Democratic platform calls for media diversity

By Ira Teinowitz, TV Week

A final draft of the 2008 Democratic Party Platform signals that its candidates will follow Barack Obama’s push for increased diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, as well as more educational content on the Web and television.

The plank also calls for the appointment of a “chief technology officer” and seems to put Democrats on record as supporting legislation or Federal Communications Commission action to ensure that Internet service providers don’t discriminate between content providers by offering some a faster path to consumer desks—so called “net neutrality.”

Called “A Connected America,” the plank promises Democrats will work to boost the amount of minority-owned media, increase children’s programming, “clarify” broadcasters’ public-interest obligations and work to improve the controls parents have to monitor what their kids see on TV.

It suggests Democrats will work to impose some new privacy protections and take a harsher view of privacy violations.

“We will strengthen privacy protections in the digital age and will harness the power of technology to hold government and business accountable for violations of personal privacy,” according to a section of the final draft of the platform that TelevisionWeek obtained.

The platform explains the steps are part of a concerted effort to deal with some new challenges that technology brings.

“In the 21st century, our world is more intertwined than at any time in human history. This new connectedness presents us with untold opportunities for innovation, but also new challenges,” it says.

The party document echoes many of the same themes that Obama has espoused in his campaign to beat Republican John McCain in the election.

“We will encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation’s spectrum,” the section.

“We will encourage more educational content on the Web and in our media. We will give parents the tools and information they need to manage what their children see on television and the Internet—in ways fully consistent with the First Amendment.”

“We will protect the Internet’s traditional openness and ensure that it remains a dynamic platform for free speech, innovation, and creativity,” says the section.

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