls far short in these and other areas, and would completely fail to fulfill President Obama's promise to protect an open Internet for all Americans. The FCC is scheduled to vote on the issue on Dec. 21.

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Community groups urge Seattle City Council to reinstate funding for public access TV

8 Nov 2010

Dear Councilmembers,

We are writing today to ask the City Council to protect communications rights for all Seattle residents by rejecting the Mayor's budget proposal to slash funding for public access television.

As you are aware, the Mayor's proposed budget would cut public access funds from their present annual funding level (in the neighborhood of $600,000 per year) to a sum closer to $100,000. This cut would replace our current cooperative model of participatory, training-focused community television, with a bleak and generic "video jukebox" model.

We believe these cuts would be a huge loss to the local communities that we represent, who benefit directly from local community TV programming, from the access to local video production training classes and facilities, and from the opportunity to develop our own cultural and journalistic media voices. Before completing this year's budget discussions, we ask you to give consideration to three community-supported arguments in favor of restoring funding for public access.

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Mayor McGinn's community media problem

UPDATE: Community groups urge Seattle City Council to restore funding for public access.

Why does Mike McGinn's office seem to have such a problem with community media? After local blogger/journalist Sakara Remmu (pen name Sable Verity) criticized the Mayor in blog posts, Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith took it upon himself to complain to Remmu's employers at the Tabor 100. Tabor fired her rather than harbor a perceived enemy of the Mayor's office. The episode raised troubling questions about abuse of power and the Mayor's office's respect —or lack thereof —for independent media.

That lack of respect was on full display in the Mayor's proposed budget, released last month, which slashes city funding for community access TV provider SCAN. SCAN trains local video producers and airs their programs on local cable channels. Previously funding SCAN in the neighborhood of $600,000 a year, the Mayor's current proposal would reduce that annual amount to just $100,000—a cut which would essentially strangle the nonprofit out of existence, and leave the city without a local training facility dedicated to helping local producers develop programming for community audiences.

Listen to a report on SCAN from KBCS 91.3FM.

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Broadband and accessibility

At the Media, Meet Justice! meeting on Oct. 20, one discussion group focused on broadband and communications accessibility issues.

Here are the unedited notes from that discussion:

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making media tools accessible to people with disabilities, older folks, folks who don't usually have easy access.

Disability Rights: include issues of physical barriers to participating in media

the work that we do really could be totally accessible to people with physical disabilities (ReelGrrls, KBCS, SCAN, Hollow Earth).

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Supporting community media

At the Media, Meet Justice! community meeting on Oct. 20, one discussion group focused on sustaining community media.

While all community media organizations are in need of financial need, discussion tonight focused on the immediate challenges of maintaining local funding for public access channel SCAN, currently slated for major cuts under the Mayor's proposed budget.

The City Council will make a final decision on the budget on Nov. 22.

Groups represented in the discussion: KBCS, SCAN, Hollow Earth Radio, Reclaim the Media, Youth Media Institute, and independent bloggers/artists.

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Weds, Oct 20: Media, Meet Justice!

Join RTM and the Northwest Media Action Grassroots Network at Hidmo (20th and Jackson, Seattle) on Oct. 20 for an evening of media justice strategizing and discussion: Media? Meet Justice.

Local activists will share lessons learned this summer at the Allied Media Conference and the US Social Forum, including reflecting on intersections between media justice and immigrant rights, food justice, racism and economic oppression, among other issues. Then we'll put on our thinking caps for a strategic conversation about how community media, media justice and social justice groups can work together in the Northwest to strengthen the movement for social change.

Media. meet Justice! A cross-movement media justice strategy discussion Weds, Oct. 20, 6:30-8:30pm, Hidmo (20th and Jackson, Seattle)

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Re-tooling RTM and expanding media justice in the Northwest

Dear RTM allies and supporters: On the heels of some important organizing successes and economic challenges, Reclaim the Media is restructuring a bit in order to make sure we can continue to lead the Northwest in the continuing struggle for fair media and an open Internet. We hope that we can count on your support, and we ask you to consider becoming a sustaining member of RTM today.

This year so far, Reclaim the Media members and community partners came out strong for digital justice and media democracy, making strong impacts in Seattle and nationwide. Reflecting on our momentum as we head into the fall, it's time for us to re-imagine what's now possible in the struggle for more responsible media; to refocus on next steps towards universal, affordable broadband; and to recommit ourselves to the struggle for a real communications democracy.

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