Missing voices at the Seattle FCC Hearing

by Jonathan Lawson, Reclaim the Media

[comment at the Nov 9 Seattle FCC Hearing on media ownership]

As Commissioner Copps noted, if there had been respectful noice for this hearing, many more would have turned out tonight. No one can speak for these missing voices. But I will use my time tonight to say at least something about our friends and neighbors who the FCC will not hear from this evening.

If the FCC strikes down the cross-ownership ban, people living in small or medium-sized cities in our region are especially likely to see reduction in the quality and quantity of local news coverage. Northwest rural folks deserve the chance to discuss such concerns with the FCC. So do African-Americans, Latinos and other minority communities, who own few media outlets, and whose voices are severely underrepresented in civic dialogue as a result.

Native Americans have few opportunities to speak to the FCC, and the Northwest is home to many tribes who have limited or no voice on local media. Northwest residents include tech workers, union members, immigrants, people with disabilities, queer folks, independent musicians, young people, women, and people of diverse faiths -- many with powerful stories to tell about how their voices have somehow remained marginalized in the much-celebrated explosion of channels on cable, TV, radio and the Internet.

Dozens of rural and urban Northwest churches, schools and community organizations are using low-power FM radio to provide local news and cultural programs around our region. Many more were denied permission to have their own station. The FCC should take advantage of what these broadcasters and would-be broadcasters can share about the local media needs of their communities.

The short notice for this hearing, and the fast track Chairman Martin has imposed on the media ownership proceeding, are an insult to all these communities, and have made this process illegitimate.

Obviously, the FCC should put the brakes on this railroad train. Whether or not that happens, after the Commission goes back to DC, all of us will still be here and will continue fighting for media diversity, quality journalism, media democracy, and media justice.

article originally published at .

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