Hannah Sassaman — Banned from the National Association of Broadcasters Since 2002


Full Power Lift Off — and Low Power FM!
October 12, 2007, 4:18 am
Filed under: fcc, radio, rants

Over here at the Prometheus Radio Project, we are lucky enough to have an amazing team of interns, volunteers, staff, and allies who have been working to tell as many folks as possible about their last chance to get a big, noncommercial radio station for their communities. One room of our three room office was converted into a call center — just in time for hundreds of calls, from Florida to Maine to Kansas to Alabama to Wyoming and beyond, to pour into our basement office.

The full power team is waiting, now, for the moment where the FCC opens up their website to receive the painstakingly-filled-out applications, from social justice coalitions working for community rights in Mississippi — to ACORN affiliates in Connecticut — to symphony orchestras without an outlet for classical music in towns across the nation. Now that the Commission has decided to limit the number of applications that any one group can file, strong, local groups have a much better chance of getting that construction permit from the Commission — their ticket to begin putting up a tower, assembling a studio, and finally going on the air.

But as focused as the full power team is right now on the details of getting these applications together, one by one, with groups across the nation — the largest part of our movement’s work to build strong local radio is just beginning. As Zane Ibrahim, founder of South Africa’s legendary grassroots radio station, Bush Radio, likes to say — community radio is 10 percent radio — and 90 percent community.

“Why do people want community radio stations?” I get asked that all the time — usually by guys with Bluetooth cell-phone adapters in their ears, and personal electronic devices in each hand. “Can’t people connect online? On blogs? On MySpace?” People do connect online, and we have to make sure that people’s power over the internet grows, rather than declines in the face of big broadcasters. But while these technologies are more and more available across the nation and around the world, we’ve found that a bricks-and-mortar community radio station makes different people come together to share a resource — kids and grandparents, immigrants and politicians, Christians, 80’s hair metal enthusiasts, science-fiction hip hop connosieurs, and your local superintendent of schools. Community radio builds community, in our cities and towns — at least, that’s the idea.

For every full power FM radio station that goes to radical infoshops in Kentucky and youth music collectives in Michigan, there are dozens, if not hundreds, more groups that lost out this time around — possibly the last time that the FCC will ever give out full power FM radio stations for free to regular people with something to say in their local area. In many cases, their city had too many stations on the dial for them to be able to apply for a 5000 or 50,000 watt frequency. Other groups deliberated over the cost of hiring an engineer to fill out their application — a few thousand dollars — money that’s hard to come by for a collective just starting out — radio a twinkle in their eye.

For all these groups that won’t get a radio station as a result of this rare, full power FM window — and for all the thousands of other organizations that have been waiting for years and decades to build their own radio stations — we have to turn to the next phase of the fight to expand community media — low power FM radio (LPFM).

Back in 2000, groups like the ones I named, and scores of other people across the country, organized at the FCC untill they started the low power FM radio service — an inexpensive, local way for community groups to build their own radio stations. Broadcasting at 100 watts, these stations were meant to serve small communities in America’s biggest cities — and thousands of smaller suburbs and towns across the
nation.

However, our country’s biggest broadcasters did what they usually do when real people want to use a resource reserved for the American people — they cried ‘interference’ — pretending like there would be a technical problem if thousands of churches, municipalities, and other non profits took to their own airwaves. They said that if you put a small station on the air — at 100 watts or less — next to a big station in a big city — that the little station would cause ‘oceans of interference’ — making the Clear Channels and NPR’s of the world unlistenable for thousands of people in the area.

The FCC thought that that the claims of the big broadcasters were unfounded, to put it politely, and fought to keep the service the way it was. Still, our legislators thought that there was enough concern about LPFM to limit it to places like Opelousas, Louisiana — rather than New Orleans – Chanute, Kansas, rather than Kansas City — and so on. Because of the Congressional restriction on how we could use our own airwaves, over 70 percent of the potential licenses were lost — thousands of new community voices
were silenced.

Congress ordered the FCC to study what potential interference LPFMs might cause if they were allowed to be licensed closer on the dial to big stations. They commissioned an independent firm, the MITRE corporation, to determine whether or not LPFMs would cause interference — once and for all. Their study came back crystal clear — there was
plenty of room for LPFMs all over the country — and now was the time to expand this service all across the nation.

We’ve been waiting since 2003 for bills to pass in Congress, but now, because of the media organizing people like you are doing around the nation, we have a real shot. Congressmembers Mike Doyle, the Democrat from Pittsburgh and Lee Terry, the Republican from Nebraska, introduced a bill this summer which is poised to expand LPFM to your community and across the nation. Their bill, the Local Community Radio Act of 2007, House Bill 2802, would take the MITRE study’s findings into account, and allow thousands more groups to get a small slice of the airwaves that they own.

The Senate is acting on this too — Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has joined with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to introduce their companion bill in the Senate — Senate Bill 1675.

The House bill has over 50 cosponsors, and the Senate bill is due to move fast — but, just like we’ve been doing at the FCC, we need to keep pushing our legislators to cosponsor these vital pieces of legislation. No big lobbying groups are going to win more community
radio for us — we need to come together to ask our legislators to bring radio stations to us.

Believe me — your letter or phonecall to your legislator is 100 times more powerful than anything that a lobbyist in Washington, DC can do. Let’s win more community radio stations for all of us — today — by asking our Senators and Congressmembers to cosponsor the Local Community Radio Act of 2007!



Play Ball: Responding to Nancy’s Post at Huffington
June 29, 2007, 4:44 am
Filed under: 'media reform', NCMR2007, radio, rants

So Nancy Scola wrote a really interesting post at the Huffington Post yesterday — all about talk radio and its relationship to the ownership infrastructure in our corporate media. On my way back from hanging out with the Future of Music Coalition and the wicked charming gentlemen of OK Go, who were stumping for low power FM radio on Capitol Hill and spending some quality time with Local Community Radio Act of 2007 sponsors Mr. Lee Terry and Mr. Mike Doyle, I wanted to comment there. Sadly the Huffington peeps only let you post 350 words at a time, and no room for links! Here’s my thoughts on the relationship between low power FM and opportunities for ‘progressive’ talkers to learn their trade and gain opportunities to succeed on the radio dial:

I really like the baseball metaphor here, Nancy. Let’s take it one step further: We don’t just need double and triple-A teams for progressive (and dare I say local?) talkers to hone their craft — we need Little League.

Cities and towns band around things like high school plays, public school and community sports, and city council meetings not because there’s nothing better to watch on HBO or because there isn’t an arena rock concert or Broadway-caliber show in town. We get a chance to celebrate, appreciate and learn from our neighbors in the most vital ways when we wholeheartedly support their political, athletic, and creative work. Municipalities, local businesses, and churches fund enterprises like this because they are the lifeblood of healthy communities — and when personal or community-wide crises strike, relationships built on the bleachers at the soccer field or in the pews at church end up saving lives.

This is why we need to expand low power FM radio — now, today. Low power FM (LPFM) radio stations are broadcasting in over 800 communities across the United States. They serve broadcast ranges of about 5 miles, at 100 watts, with noncommercial content, always licensed to local nonprofit organizations. From Radio Free Moscow in Moscow, Idaho, to Radio Bird Street in Oroville, California, to the Historic Radio Museum of Ligonier, Indiana, to Portsmouth Community Radio in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to La Voz de la Gente of Woodburn, Oregon, to the Black Chamber of Commerce’s station in Sacramento to WRFU in Urbana, Illinois, and beyond — local radio stations are reflecting, involving, and improving the daily discourse in their local communities. (Notice how these stations are thriving in communities where conservative talk has an unquestioned iron grip on the airwaves?)

(In some cases — like Immokalee, Florida and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi — these stations save lives — because they are run by volunteers, able to stay on the air through terrible hurricanes and storms, and deeply relevant to their local communities, so the go-to place to turn for local emergency information.)

Without a healthy distribution of high school and college radio stations, these venues are often the only places where a young hotshot can learn to handle a mic as well as to handle a well-turned phrase. If Clear Channel and their ilk dominate the hiring and training process of new talk radio show hosts, producers, and corporate domineers, then it is deeply unlikely that our young Future Talkers of America, whatever their political stripes, will find a place to shine in their chosen career.

Our friends at the National Association of Broadcasters — the lobbying group that represents the consolidated broadcasters who have killed progressive talk — have deeply limited low power FM radio to only the most rural areas, convincing Congress in 2000 that these stations could interfere with full power broadcasts if packed onto the radio dial. Even though the FCC designed the program to serve cities too, and for low power FM radio in America’s big cities and suburbs, as well as small, rural communities, Congress has not moved to expand low power FM to the thousands of places that need it.

Luckily, Congressman Lee Terry (R-NE) and Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA) just joined Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), John McCain (R-AZ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in cosponsoring the Local Community Radio Act of 2007 — HR 2802, and S 1675. This bill would bring LPFM to almost every major American city, and to hundreds, if not thousands, of other communties.

I want to turn around in 20 years and see vital debate on the airwaves, telling local, regional, and national stories with passion. As Anthony Riddle of the Alliance for Community Media said at this year’s National Conference for Media Reform (and I paraphrase) — if we train a generation of youth to understand that the airwaves belong to them — and we hand them a microphone so they can learn to effect change in their communities — they will expect the next generation of communications infrastructure to be theirs, and in the service of diverse local needs, first and foremost. They will not understand why it should be any other way.

You can call your Congressmembers, and ask them to cosponsor the Local Community Radio Act, by getting started at prometheusradio.org or at Free Press’ great site. Or sign your name to expandlpfm.org.

It’s a small step — but it’s one key tool we need in the fight for more voices on our airwaves. Play ball!



Kenya Reportback
March 7, 2007, 1:54 am
Filed under: kenya, radio, rants, the revolution

All the members of the Prometheus delegation to Nairobi and Kisumu met up tonight at the home of the inimitable Jay Sand, to report to a small but engaged crowd on our Kenya trip. It was difficult to string together the experiences we had, how we felt about them, and to draw conclusions. So we didn’t do that. Instead we talked pretty stream of consciousness, but by sitting together, and by including new voices and interested parties in the conversation, we were able to draw some conclusions. As long as drawing conclusions doesn’t mean that we are wrapping up our experiences in a tight bow and putting them in a drawer, I am okay with that.

I talked about Safi and Faridah (Faridah in background to left, Safi with the mic), two of the women I felt closest two during my time in Nairobi, at the convergence space for the IMC, south of the city in the tree-lined, gated Karen suburb. Both of these women are mothers, living in Kampala, Uganda. They took over three weeks to come to Nairobi. They both learned a huge amount and taught so much more. Tonight I tried to think about and speak about -why- they came to Nairobi. I don’t have a big answer to that but the confusion around it felt pretty real.

The Uganda delegation to the Independent Media Center convergence in Nairobi consisted of a tight group of folks, all of whom were youth organizers with a group in Kampala called Mission for Youth Rights. I was never clear how they found out about the convergence in Nairobi, but I am very glad to have met them and to have learned from them during the weeks we were together.

Were Safi, Farida, and their allies and friends there to build a larger African Independent Media Center network? Were they there to learn technical skills and resources, and to practice teaching them? Both? What personal goals did they bring? I remember Safi pushing hard for us to make certificates proving that everyone had been there, and I couldn’t understand who would sign them. It wouldn’t be the Prometheus organizers, so I made slots for everyone at the event to sign them, including (and especially) Kennedy and John, local Kenya IMC founders who contributed to our gathering by handling a ton of the food logistics, and by lending incredible insight in our meetings, discussions, and private conversations.

It’s an issue of resources, for sure, and we started to talk about that tonight. When tools like computers, minidisc recorders, transmitter kits, internet access, soldering irons, even electrical power, are scarce, you can’t necessarily depend on the solidarity that comes by working with these tools to well up in the same way. Different kinds of solidarity — perhaps more mindful ones — come with direct conversations about why people come together to work, and conversations about what work is possible without ready access to technical tools.

The thinkings on Kenya tonight are matched by a nice article in the Philadelphia Weekly , accompanied by amazing photos by Prometheus volunteer and ally JJ Tiziou. I’m pretty happy with the article and grateful to George for sharing the stories of the trip and the Kenyan and other African colleagues we met with the world, but I regret not pushing to get more voices from our travellers in the article. Also, while Suad did a ton of work with the transmitter, many many other folks (like Andy) taught many other skills. A really cool technically minded guy named Job did a lot of work on that transmitter as well. I was just taken aback with Suad’s thirst for learning, her incredible skill on the transmitter (most of her solder joints were really clean and workable rather than broken) and also with her passion for radio as an appropriate and necessary technology for the community where she’s from, in Somalia. I hope we can work more with her someday…



Sour Grapes from the National Association of Broadcasters
February 23, 2007, 10:12 am
Filed under: fcc, rants

Dennis Wharton and other staffers at my favorite organization, the National Association of Broadcasters, are asking the Federal Communications Commission to make sure that the comments they hear at their current round of official ownership hearings are “verifyably local“. They want all attendees of these rare and valuable hearings to identify what city and state they are from before they offer their two minutes of testimony before the FCC.

As I get ready to run out the door to listen to communities from all across Pennsylvania offer their evidence that consolidation hurts our cities and towns in Harrisburg, the one thing I can think is — bring it on. I think the FCC would be pretty impressed to hear how many people drove, flew, or hitchiked in to give two minutes of testimony to a team of regulators sitting on a high stage at the front of the room. And, I must correct you, Mr. Wharton:

“I was at the Nashville media ownership hearing and there were people from St. Louis and Cincinnati complaining about local media,” said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton. “That suggests to us that there is something curious about these so-called localism hearings.”

These aren’t the localism hearings — Chairman Powell started to organize those, and fell off around the same time as his Commission started researching the drastic decline in diverse raido station ownership. These are official hearings meant to impact Docket 06-121 — also known as the Quadrennial Review of the Media Ownership Rules . Whether you are from Honolulu or Harrisburg, the facts and anecdotes you offer from your life and your local community are the pieces the FCC is obligated to consider when they decide whether or not to deregulate the media. Every story is valid. If the FCC wants to organize a hearing in Honolulu, I am sure we’ll hear more about the local market there, but I am also sure that NAB suits and other industry lawyers will fly in to listen, monitor, and pat their consolidated members on the back before they fly home.



First Post (On The Way To) Memphis
January 11, 2007, 10:44 pm
Filed under: 'media justice', 'media reform', NCMR2007, rants

I’m writing this from the last leg of a seventeen hour drive to Memphis, Tennessee, haven’t slept much, so this is rougher than I’d like and might get some edits later on! Prometheus, at this point in the game, has developed some expertise in loading a van with gear, volunteers, and enough of a good attitude to get us where we are going. Usually we’re trucking one or two vans worth of radical radio experts to one of our barnraisings, where we build an entire radio station over the course of a three day weekend. This time around we’re headed to the National Conference for Media Reform.

What is a conference, exactly? If my rudimentary Latin doesn’t fail me, it’s an opportunity to confer — to talk to fellow travellers, people with different kinds of knowledge, about problems, how to solve them.

I know I have a lot to learn, and that many of the people that I want to learn from will be travelling to Memphis with the same hope.

When I look forward from my cramped corner at the back of the van and ask people in the van what they’re interested in doing, it’s everything and anything from spreading the word about independent films, to getting the word out about the last chance in a generation that we’ll have to build our own full power radio stations in the USA. Others will be focused on defending and protecting their public access TV stations, or holding local corporate media accountable to youth and to people of color.

I’m always really struck by the deep and broad literacy that many of the activists I meet hold on a deep diversity of issues under the media reform umbrella. When we woke up from our fitful upright naps, squished between boxes of information about full power FM and sleeping bags and irregularly shaped Tupperwares of baba ghanouj, we stopped at a truck stop for breakfast. I spent a lot of time talking to Howard, who had just returned from Jordan, where he and his wife worked with the Prometheus delegation to build radio stations with a women’s community center. Over weirdly sweet sourdough bread and eggs, he argued fluently for net neutrality, solar powered Wi-Max wireless infrastructure in Sierra Leone, and the nefarious history of the founding of the FCC. Howard is multifaceted — on the surface, I might think he would not be at home at a power lunch or a media convergence space, but it’s his fluency and ability to cross-reference in many issues that makes him so valuable as a colleague, and just the kind of person that I hope many people want to meet in Memphis.

This weekend in Memphis, in the background of the essential and huge debates on stopping the consolidation of media ownership, will be a quiet and insistent conversation on the last frontiers of open spectrum in the United States, and how important it is for the grassroots and the policy shapers to come together to claim that territory for the American people. Presenting on over a dozen panels will be pioneers and architects of media justice and media accountability, looking for allies and backup for their incredibly successful work taking down the corporate media that marginalizes their communities.

If we approach this conference with a lot of hope and with open minds, we’ll have the chance to build relationships that bridge distances. Lots of different kinds of distances, like the geography between San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Nashville, and all the way to and beyond Washington DC. I also want to think about what sometimes seems like the insurmountable distances between organizing strategies, different pieces of this movement. Maybe if we treat everyone like experts — pirate radio operators working in Springfield, Illinois, and policy crafters from across the Atlantic — we’ll be able to prioritize and strategize better, together, to win in all the ways we want and need to win.



consequences of the corporate media blackout
November 7, 2006, 5:28 am
Filed under: 'media justice', 'media reform', fcc, rants, the revolution

The Federal Communications Commission has just collected its first round of comments on its most recent set of proposed rules attempting to consolidate media ownership. Comments are coming in from all over the place. You can do a quick scan for yourself by visiting the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System, inputting 06-121 as the docket number, and then get ready to review the over 120,000 comments available on the docket.

I am very glad that I am taking the time tonight to read through a smattering, just some of these comments, because spending time with the voices of the mothers and fathers, musicians and laborers, all these people who are writing in to the FCC, and taking the time to write personal (sometimes handwritten!) comments — is reminding me of one more reason why I continue to be passionate about this work to change our media system.

Just before Halloween, an independent media journalist named Brad Will, working with the New York City Indymedia Center, was murdered by paramilitaries in Oaxaca City. I found out when I got a call from an old friend, an independent media organizer in San Diego, who asked me if I knew any radio stations I could call to get the word out about this terrible and sad event.

At the time I was backstage, volunteering for an amazing pro-choice haunted house/benefit for the Philadelphia Women’s Medical Fund. I couldn’t leave, couldn’t jump online to try to help in whatever limited way I could, so I started text messaging anyone I knew with a connection to a community radio station, or with a press list they could hit.

Many, many Indymedia organizers began coordinating together to fight what they knew would come — the misrepresentation of not just Brad’s murder, but the misrepresentation of the context of why he was killed, and the stories and messages of the organizers and community members in Oaxaca who had been fighting for so long.

Reporters like Romero, author of the article in the last link, seems to be one of, if not the most prolifically disseminated reporter on Oaxaca in both local and national papers in America. A recent search shows communities in Lawrence as well as Olberlin, Kansas; Houston, Texas; rural New Mexico; not to mention Miami, Florida and North Dakota.

Why are these papers all using the same news feed? Because consolidation has forced them to shrink their newsrooms. (Notice the similarities in the style of our hometown New Mexico and North Dakota papers?) Why does it matter to the community members struggling in Oaxaca that our media is consolidating? Because the world depends on an accountable and diverse news media to fight to tell all sides to a story, and no matter what former FCC Chairman Michael Powell might say about the powers of the internet to disseminate information, most people in the United States and around the world are reading the corporate media’s — Rebeca Romero’s — version of why thousands of Oaxacans were encamped in the Zocalo, rather than listening to Radio Appo, for example, which offers up-to-the-second reporting from the streets of Oaxaca, or following the reports from Indymedia itself, which has provided a backbone of excellent reporting for so many struggles, for so many years.

I found this very recent editorial by Mary Sanchez , lambasting response to the media’s coverage of Brad Will. I couldn’t find it anywhere else but the Mercury News, a paper that will lose at least 47 newsroom positions now that it has been acquired by the Media Group. Newspapers, radio stations, and many more media outlets in the United States are poised to suffer deep job cuts if the next round of consolidation goes through. If the United States media consolidates further, for so many millions, and for the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca, it will be that much harder to speak to a global public that can levy the pressure necessary to support popular movements, and to bring those who commit atrocities to justice.

I should have written about this weeks ago, but here at the Prometheus Radio Project we’ve been pretty busy with some things (most notably the full power FM window — also known as the last time in a generation that social justice groups will be able to apply for their own radio stations). We want to work with all of you to help thousands of independent groups apply for their own radio stations this spring, because each new station is a victory not just for our local stories in America, but stories that are fighting for our solidarity from all over the world.

I don’t have the expertise to offer an accurate critique of the consolidated-media reporting around the struggle in Oaxaca — and many others are already doing an amazing job at that. But if you live in the United States, you can take the time to write a comment to the FCC, and tell them that there’s more at stake than profits, contour maps, vertical or horizontal integration at stake as they set up these new rules. As is always the case with our freedom of speech, lives are on the line.

You can send your comments to the FCC here — http://www.stopbigmedia.com.



The FCC Needs A Better Paper Shredder, Please Send In Your Comments Engraved on Sheet Metal Or Something
September 19, 2006, 3:53 pm
Filed under: fcc, radio, rants

As anyone with a passing familiarity with me, this blog, or Prometheus Radio Project likely knows by now, the Federal Communications Commission was caught hiding some research that we would have loved to have seen in 2003, or anytime after the FCC closed its public comment window on whether or not they should consolidate media ownership in the United States. The FCC, anytime between 2003 and today, could have released two studies that were conducted by staff at the Commission — one that demonstrates that locally owned TV stations devote an additional 20 to 25 percent of their newscasts to local news stories than stations owned by distant conglomerates — and another that shows how sharply the number of individual radio station owners fell when Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, widely seen as the most recent and most drastic cause of a paucity of decency, localism, and simple, traditional journalism in American broadcast media.

Why didn’t the FCC, under former Chairman Michael Powell and under current Chariman Kevin Martin, release these studies? Because they demonstrate clearly what Powell and Martin have tried hard to disprove to the courts and Congress (though not to the American people — that when local communities lose local control of their media outlets, their access to the basic tools of democracy falls to the floor.

That’s not a new message — over three million people told the commission, in detail, how deeply it would suck if Clear Channel owned all the stations in their town. Not only would access to our own city councils, schools, and churches dwindle, but our neighbors would lose their jobs, coverage of issues of interest to various minority groups would get a lot worse, and in the event of a disaster, diverse local coverage would become even less local and more consolidated.

Today, Martin finally bent to Boxer’s pressure, ordering a formal study into why the internal reports were shredded, but my instinct is that we should push for a lot more. I’ve been scrabbling with incredible local groups in Senate Commerce districts, groups like Reclaim the Media, in the heart of Seantor Maria Cantwell’s district, to see if any Senators who voted against the poorly-argued and widely-reviled media ownership consolidation package in 2003 would also vote to hold Martin’s renomination until he committed to much more than an official internal study as to why the reports were deep-sixed.

My thinking is this. For low power FM radio, community advocates, churches, civil rights groups, and more had to wait over three years for a study — an independent study commissioned -by- the FCC rather than conducted internally — to clear the way for more low power FM radio stations to be built in America’s big cities, where the broadcast lobby has successfully forbidden them for over six years, despite pressure from the Commission itself and an overwhelming amount of evidence that there is plenty of room for LPFM. We have to battle in Congress now to expand low power FM to America’s big cities, but in the scheme of things, undoing the congressional restriction on LPFM is just a matter of time, because we have an independent study conducted by a third party proving we are right, and thousands of community organizations lined up and fighting for their voice on the airwaves.

What would the same strategy look like for media ownership? We could freeze the media ownership proceeding almost indefinitely if we were waiting for an independent government contractor like MITRE to study the impacts of ownership. This would open a huge amount of time for community members to comment, for local economic studies to be produced and filed onto the docket as well — evidence which is infinitely more valuable not just on the ownership docket but for us as a movement, as we will hear from more and more of our communities the longer they have an official opportunity to make an impact.

In my opinion, the time is ripe to ask for an independent study, conducted by a third party organization, taking as long as necessary to get us guidelines for future regulation of media ownership. If we ask the Senate and the House to force the FCC to commission an independent study on the effects of consolidation — just like Congress did for low power FM — we might change how the FCC regulates media ownership, perhaps breaking the back of the recent trend towards deregulation, consolidation, and a shut-down of community voices.

Because we happen to be right in this case — because whatever evidence the industry tosses onto the record is likely to be baseless and hollow — I don’t see why we wouldn’t want the proceeding to take 2-3 years — as long as it takes the FCC to commission an independent study of
consolidation’s true effects.

While this is going on, and because we now have an extra month to file comments on the current media ownership proceeding (until December 21st), we need to be pushing to make sure that as many comments as possible get into this docket. One way that Prometheus discussed in its recent statement on the last shredded study that came to light was to make sure that the brilliant, diverse, and evidence-heavy comments filed onto the FCC’s localism docket are combined with the media ownership docket of 2006. As the lawyers at the Media Access Project always tell us — the FCC and the laywers representing us can always use clear stories describing how consolidation impacted their communities to push for specific rule changes. The localism docket is packed with comments like that, from Hawaii to Maine.

I heard a rumour that the long-overdue FCC cable ownership proceeding would be included in the current package of broadcast ownership rules the FCC is looking at on 06-121. That means that the testimony being collected by projects like Free the Flyers (by my friend Josh Breitbart) which is gathering microlocal information about how cable consolidation is hurting people in Philadelphia, my hometown, could impact how the FCC regulates cable here and around the country, if it is submitted to the Commission. Other powerful projects like Youth Media Council’s community review of KMEL, the People’s Station, and the media monitoring of the Media Empowerment Project‘s initiatives in North Carolina, Detroit, and San Antonio, could give the FCC the wherewithal to change how the market looks in those communities, just by the FCC taking the data that their communities have already gathered into account.

I feel like these reports, buried by the Commission but coming to light just as they try again to prove the impossible — are tools that our movement can’t afford to wield incorrectly, and without the full brunt of our power behind them. Stay tuned…




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