Corporate Power/Consolidation

Media Democracy Organizing in Seattle

Summary:

This spring, the FCC is expected to move boldly ahead towards deregulation of the federal rules which protect local accountability, content diversity and public access in our national media - despite having received thousands of comments opposed to weakening the rules. However, public understanding of the issues is increasing, and along with it, public indignation -- both at the FCC's plans and at the media's failure to report on the important policy debate. Now that the Feb. 3 deadline for filing public comments has passed, media activist attention remains focused on public education - and on pressing for additional Congressional attention to issues of media policy.

In Seattle, a number of media democracy projects are either launching or gaining momentum. Two projects have recently begun at the University of Washington. The Seattle Alliance for Media Education, a program of the Teen Futures Media Network, has begun holding media literacy workshops. The Seattle Political Information Network (SPIN) is a collaboration launched by the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement. At SPIN's first meeting in December, community organizers, journalists and media activists brainstormed about "creating an interactive information and publicity system for community activists and issue advocacy networks." In January, Reclaim the Media launched a biweekly Media Democracy Coffee Club to discuss community media and media policy activism in Seattle. The next coffee club meeting will take place Wednesday, March. 12th, noon-2pm at 1415 2nd Ave. (5th floor meeting room).

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Act Now to Save Media Diversity

Summary:

The FCC is about to make decisions about the media in this country which could drastically alter the quality and breadth of the news and other media provided to Americans every day. This September, the government agency charged with protecting the public's ability to access diverse information and perspectives via broadcasting and the Internet announced a mammoth review of the rules governing media ownership. The FCCs announcement of a "reexamination" is a euphemistic indication that the Commission's leadership intends to do away with many of those rules, leaving media policy decisions to be shaped by "market forces," that is to say, the financial bottom lines of a handful of multinational corporations.

[ FCC Media Ownership Working Group Studies ]
[statement from the Center for Digital Democracy ]
[ FAIR on Corporate Ownership ]

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What Can We Do?

Summary:

As the FCC announced their plans to review the ownership rules, a diverse group of activists, journalists and broadcasters met at the Reclaim the Media conference in Seattle, and launched a nationwide Media Diversity campaign to protect those rules from being erased in a reckless fervor. This new collective effort, drawing harnessing resources from prominent media activist organizations from coast to coast, will accelerate the formation of a national grassroots action network for media policy reform. We must all work together to preserve media ownership safeguards which ensure public access to diverse information and opinions through the media.

Talking Back to the Policymakers
The FCC's recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) sets into motion a chain of events which includes a public comment period lasting about two months. During this period, community groups and citizens across the country need to file comments with the FCC, with specific information on how centralized or nonlocal ownership has affected local media. Many small market stations have lost local news departments, traffic or weather reportage. Is your local radio station providing local election coverage? Interviewing the candidates? What community voices are missing? The FCC needs to hear our answers to such questions. Ultimately, the FCC answers to Congress - so write your Senators and Representatives as well?tell them to protect media diversity.

Public Comment
Let the FCC know that you care about media diversity and that your free speech is more important than the corporate giants' free market. Submit your comments to the FCC here.

[ Questions to consider when submitting a comment to the FCC ]
[ Media Alliance ]
[ Media Tank ]

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Rocky Mountain Media Democracy Tour

Summary:

Fresh from the successes of the Reclaim the Media community media convergence in Seattle this September, the journalist/activists of Reclaim the Media are hitting the road this month with a Media Democracy educational tour of the Rocky Mountain states.

Passing through Washington, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, RTM educators are building networks with local media activists throughout the mountain time zone for citizen action on current trends in national media policy, how out-of-control consolidation in media ownership affects what we see, read and hear, and how citizens can influence the way important policy decisions are made.

Our travels end at the Action Coalition for Media Education Conference in Albuquerque, Oct 18-20.

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Clear Channel

Summary:

The single largest owner of radio stations, Clear Channel, not only owns over 1200 radio licenses in the United States, but also a third of the billboards and the second largest concert promotions business. They relentlessly pursue many other related media properties which they combine into monopolies in order to dominate their markets. Clear Channel's business model focuses on cutting costs by eliminating local programming and using satellite feeds to replace local announcers, busting its unions, and undercutting its competition through massive advertising deals. "By mechanizing and industrializing radio, they are taking all of the personality out of it. Pretty soon we will be listening to a bunch of glib sexy robots who have been market researched to appeal to us, even though they have nothing real to say," says Pete Tridish of the Prometheus Radio Project. Keep an eye on this site as Prometheus, Media Alliance, Reclaim the Media and other groups launch a national campaign against this stupid, greedy monster.

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Reclaim the Media: a Community Media Convergence- Sept 10-15

Summary:

Join us in Seattle this September as we confront the National Association of Broadcasters and their ongoing quest for greater consolidation of corporations' power over the public airwaves, and as we continue to build a powerful media democracy movement. Keynote speaker Amy Goodman (host of Democracy Now!) will speak on Indepedent Media in a Time of War.

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People Have Power! Convergence Participants Line Up

Summary:

Watch this space carefully as conference plans will be developing rapidly! Our list of featured participants currently includes Jen Angel (Clamor), David Barsamian (Alternative Radio), Lark Corbeil (Washington News Service), Deepa Ferndandes (Free Speech Radio News), Mark Hosler (Negativland), David Korten (Positive Futures Network), Art McGee (TAO Communications), Tram Nguyen (ColorLines), Ron Sakolsky (Seizing the Airwaves) and Thenmozhi Soundararajan (Third World Majority), as well as colleagues from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, the Independent Media Center, Media Alliance, Media Island, NLG Center for Democratic Communications, Prometheus Radio Project, Vancouver Co-op Radio and many other broadcasting, print media and media watchdog organizations.

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NAB: The WTO of broadcasting

Summary:

One of the most powerful lobbies in the country, the National Association of Broadcasters represents the owners and management of the corporate media; the organization works tirelessly to keep control of the airwaves away from the public and firmly in the hands of big business. The NAB has fiercely opposed Low-power FM licensing for community radio stations, fought to get rid of public service requirements for broadcasters, and pressured Congress against enacting campaign finance reform measures which would have granted free airtime to rich and poor candidates alike.

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Media Politics: The Urge to Merge and Converge

by Jonathan Lawson

Few observers of 2000's protracted walkout by Seattle Times and Post-Intelligencer workers could have imagined an issue that would bring together the union representing the papers' employees and Frank Blethen, owner of the Times, as comrades in struggle.

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Media Mergers and Antitrust: Choice for Consumers

More agency debate about antitrust enforcement better serves democracy for everyone.

By Cheryl A. Leanza and Harold J. Feld (Media Access Project)

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