Feature

Fixing Radio Forum, Feb. 28

Summary:

Feb 28 3pm-7pm, Experience Music Project

On Feb 28, broadcasting professionals, listeners, recording artists, media democracy activists and public officials will come together to advance the debate around radio ownership. We will move beyond critique to a forward-looking discussion of how radio can more effectively serve artists, fans, local music communities and citizens.

Co-presented by the Recording Academy (Northwest Region), Reclaim the Media, the Future of Music Coalition, Experience Music Project and KEXP. Click here for more information!

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County Council Delays Comcast Decision

Summary:

Responding to citizen concerns about ISP peering agreements, public access television and broken promises from cable provider Comcast, King County Councilmember Dow Constantine announced Friday that the Council would postpone an expected decision on a proposed deal to extend Comcast's franchise. The delay gives critics of the measure more time to organize opposition among media activists, labor unions, political groups and others. Reclaim the Media has circulated an open letter to the Council, proposing a different path ahead for regional cable policy. Read our letter and sign on!

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Union Report calls Clear Channel 'Poster Child' for Consolidation Misery

Summary:

A new report commissioned by national media unions finds that the business and social practices of communications giant Clear Channel have had a profoundly negative impact on working people and their communities. The report provides data and analysis on many aspects of the company's practices, including its deceptive use of voicetracking technology, its "vanilla-izing" of programming, and its history of adversarial labor relations and scofflaw attitudes towards regulation. The report also charts the company's use of its dominance in the radio, entertainment and billboard advertising industries to harm artists and consumers, and to trumpet its own political ideology while censoring opposing viewpoints.

The presentation of the report coincided with an FCC Localism hearing in Clear Channel's hometown of San Antonio, Texas. Unions funding the report included, among others, AFTRA, IATSE, CWA and IBEW - all unions which represent groups of Clear Channel radio employees. According to the report, there is union representation at only 35 of the company's 1239 US stations.

[ The Clear Picture on Clear Channel - full report (pdf) ]

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King County Considers Comcast Franchise Extension

Summary:

Responding to increasing public opposition, the King County Council has decided to delay deciding the fate of a proposal to extend the County's cable franchise agreement with Comcast through the year 2010. The existing agreement, which specifies the cable provider's obligations to the County in return for monopoly access to its customer base, is scheduled to expire in Feb. 2005. Extending the contract would mean an immediate cash windfall ($1.2 million) for the County government, but that amounts to
chump change
, considering what Comcast would get in return. The proposal calls for giving up two of the County's current, needed public-use cable channels, as well as give up the potential to operate up to 15 additional digital channels. In addition, the proposed deal would ignore the cable company's abysmal record of noncompliance with the terms of its contract with the County to date.

If you're a King County cable subscriber, this proceeding is your chance to speak your mind. Sign RTM's letter to the Council or contact Councilmembers directly, and tell them not to trade away your technology access for a handful of beans. Hold Comcast accountable, and don't extend the franchise without getting a better deal!

[RTM analysis of the extension proposal]
[ Full text of the proposal (doc) ]
[ proposed changes to Comcast/King County franchise (doc) ]
[ Seattle, June 02 Testimony against Comcast ]
[ A good example: San Jose's Ascertainment ]
[ How is Comcast doing in your community? ComcastWatch.com ]

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RTM Surveys Seattle City Council Candidates

Summary:

Reclaim the Media has conducted our first Candidate Survey, asking Seattle City Council candidates to go on the record concerning significant media policy issues. In the next couple of years, the city will be renegotiating its cable franchise agreements with Comcast and Millennium. These contracts will determine many facets of how the city's neighborhoods receive cable TV and broadband Internet service for years to come; they're also Seattle's opportunity to get a lot more benefits from the cable providers in return for their lucrative access to our homes and public rights-of-way. It's in all of our interests to know whether our public officials are up to speed on these issues, and to know where they stand - either to hold them accountable to stated positions, or to press them for change.

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Public Accountability for Cable Policy: Oct 25 Conference

Summary:

Think your cable TV/Internet could be doing more? Well, it could. Municipalities across the country have demanded substantial public benefits from cable providers in return for their monopoly access to our televisions (and, increasingly, our computers). Free broadband networks for schools, libraries and nonprofits, improved public access television facilities, rate caps, open access guarantees and other public benefits have all been negotiated into cable franchise contracts--but not in Seattle. We deserve better--and we can get it through local citizen organizing and fighting for stronger, regional cable contracts.

You can help improve technology access in our region! Join us Saturday, Oct. 25 as the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility and Reclaim the Media present a day-long conference entitled Getting the Technology You Deserve: Community Participation in Regional Cable Franchise Policy. Speakers include national consumer advocates, local technology and public access gurus, and local and federal elected officials. Don't miss this! Check the full schedule and registration info here.

[ Seattle's stalled 1999 plan for public cable/telecom accountability ]
[ A preview of things to come? San Jose vs. Comcast ]

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KBCS back on the web

Summary:

After more than two years of air-only broadcasting, KBCS 91.3fm has relaunched its Internet stream. The station shut down its webcast in August 2001 because of uncertainties surrounding the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and its cumbersome reporting requirements and potentially crippling fees. KBCS' programming has undergone significant changes in the past two years. Public affairs programming has been expanded, including several locally-produced programs. Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now! airs weekdays at 5am and again at 6:30pm. Music programming has also been expanded, replacing late-night BBC programs. KBCS is Seattle's only listener-supported community radio station.

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Thin Air Community Radio Barnraising: Spokane Oct 24-26

Summary:

Help make history! Prometheus Radio Project and Thin Air Community Radio invite you to Spokane for a Community Radio Barnraising, Oct. 24-26. Volunteers from across the region will come together for a weekend of trainings, workshops and antenna construction, at the end of which Eastern Washington's first LPFM station will begin broadcasting.


Thin Air Community Radio
will feature distinctive programming by a host of community volunteers, featuring local and regional music and diverse public affairs programs.

[ Read the full story ]
[ Thin Air Community Radio ]
[ Prometheus Radio Project ]

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Court rules in Favor of Two-Newspaper Seattle

Summary:

Dashing the hopes of the Seattle Times Company, a King County Superior Court judge ruled that the Times could not break its Joint Operating Agreement with the Hearst-owned Post-Intelligencer. Judge Canova ruled that the year 2000, marred by a Newspaper Guild strike against the Times, could not count as a regular year of losses for the paper (three years' consecutive losses by one paper are required to consider ending the JOA, by the terms of the agreement).
The decision is being hailed as a victory by the Committee for a Two-Newspaper Town, a citizens' group which had successfully intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of the newspapers? readers.

Perhaps ironically, Times owner Frank Blethen became prominent in recent months as an outspoken proponent of media diversity - opposing the FCC's recent moves to deregulate media ownership rules, which could threaten locally-owned newspapers like the Seattle Times. The Hearst Corporation favored the rule changes, and the Post-Intelligencer editorialized in favor of deregulation.

[ Labor resolution favoring local newspaper diversity ]
[ Seattle Weekly coverage ]

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Powell Decision Slapped Again and Again

Summary:

A surprise Sept. 3 judicial victory temporarily suspended the FCC?s new media ownership rules set to go into effect Sept. 4, giving federal lawmakers more time to cancel the wildly unpopular rules before they ever become law. In a lawsuit brought against the rules by the Prometheus Radio Project and argued by the Media Access Project's Andy Schwartzman, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals decided to suspend the rules pending the case?s outcome.

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