Features

Forum on Public Broadcasting: Aug 2

 Aug 2
Summary:

What does the "public" in public broadcasting mean? What range of opinions should find a home on PBS and NPR, and how should programming decisions be kept accountable (and to whom)? How should stations respond to accusations of liberal bias in public broadcasting? On August 2, Reclaim the Media hosts a public discussion featuring Ross Reynolds (KUOW), Robert Jefferson (KBCS), Ann Suter (SCAN), Randy Brinson and Stephanie Malone (KCTS), on the challenges facing public broadcasting today, and the relationship between public and community broadcasting. The free, public forum takes place Tuesday, August 2, from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Pritchard Island Beach House: 6400 55th Ave S. in Seattle.

[ map and directions ]
[ recent Public Broadcasting headlines ]

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Protect and expand low power community radio!

Summary:

Across the US, noncommercial low power FM stations provide communities with uniquely local voices and programming. Yet while no LPFM station is more than a few years old, they all remain members of an endangered species--their expansion hobbled by Congress and their existence threatened by overly restrictive rules set by the FCC. For example, a LPFM station lacks "primary status," meaning that a commercial station using the same frequency can boost power and boot the LPFM off the air, even if the LPFM was there first. As it happens, Spokane's KYRS/Thin Air Community Radio appears to be facing exactly that threat, as a commercial station from Idaho prepares to beam more country music into Spokane.
Luckily, the FCC has just opened a window for public comments on how to improve LPFM broadcasting. Let them know that community radio deserves equal status with Clear Channel! You can take two steps today to protect community radio: first, use this form to contact the FCC; ask them to protect stations like KYRS by granting LPFM stations primary status. (The Prometheus Radio Project has a few other suggestions as well.) Then contact your Senators and ask them to support the McCain/Cantwell Local Community Radio Act, to expand low-power radio nationwide.

[ Contact the FCC about its current LPFM Rulemaking ]

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Will Big Cable Get Even Bigger?

Summary:

As Seattle renegotiates its cable service with Comcast, The FCC is currently reviewing its national rules that determine how big cable companies are allowed to become. The two largest providers, Comcast and Time Warner, are seeking FCC approval for their scheme to absorb a third cable company, Adelphia. If the FCC rubber-stamps this deal, Comcast and Time Warner will have unchecked power to raise our rates, restrict and filter our internet use, dictate the channels and programs we see, and limit local and noncommercial programming.

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Unspin the Spin: Jeff Cohen in Seattle, May 23

Summary:

On May 23, Reclaim the Media presents noted media critic Jeff Cohen, speaking on Overcoming Mainstream Media Spin: Exploring the Role of Independent Media.. Cohen, founder of the Media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, is also co-author (with Norman Solomon) of The Wizards of Media Oz, and produced Phil Donahue's ill-fated talk show on MSNBC. Come hear Jeff's outsider/insider perspective and become a more effective media citizen!

[ Monday, May 23, 7pm; Kane Hall 110, University of Washington ]
[ event cosponsored by Reclaim the Media, the Seattle Alliance for Media Education, the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement, the Northwest Center for Excellence in Media Literacy, Newground Social Investment, the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild, Seattle Veterans for Peace, KBCS 91.3fm Community Radio and YES! Magazine ]

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We can do it! Grassroots Media and Community Radio in the Northwest

Summary:

Bellingham is the place to be for Media activism on the weekend of May 21 and 22. On Sat. May 21, the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center hosts the Bellingham Grassroots and Independent Media Conference; speakers include SmartMeme's Patrick Reinsborough and Bert Sacks. Then on Sunday the 22nd, Reclaim the Media and KBCS host the first Northwest Community Radio Roundtable. We're working together to build a regional network linking together the Northwest's many community stations. Join the conversation and let's get started!

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April 2: All the news that's fit to own

Summary:

"When the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government," Thomas Jefferson famously said. But how well informed are we? In 1983, 50 companies controlled America 's mass media. Today, that number has dwindled to five. How is the concentration of Media ownership affecting the news we hear and what are the implications for the health of our democracy? On April 2, Foolproof's American Voices series presents a panel of high-profile experts discussing these questions at Seattle's Paramount Theater. The lineup: intrepid media scholar Robert McChesney, trailblazing independent journalist Amy Goodman, maverick newspaper publisher Frank Blethen and veteran talk show host Phil Donahue, moderated by Freedom Forum vice president Nancy Maynard. UPDATE: coverage of the panel

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Bill of Media Rights

Bill of Media Rights
Summary:

This winter, national and local Media activist groups from across the country worked together to produce a pithy statement of values for media that serves our democracy. The result is the new Bill of Media Rights, which begins: A free and vibrant media, full of diverse and competing voices, is the lifeblood of America's democracy and culture, as well as an engine of growth for its economy. Set for an official launch this spring, the statement already has the support of organizations representing millions of Americans--demonstrating again that the public demands greater diversity, greater fairness, and greater accountability from our media.

[ Read the Bill of Media Rights ]
[ AFL-CIO endorsement ]

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Independent, unembedded: journalist Dahr Jamail on Iraq

Summary:

Weary of the overall failure of the US media to accurately report on the realities of the war in Iraq for the Iraqi people and US soldiers, independent journalist Dahr Jamail went to Iraq to report on the war himself. His dispatches were quickly recognized as an important media resource and he is now writing for numerous outlets including Inter Press Service and The Nation; his voice is often heard on international broadcasts from the BBC and Democracy Now!, among others. Just returned from covering the elections in Iraq, Jamail visits several Northwest communities, Feb. 18-22. He will share direct insights about the war, the occupation, and the people of Iraq. Check out our events box (left) or Jamail's site for details!

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LPFM at five: ready to lose the training wheels

Summary:

Low-Power FM is five years old this month, and as media activists celebrate the birthday with a mini-conference in Washington DC on Feb. 8, they'll also be celebrating two pieces of recent good news. Chairman Michael Powell, architect of the FCC's effort to seriously weaken federal media ownership limits, has announced his plans to leave the Commission. The second piece of good news was announced just a few days later: the Bush administration will not appeal the district court ruling which struck down Powell's drastic deregulation. This nail in the coffin of Powell's proposed evisceration of media diversity protections represents a definitive victory for the wave of media democracy activism around the country which rose to stop his plans. Together, the two announcements signal the happy end of a particularly ignominious chapter in the FCC's history.

Joining in celebration of LPFM's fifth birthday are a number of federal lawmakers who are ready to give community radio a fresh start, by removing the needless "training wheel" restrictions placed on LPFM after a deceptive industry lobbying effort. Washington Senator Maria Cantwell and others are ready to lead the charge, by reintroducing a bill supporting community radio across the country. Senator Cantwell has made a new pledge to "continue to fight for the diversity of voices on our nation's airwaves." Read or listen to Cantwell's statement now.

[ Prometheus Radio Project ]
[ Powell's legacy hangs in the balance (doc) ]

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King County says no to public, yes to Comcast

Summary:

On Monday Dec. 13, the King County Council voted 9-3 to extend the county's cable franchise agreement with Comcast for five years, under terms extremely favorable to the company. The proposal, quietly announced days earlier, came as a surprise to community media and technology activists who had urged the Council last winter to delay extending Comcast's lucrative franchise in order to develop a proposal which better addresses the public's needs. Some concerns were expressed in an open letter signed last spring by over 250 local citizens representing community groups, unions, small businesses, public technology experts and community media supporters.

The franchise extension not only ignores all citizen recommendations, it actually represents steps backward from the County's current agreement with Comcast. The proposal dramatically withdraws support from community access and government television, and from the institutional broadband network linking County schools, libraries and public services. It institutionalizes Comcast's refusal to allow small local ISPs open access to its network, and voluntarily gives up some $21 million worth of unused public bandwidth in exchange for a paltry one-time payoff of $1.2 million.

Read our complete response.

[ Citizen petition to the County Council ]
[ First RTM op-ed (Dec. 03), Second RTM op-ed (Jan. 04) ]
[ Primer on local cable organizing (pdf) and links to more info

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