FCC testimony on media ownership: Lyle Courtsal

My name is Lyle Courtsal. I was a public-access producer until our station was basically destroyed from within. It is an interesting thing to see how it was that these vague forces influence these people to do things that ordinarily they wouldn’t do. They had been hypnotized somehow or another. I am the kind of person I will sit there and say, “Wait a second. Break out of the trance! You know, ‘Think! Think about what the possibilities are if we lose analog technologies and the Bill of Rights.”

We are going to support the Bill of Rights with analog technology; if you eliminate the Bill of Rights, if you eliminate analog technology. Basically what happens is the computer technology decides who the heck is in and who the heck is out and who the heck is on and who the heck is off. That is what I experienced. I had en entire organization that basically shut me out. Really too bad… they missed out on a lot.

Basically what we have to do is make sure that our rights and our technology -- that vast resource of technology that we developed for the last 40 years -- is protected from these vague, but very rapacious forces that come in. What I seriously would like to see is basically that it was a shame because I am hearing a lot of people. The interesting thing is to see who is getting left behind now, you know? And my disabled friends are getting left behind in many, many ways. All they need is an analog digital radio, and they can get out. All they need is an analog television and an analog VCR to do what they need to do in order to uphold their democracy.

Basically, there are two kinds of disasters. We are all familiar with the fast-moving disaster like a hurricane or an earthquake. But there is another slow-moving disaster happening in our midst. Basically, a whole lot of people are being systemically left behind bureaucratically. And so your job, if you choose to take it on -- and believe me it’s kind of dangerous sometimes -- is to sort out what laws need to stay and what laws need to go so that the interest of the American people and our democracy is protected in times of crisis (both slow-moving disasters like the last 25 years and fast-moving disasters like we had in New Orleans). Thank you very much. And that means supporting both analog and digital technologies. What we are finding is digital technology is nowhere near as reliable as they are saying. When you are under pressure on the ground, you want things to work. Yup!

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