FCC testimony on media ownership: Bill Schrier

Another tough act to follow. Thanks for your patience tonight. I’m Bill Schrier. I’m the chief technology officer for the City of Seattle and, therefore, I’m the city official responsible for running the city government’s own media outlets under oversight from council member Godden (who you heard from earlier tonight). So thank you for coming to Seattle to hear testimony on this issue. It is especially appropriate to hold testimony here in this beautiful Seattle Public Library, a temple to the free press.

So the Seattle City Council and mayor Gregg Nickels have taken a strong stand asking congress and the FCC to strengthen media ownership rules. Councilmember Godden testified earlier this evening regarding that position based on council resolutions passed -- not only last week, but also in 2003.

So let me tell you just a moment about the Seattle City-Government’s own media. The city operates a website (www.seattle.gov). Earlier this year, the Center for Digital Government named this website the ‘best city-government website in the United States’ because of its feature-rich content and interactive services and design. Seattle also operates minuscule television station channel 21. Earlier this year, it was named the number two ‘best minuscule TV station in the United States’ primarily because of its programming content, community content, and diverse content. We also operated Democracy Portal, which is a video archive of city council meetings and other public hearings which any citizen can go to any time of the day or night to pull up those media.

This set of honors and awards clearly demonstrates the Seattle City Government’s commitment to diversity in the media. But the blunt fact is that the media outlets in the United States have become extremely concentrated. The concentration of commercial media ownership standardizes and reduces the amount of local news and community programming we see and […] ever-increasing intent of maximized profits. There are some independent media outlets such as the one I operate -- the City of Seattle -- but we all struggle for attention in this advertising-saturated environment. So, thank you for coming here tonight and thank you, Seattle, for coming here tonight; this is indeed government by and for the people.

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