Features

From the blog

State video bill dies in committee, but telcos look ahead

The Washington legislative clock has run out on SB6003, the Qwest-backed video franchise bill which would have deepened the digital divide and limited funding streams for community TV. The bill is dead for this session, thanks in part to quick opposition by Washington citizen and consumer groups.

However, the FCC's recent video franchise ruling will reshape the franchising landscape to favor telecom companies' interests - if it withstands likely court challenges. And in Washington State, another bill backed by the telecom industry (SB 5592), has made it out of the Senate Telecommunications Committee and will have another chance for a hearing in the Senate Rules Committee. The new bill would establish a bipartisan task force to review the state's entire telecommunications policy framework, including statewide video franchising. But the task force's proposed membership would stack the deck dramatically in favor of corporate perspectives on what's right for Washington, sidelining consumer and local government voices.

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From the blog

New video bill would benefit Qwest, but hurt Washington State citizens and consumers

UPDATE: The legislative clock has run out on SB6003, the Qwest-backed video franchise bill which would have deepened the digital divide and limited funding streams for comunity TV. The bill is dead for this session, thanks in part to quick opposition by citizen and consumer groups.

Reclaim the Media headed down to Olympia to speak against a very bad new telecommunications bill, SB6003, which would open the door for Qwest and other telecom companies to provide cable-type video services to customers statewide - but on the company's terms. Their terms don't include fair support for PEG (public access, government and educational) TV programming, and they would seriously erode local customer accountability. Last but certainly not least, this corporate-sponsored bill would allow Qwest and other companies the right to "cherry-pick" the neighborhoods they want to provide the best services to, while skipping over less affluent or rural neighborhoods.

Speaking in favor of the bill at its first public hearing before the Senate Water, Energy and Telecommunications committee this week were representatives from Qwest and telecommunications industry lobbyists. Reclaim the Media codirector Karen Toering and policy advisor Michael Weisman spoke against the bill, along with a range of community leaders, public access TV advocates, local government representatives, and cable industry mouthpieces.

Info and full text of the bill here (pdf)
Reclaim the Media analysis here (pdf)

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Journalist summoned to testify against Watada

Summary:

UPDATE: VICTORY! The Army has dropped its subpoena against Sarah Olson.

The US Army has issued a subpoena to independent journalist Sarah Olson, demanding that she testify as a witness for the prosecution of Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to be court-martialled for refusing to serve in Iraq. At least two other journalists are reportedly also being pursued to testify. Responding to her subpoena, Olson said "it's absolutely outrageous. It's a journalist's job to report the news. It is not a journalist's job to testify against their own sources." Olson is now scheduled to testify before the Fort Lewis, WA court martial on Feb. 5. Click here to tell the Army: Dismiss the Subpoena against Journalist Sarah Olson!

Defend the Press coalition
Free Press Working Group site
The Pentagon vs. Press Freedom
Is the Army Trying to Silence Lt. Ehren Watada? by Sarah Olson
Ehren Watada statement at Veterans for Peace conf. Aug 06
Ehren Watada at NW Community Radio Summit, Sept 06 (audio)

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From the blog

Over 400 attend Seattle media ownership hearing

On Thursday, Nov. 30, over 400 people packed into the auditorium of Seattle's downtown library for a public hearing on the FCC's media ownership regulations (audio/photos/testimony). FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein presided over the event, which opened with comments from Congressman Jay Inslee. Most of the nearly four-hour hearing was devoted to public testimony; a wide range of community members came ready to voice their concerns about the impact of consolidated ownership on quality journalism, viewpoint diversity, and citizen access to the airwaves and electronic media platforms. Testimony at the Seattle hearing overwhelmingly supported maintaining - or strengthening - the FCC's current media ownership rules. Speakers included local musicians, commercial and noncommercial radio broadcasters, labor representatives, journalists, public servants and peace activists. For those who were not able to participate in the Seattle FCC hearing, the FCC will continue accepting written comments on media ownership through Jan. 16 (click here to file comments online). Together, we must continue to demonstrate massive public support for sensible, democratic media regulation. If we keep the pressure on the FCC (and, if necessary, Congress), we will win!

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Clear Channel buyer accused of fraud

Summary:

The country's largest owner of radio stations, Clear Channel, has agreed to a buy-out for a reported 18.7 billion dollars. One of the two major investment groups involved in the purchase of Clear Channel has been accused of violating Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure requirements. Thomas H Lee Partners' history of litigation over unethical business practices may not bode well for the legal and financial future of Clear Channel.

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Why media matters for women

Summary:

From content to production to policy, media is a feminist issue in election years and beyond. Jennifer Pozner of Women in Media and News looks at why feminism needs media activism, and why media activism needs an anti-racist and anti-sexist lens.

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From the blog

Seattle to host FCC media ownership hearing on Nov 30

Why Should I Care? Q&A
FCC/Media Ownership fact sheet (pdf)
Communications Rights: putting the issues in context (pdf)
Media Democracy fact sheet
Printable postcards to send comments to the FCC (pdf)

On Nov. 30, a Seattle public hearing on media ownership takes place at the Seattle Public Library, with FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein. The hearing will help the FCC gather public comment as it considers revising its media ownership rules, which help protect viewpoint diversity by limiting the number of newspapers, TV and radio stations a single company may own or control. This is Seattle's opportunity to weigh in on an issue which is critical to our culture and our democracy. The public hearing begins at 6pm, Thursday Nov. 30, in the Seattle Public Library's main auditorium (map). Prepare your two-minute comment and arrive early to sign up to testify!

Opening statements from the two FCC Commissioners and from Congressman Jay Inslee will be followed by public testimony. The hearing is cosponsored by Reclaim the Media, The Seattle Times, KBCS 91.3fm Community Radio, the Minority Executive Directors Coalition and the UW Department of Communication.

Media regulation timeline (from Bill Moyers' NOW)
Audio from the March 03 Seattle FCC hearing
RTM response to 2003 deregulation
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Indymedia journalist killed by Oaxacan paramilitaries while covering conflict

Summary:

On Oct. 27, New York-based Indymedia journalist and videographer Brad Will was shot and killed in Oaxaca by armed thugs supporting the state's embattled governor Ulises Ruiz. The shooting took place amidst a government/military crackdown on pro-democracy protests calling for Ruiz's resignation. Will was one of a number of indepedent media journalists in Oaxaca covering the conflict; he was one of at least six people killed during the weekend by government-supported paramilitaries. Establishment media reporting on the conflict is obscuring the largely one-sided nature of the violence, and suggesting that the pro-democracy movement, rather than state oppression, is the cause of turmoil. Meanwhile, as part of an increased crackdown, paramilitaries and police have shut down Oaxacan community media outlets.

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From the blog

Davey D speaks at Hip Hop: Back to Its Roots, Nov 17-19

Oakland-based hip-hop journalist Davey D returns to Seattle this November to speak at Hip Hop: Back to Its Roots, a festival of hip-hop arts, dance, music and rapping featuring local and internationally celebrated performers including Isis (Toronto) and Spinderella. The festival runs Nov. 17-19 at Seattle's Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. Co-sponsored by Reclaim the Media.

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New economic study shows: more media consolidation will hurt Washington cities

Summary:

Cities across Washington State will suffer if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eliminates or further relaxes key limits on media ownership, according to new research examining the impact of potential media mergers in Seattle, Spokane, and Yakima. The study, released by Reclaim the Media in conjunction with the national Media and Democracy Coalition, focuses on the potential impact of newspaper-broadcast "cross-ownership" mergers. Download the full report (pdf).

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