Haiti: sending hope over the airwaves

Ansel Herz, Inter Press Service

Throughout the earthquake's aftermath, the voices of many Port-Au-Prince radio stations have been loud and clear.

Radio Solidarite 88.5 FM is one of the outlets to survive the tremors. It resumed broadcasts from its small studio, at the top of a two-storey building in the city's centre, once the staff found some gas for their generator just two days after the quake.

"We have tried to say to the population to be strong, we appreciate their courage," said Radio Solidarite Director Georges Venel Remarais. "The international press was talking about violence but we didn't see any. The help is very slow at times, and people get angry. Our work is to say, let's be calm."

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New FCC commish challenges minority groups on net neutrality

Matt Lasar, Ars Technica

The Federal Communications Commission's newest Democrat, Mignon Clyburn, had some interesting comments to make about net neutrality on Friday at the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council's Social Justice summit. They came as the rush to stop the FCC from implementing its proposed Internet non-discrimination rules is in full force. And leading the charge are groups that, ironically, say they're opposed to discrimination, among them the MMTC.

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Jazeera, Telesur provide different perspectives on US military in Haiti

Nikolas Kosloff, Counterpunch

Watch the U.S. media and its coverage of the crisis in Haiti, and you get the impression that Washington is a benevolent power doing its utmost to help with emergency relief in the Caribbean island nation. But tune into al-Jazeera English or South American news network Telesur and you come away with a very different view. I was particularly struck by one hard hitting al-Jazeera report posted on You Tube which serves as a fitting antidote to the usual mainstream fare. The report is highly critical of the U.S., which according to the reporter has focused most of its energy on fostering stability and putting boots on the ground as opposed to rebuilding Haitian society.

It’s not the first time that al-Jazeera has taken on the U.S. military. Indeed, the network fell afoul of American authorities as long as seven years ago during the invasion of Iraq. A news organization comprised of many editors, journalists, presenters and technical staff who had formerly worked with the BBC in London, al-Jazeera broadcast shockingly graphic pictures of dead and captured American soldiers.

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Venezuela applies media social responsibility laws to cable channels

James Suggett, Venezuelanalysis

On Thursday, Venezuela’s National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) released a list of cable television companies that will be subject to the Law on Social Responsibility in Radio and Television, marking an expansion of the law’s jurisdiction over television broadcasters.

The law, known by the acronym RESORTE, establishes standards for child and adult programming, prohibits inflammatory content such as incitement riot or assassinate the president, places limits on commercial advertising, and requires stations to broadcast important government announcements.

When the law was passed in 2004, it applied only to companies holding public broadcasting concessions. Last July, CONATEL announced that cable broadcasters would undergo review and be subject to the law if 70% of their content and overall operations could be considered “national,” meaning Venezuelan.

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Verizon's new role as copyright enforcer

Jon Healey, LA Times

CNet's reported today that Verizon Communications, one of the country's largest providers of broadband Internet access, has started cutting off the accounts of people accused of repeatedly infringing copyrights. The company says it doesn't monitor what its customers are doing on their DSL or fiber-optic connections; it leaves the job of detecting infringements to the MPAA, RIAA and other copyright holders. Instead, when it receives a notice from a copyright holder about an alleged infringement linked to one of its lines, it sends a notice to the account holder identifying the work(s) at issue and warning, "You are legally responsible for all activity originating from your account."

A Verizon spokeswoman told that few accounts have been terminated as a result of repeated accusations of infringement. A single warning letter has been enough to stop the complaints about the vast majority of lines, she said. And that's a good thing -- it's hard to defend garden-variety file-sharing, particularly when there's plenty of authorized content available free online. Verizon also insists that it doesn't tell copyright holders the names of the people it sends warning letters to, in keeping with its privacy policies.

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The Conservative case for net neutrality

Bill Snyder, InfoWorld

Hey there, conservatives: Net neutrality is your issue, too.

Innovation, economic growth, and the health of content providers are what's at stake as the FCC moves toward a new set of rules governing the Internet. Until now, much of the discussion about the future of the Internet has focused on issues like freedom of expression, fairness, and metered pricing -- real concerns, to be sure. But a pair of academic research papers circulated by the Open Internet Coalition puts the issue in economic perspective.

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FCC to study future of media

Katy Bachman, Media Week

In what could turn out to be a tall order, the Federal Communications Commission Thursday (Jan. 21) launched an initiative to examine the future of media and the information needs of communities in the digital age. Steven Waldman, who recently joined the FCC as a senior advisor to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, will lead the effort, which will culminate in a report later this year.

The FCC intends for the report to serve as the basis for policy recommendations for the commission and other government entities.

Topics under consideration for the report include the state of TV, radio, newspaper and Internet news and information services; the effectiveness and nature of public interest obligations in a digital era; and the role of public media and private sector foundations, among others.


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Air America to go silent

Chris McGreal, The Guardian

First Massachusetts, now Air America.

One of the US's leading liberal radio networks, launched six years ago with the comedian Al Franken among its presenters to challenge the domination of Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives, has declared bankruptcy and will go off air on Monday.

Air America made a name for itself with Franken, until he left to win a seat in the Senate, who pulled in a sizeable part of its audience on 100 radio stations across the country. Other presenters included Ron Reagan, son of President Ronald Reagan.

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Naomi Klein on how corporate branding has taken over America

Naomi Klein, The Guardian

In May 2009, Absolut Vodka launched a limited edition line called "Absolut No Label". The company's global public relations manager, Kristina Hagbard, explained that "For the first time we dare to face the world completely naked. We launch a bottle with no label and no logo, to manifest the idea that no matter what's on the outside, it's the inside that really matters."

A few months later, Starbucks opened its first unbranded coffee shop in Seattle, called 15th Avenue E Coffee and Tea. This "stealth Starbucks" (as the anomalous outlet immediately became known) was decorated with "one-of-a-kind" fixtures and customers were invited to bring in their own music for the stereo system as well as their own pet social causes – all to help develop what the company called "a community personality." Customers had to look hard to find the small print on the menus: "inspired by Starbucks". Tim Pfeiffer, a Starbucks senior vice-president, explained that unlike the ordinary Starbucks outlet that used to occupy the same piece of retail space, "This one is definitely a little neighbourhood coffee shop." After spending two decades blasting its logo on to 16,000 stores worldwide, Starbucks was now trying to escape its own brand.

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Low income, rural, Native American, African American and Latino communities call for an open Internet


In an historic day for the Federal Communications Commission and the Internet, the Media Action Grassroots Network,,, Applied Research Center, Afro-Netizen, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Native Public Media and Rural Broadband Policy Group submitted a range of grassroots stories and comments from urban, rural and struggling sub-urban communities in response to the Commission's notice of proposed rule making "In the Matter of Preserving the Open Internet and Broadband Industry Practices."

The groups' comments speak to the urgent need for an open and free Internet for low to no income, rural, Native American, African American and Latino communities.

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