State video bill dies in committee, but telcos look ahead

The Washington legislative clock has run out on SB6003, the Qwest-backed video franchise bill which would have deepened the digital divide and limited funding streams for community TV. The bill is dead for this session, thanks in part to quick opposition by Washington citizen and consumer groups.

However, the FCC's recent video franchise ruling will reshape the franchising landscape to favor telecom companies' interests - if it withstands likely court challenges. And in Washington State, another bill backed by the telecom industry (SB 5592), has made it out of the Senate Telecommunications Committee and will have another chance for a hearing in the Senate Rules Committee. The new bill would establish a bipartisan task force to review the state's entire telecommunications policy framework, including statewide video franchising. But the task force's proposed membership would stack the deck dramatically in favor of corporate perspectives on what's right for Washington, sidelining consumer and local government voices.

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The Twomp: Seattle hip-hop is on fire

Reclaim the Media co-director Julie Chang Schulman has helped launch a new Seattle hip-hop web radio program, The Twomp - hosted by Davey D's Breakdown FM. Read what Dave has to day about it and our local scene, and listen to a recent episode recorded for the recent 206 Zulu showcase

[by Davey D, Breakdown FM]

Yo, I just got back from the 206 Zulu Anniversary/ Sundiata Festival in Seattle- all I can say that SHIT WAS ON FULL FIRE. It was abreath of fresh air.. I'm glad I skipped the drama and ignorance in Vegas at the Allstar weekend...

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Expand publicly-owned broadband in Washington State

Cable customers in Tacoma pay less than their neighbors in Seattle. Why? Because Tacoma has its own municipally-owned cable/broadband/telephone utility which competes with private providers and drives down prices. A new bill before the Washington State Senate would expand the opportunity for this kind of competition, by allowing public utility districts to operate their own telecommmunications and broadband services.

Telecom companies across the country are trying to convince state legislatures to ban municipal broadband utilities because they don't like the competition. In Washington State, however, we have a chance to do the opposite, and actually expand the ability of local governments to provide crucial public services for the information age.

Click here to send a message to the Washington State Senate supporting this sensible legislation!

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36th District Dems pass resolution opposing video franchise bill

Democrats in Washington's 36th Legislative District didn't waste any time responding to Qwest's video franchise bill (SB6003):


Whereas, the 36th District Democrats consider media and technology policy to be ‘the second issue’ in all our major policy battles;

Whereas, the 36th District Democrats have consistently taken a stand for strong public benefits in all cable television franchise agreements;

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New video bill would benefit Qwest, but hurt Washington State citizens and consumers

UPDATE: The legislative clock has run out on SB6003, the Qwest-backed video franchise bill which would have deepened the digital divide and limited funding streams for comunity TV. The bill is dead for this session, thanks in part to quick opposition by citizen and consumer groups.

Reclaim the Media headed down to Olympia to speak against a very bad new telecommunications bill, SB6003, which would open the door for Qwest and other telecom companies to provide cable-type video services to customers statewide - but on the company's terms. Their terms don't include fair support for PEG (public access, government and educational) TV programming, and they would seriously erode local customer accountability. Last but certainly not least, this corporate-sponsored bill would allow Qwest and other companies the right to "cherry-pick" the neighborhoods they want to provide the best services to, while skipping over less affluent or rural neighborhoods.

Speaking in favor of the bill at its first public hearing before the Senate Water, Energy and Telecommunications committee this week were representatives from Qwest and telecommunications industry lobbyists. Reclaim the Media codirector Karen Toering and policy advisor Michael Weisman spoke against the bill, along with a range of community leaders, public access TV advocates, local government representatives, and cable industry mouthpieces.

Info and full text of the bill here (pdf)
Reclaim the Media analysis here (pdf)

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The truth has become a casualty of the campaign to support the war

Notes from the National Media Reform Conference Panel: The Press at War & the War on the Press

by Sarah Kuck

As a concerned group of media reform activists, those attending the National Conference for Media Reform were keenly aware of the problem with the U.S. coverage of the war: it’s been largely replaced with impressive audio/visual hype, discussions about facts have been replaced with discussions of ideology, and reliable sources have been whittled down to politicians and military personnel involved in the war. Embedded reporters struggle with remaining objective because those they report on safeguard their lives, while unembedded reporters continually risk their lives to do so. Those who attended the NCMR panel, The Press at War & the War on the Press came to have their questions answered about what the impact of this “coverage” has been, and especially to have Helen Thomas be one of those answering.

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There is no media justice without women: models for feminist media action

A National Conference for Media Reform panel on Saturday, January 3rd

by Sarah Kuck

Women, women, women; we were chatting, laughing, and exchanging stories and business cards in a conference room at the 2007 National Conference for Media Reform. We all gathered to listen to the panel titled “There Is No Media Justice Without Women: Models for Feminist Action.” I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I should have known that a panel run by and about women would turn into an inclusionary discussion on how we are all making change in our communities to increase women’s voices in the media.

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Women's media networking at the NCMR

by Sarah Kuck

The combination of feminist camaraderie, southern hospitality and general excitement to see what women would bring to the National Conference for Media Reform electrified the air at the Women’s Media Networking Breakfast.

Feminists of all ages, genders and races gathered in downtown Memphis bright and early to kick off a weekend dedicated to hope for a better, more just media, and therefore society. I knew the breakfast would be spectacular when I saw this group of enthusiastic and diverse people ebbing and flowing from room to room, rubbing elbows, gathering feminist media sources and devouring delicious breakfast treats; I was personally excited to see someone brought the soy milk.

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At the National Conference for Media Reform

by Sarah Kuck

One week ago I was up to my ears in grassroots media reform panels, speakers, booths, pamphlets and flyers. Besides the onslaught of mind-opening information the attendees received daily, the sights, sounds, smells and rich history of Memphis helped to solidify the feeling of the people’s movement.

Whether it was placed strategically or spontaneously the weekend before Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the city in which he lost his life, the Conference’s timing and location helped to form a bridge between the energy and enthusiasm of the 1960s civil rights movement to today’s human rights movement. With 3,000+ attendees and 2,000+ watching via YouTube and the like, this weekend’s National Conference for Media Reform was a smorgasbord for the senses; my brain was swimming in the seemingly collective thought that change IS possible.

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Washington Legislature takes another crack at journalist shield law

The Washington State Legislature tried last year to enact a journalists' shield law, protecting journalists from being forced to present court testimony on unnamed sources or any information gathered during the course of their work as reporters. The bill became mired in process and never came to a vote. Thankfully, the bill has reappeared in this year's session.

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