Seattle City Council passes Media Bill of Rights resolution

[Reclaim the Media statement]

The Seattle City Council passed a resoulution calling upon U.S. policymakers to support the Media Bill of Rights, ensuring that present and future generations are able to exercise their constitutional rights to free speech. The council joins a broad coalition of consumer, public interest, media reform, organized labor and other groups representing millions of Americans in supporting the principles of access to media in an open marketplace of ideas, use of the public airwaves to serve the public interest and media that reflect and respond to local communities.

The resolution, sponsored by council members Jean Godden and Nick Licata, builds upon earlier policy espoused in a previous resolution by the council in support of diversity in media ownership. In that resolution, the council urged the Federal Communications Commission to resist attempts to repeal the cross-ownership ban and further urge the Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to protect content diversity and press freedom. Godden, who has a background as a journalist spoke passionately about how the public, through the media, was led to believe that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It is very important to have dissident voices as well as those coming from the government or corporate concerns, Godden said. Freedom of the press shouldn t always be a matter of being able to own a radio station or a newspaper, it ought to be an opportunity for us to speak out.

This resolution comes just as Seattle residents are preparing for a November 30th public hearing on media ownership with FCC commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein. The commissioners will hear testimony on the FCC s current notice of rulemaking that could further relax media ownership caps. Council chair Nick Licata notes, I would hope that other cities will pass similar resolutions that will get the attention of our representatives in congress who have certainly watered down the public's protections and access to these major media outlets. Seattle is in good company. Cities across the country are passing their own resolutions supporting the Media Bill of Rights.

Read and sign on to the Bill of Media Rights here.


A RESOLUTION supporting a Bill of Media Rights.

WHEREAS, a free and vibrant media, comprised of diverse voices and opinions, is the lifeblood of American democracy and the engine of growth for its culture and economy; and

WHEREAS, in recent years, unprecedented corporate consolidation in the U.S. has dramatically reduced the number of voices represented in the mass media; and

WHEREAS, most of America’s news and entertainment content is commercially produced, distributed, and controlled by a small number of large media conglomerates in whose interest it is to minimize competition and maximize corporate profits at the expense of competition meant to better serve the public interest; and

WHEREAS, the U. S. Supreme Court has ruled that the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protects the public’s right regarding the media to “an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will prevail” and calls for “suitable access to social, political, esthetic, moral, and other ideas and experiences” and that “it is the right of viewers and listeners, not the right of broadcasters, which is paramount”; and

WHEREAS, when civic policies place media conglomerates' commercial interests over the public’s Constitutional rights, it places America’s democracy, culture, and economy at risk; and

WHEREAS, public policymakers have a duty to ensure that present and future generations are free to express themselves and access the free expression of others in the mass media using the latest technologies;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SEATTLE:

Section 1. The Seattle City Council joins the broad coalition of consumer, public interest, media reform, organized labor, and other groups representing millions of Americans in supporting the Media Bill of Rights, as summarized in Section 2, below, and will strive to reflect such principle in its deliberations.

Section 2. The American public has the right to access media in an uninhibited marketplace of ideas.

Section 3. The American public has the right to use the public airways in order to best serve the public interest.

Section 4. The American public has the right to media that reflects and responds to local interests.

Adopted by the City Council the 28th day of November, 2006.

article originally published at .

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