Grassroots Media

House Committee unanimously backs community radio bill

Prometheus Radio Project

With a unanimous voice vote, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Local Community Radio Act this morning. By repealing restrictions that drastically limit channels available to low power FM (LPFM) stations, the Act will allow hundreds of community groups nationwide to access the public airwaves.

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Baldwin introduces legislation to protect Community Access TV

Alliance for Community Media

The Alliance for Community Media applauds Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin for introducing the Community Access Preservation (CAP) Act of 2009 (PDF) to address the challenges faced by public, education, and government (PEG) TV channels and community access television stations.

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Community radio at the crossroads: the significance of the KPFA board

Joe Wanzala, Shahram Aghamir, Tracy Rosenberg and Anthony Fest, Berkeley Daily Planet

KPFA listeners know that Local Station Board elections tend to be acrimonious. What many listeners might not realize is that the controversy of the LSB elections actually reflects a historical issue about the nature of community radio itself. The four of us founded the Independents for Community Radio affinity group of LSB candidates with the goal of ensuring that KPFA remains rooted in the communities it serves. In October 2008, nearly 90 KPFA staff members issued a statement articulating their goals for leadership at the station. They called for management committed to fulfilling the historic Transformation Proposal made during the 1999 KPFA Lockout. They also called for leaders who support the unpaid staff, maintain a respectful and collaborative approach to station operations, and understand that KPFA should include community representatives on its decision making bodies. These aspirations remain largely unfulfilled or have been undermined by the current management and its Concerned Listener allies.

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From a porch in Montana, low-power radio’s voice rises

Kirk Johnson, New York Times

The floor of the broadcast booth at KXZI radio, which is, truth be told, really just Scott Johnston’s front porch, slopes gently down toward the yard, as 90-year-old farmhouse porches tend to do.

Mr. Johnston, once a folksinger, says that small stations like his, if royalty payments for Web-streaming remain affordable, could have equal footing to compete with the biggest stations in the world.

Mr. Johnston’s antenna, out by the big cottonwood trees that line the road, is not as fortified as it might be either. Unsupported by wires, it sways in the wind, so that when a storm front strikes northwest Montana, the station’s signal fluctuates. And even in the best of times, 100 watts go only so far — the music cannot be heard even in nearby homes because the signal does not penetrate walls very well.

Mainstream media it is not.

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Avila TV in Venezuela: Revolutionizing television

Lainie Cassel, Upside Down World

In Venezuela they are a key force in the country’s ongoing media-war. Armed with video cameras, they are a team of some 380 young people working for Caracas television station, Avila TV. Started as an experiment just three years ago, according to one study it is now the third most watched station in the city. Funded completely by the government, they consider themselves a voice of President Hugo Chavez’s “socialist revolution.”

Located on Avenida Urdaneta, in the center of the city, Avila TV is in a large beautiful building bustling with young adults sporting Caracas’ latest urban fashions. The building, a former bank, has been transformed with floors of state of the art equipment and walls decorated with elaborate murals and posters of well-known revolutionary figures.

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Appeals court rules in favor of Low-Power FM

Media Access Project

In a significant victory for low power FM radio, the U.S. Court of Appeals of the D.C. Circuit today affirmed the December 2007 Federal Communications Commission decision to protect LPFM stations against “encroachment” by full power radio stations.

The Commission’s ruling was challenged by the National Association of Broadcasters. Media Access Project represented Prometheus Radio Project as an intervenor in the case.

"MAP strongly applauds the Court of Appeals for upholding the Commission’s public interest authority to protect and promote low power FM," said MAP Vice President Parul P. Desai. "The decision is a critical win for the future of LPFM and the preservation of local, diverse viewpoints in communities throughout the nation," she said.

Read the court's decision.

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Changes at KDNA prove a rocky road

Melissa Sánchez, Yakima Herald

GRANGER, Wash. -- Change is not coming easily to this small town's beloved radio station.

When the man who led Radio KDNA for close to three decades retired last summer, he said it was time for the next generation to empower and educate the Latino community.

Clearly it was no longer the same farm worker community the station sought to reach 29 years ago, when Ricardo Garcia helped found it.

His successor envisioned reaching out to second- and third-generation Latinos like herself, creating new partnerships in the Yakima Valley and pushing the station into the digital age.

"I wouldn't be trying to fill Ricardo's shoes, but I would bring my own pair of shoes," said Maria Fernandez, the new executive director of the station's operator, Northwest Communities Education Center (NCEC). "We're two different people."

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FCC gets an earful from public access supporters about cable bad practices

John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

Advice poured in to the FCC Monday (March 9), the deadline for initial comments on a request to the FCC by backers of PEG (public, educational and government) channels that the commission put those channels "on an equal footing" with basic commercial channels. At press time there were over 200 comments, including from various city officials.

According to Free Press' filing: "All cable systems must pass through closed captioning and secondary audio programs when provided by PEG content producers; must offer PEG content through the same interface and service tier as other basic cable channels, with no extra obstacles; and must deliver PEG content to the customer at the same video and audio quality as other basic cable channels."

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Fourth estate foreclosure: why we need a National Endowment for Journalism

Alex Stonehill, Common Language Project

2009 promises to be another tough year for the journalism industry, and it looks like it’s our turn to take a beating here in Seattle. The imminent closure of the Seattle Post–Intelligencer, the city’s oldest and second largest newspaper was announced last week, just a few months after the second round of major staff cutbacks in 2008 went down at our other major newspaper, the Seattle Times.

With the country sliding into a massive recession, two major foreign wars raging, federal investigators uncovering a series of juicy political scandals, and our first black President entering office, all on the tail of an exciting local weather emergency, it’s hard to imagine the newspaper industry is having trouble finding news people want to read.

So what’s the problem? Industry insiders blame the internet for all of newspapers’ woes. But it’s a bit more complicated than that.

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SCAN adalpts to new age of community media

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