FCC testimony on media ownership: Robert Kam

My name is Robert Kam. I work for Thurston Community Television in Olympia, Washington (the public access channel). I need to start off by thanking you guys for doing what you’re doing… for going around the country, for sitting through these long meetings. I know about your efforts because I have cable, and I can see it on C-SPAN. I have never seen it on any of the major networks, and it goes without saying that this will be un-televised tonight in the Seattle area.

I work in television and I love working in television, but I hate what’s happened in television and I hate what is happening to the people that work in television’s salaries. I hope that when you deconsolidate the media -- we know you will -- that our salaries will go back up and it will be a great day. I work in public access so that I can avoid working for these media conglomerations; public access is a wonderful experiment on cable that is the most democratic media that we have so far and instead of it being flourished and being given more funding and an FCC license (so we can graduate from cable to broadcast, God forbid) we are being defunded constantly thanks to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, state-wide franchising, and the threat of national franchising. In fact, in Seattle five years from now, SCAN (the public access channel here) will be de-funded. It will have zero money coming from cable franchising; thankfully I work in Olympia, and, we are safe.

I didn’t always want to work in public access, I used to want to work in television news; but, we know -- everybody here said it -- there is something wrong with our news. I am so sick and tired of hearing about Brittany Spears and Kevin Federline or Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes as Jon Stewart would say, ‘it is a slow news day.’ It has been a slow news decade since 1996. Now, in addition to you deconsolidating media, you need to do some positive things to help the little guy foster public access… give them FCC licenses, grant more low-power FM, fund PBS and grant more independently owned television channels FCC licenses. Thank you.

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