Feeding the Fire – Congress Steps Up to Slow Down the FCC

When news of FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s plan to push through sweeping changes in media ownership rules broke on Capitol Hill, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) predicted that there would be “a firestorm of protest,” and promised that he “would be carrying the wood.”

He has not had to carry the wood alone, however. A number of members of Congress have stepped forward to feed the fire, each calling on the FCC to rethink their process, listen to the public, and address the paltry state of female and minority ownership before considering any rule changes. Continue reading

Chicago Citizens in Their Own Words

Too often, in the reporting of any big event, the tendency is to equate success with numbers. How many people attended? How many hours did they stay? How many speeches did they give? For the Chicago FCC hearing on media ownership on Sept. 20, such numbers tell a powerful story about the ways in which media consolidation have left local communities in the dark, pushed off the dial and out of the picture.

More than 800 people attended the hearing, held at Rainbow PUSH headquarters on Chicago’s South Side, and 200 people signed up to give testimony. Average citizens took time off from work to stand in line, some as early as 9 am, and many stayed until the event ended at almost 2 a.m. the next morning. Of the seven hours of public testimony, a vast majority of the public called on the FCC to stop Big Media from getting any bigger. Continue reading

Jesse Jackson Pushes FCC on Minority Ownership

Late last week the Rainbow Push Coalition hosted a sold-out media and telecommunications symposium in Washington DC. The event brought together federal policymakers, media industry leaders, issue activists, academics and consumers to assess the future of American media. With a focus on the areas of broadband deployment, minority ownership, public broadcasting, and the representation of minorities in the media, the participants of the event made it clear that we are facing both a crisis and a set of exciting opportunities to foster a more local, diverse, and competitive media system. Continue reading

The FCC’s Forgotten Mandate

In a report released yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that the FCC consistently leaks vital information to corporate lobbyists and Big Media stakeholders, giving them a leg up on sensitive votes and rules. Industry representatives admitted to the GAO that they had been given key confidential information before critical votes. In contrast, the representatives of consumer and public interest groups were consistently left out of the loop. This insider knowledge allows industry reps to meet with FCC staff to lobby their position before major decisions are made, while the public is left in the dark. Continue reading

Pumpkin Harvest

PumpkinsThe farm was quiet at nine-thirty on this Saturday morning in late September. Sun crept in through the open barn doors like the tide coming in. Inside, the air was still cool and moist from the night before. The wood of the barn, just built the season before, was still yellow as though freshly cut and hewn from the tree. The week’s harvest was arranged around the base of the barn’s big center beams, as if to remind us what it takes to build a barn, a community, a farm. With the crisp morning air, and the rich hues of the vegetables spread out there, Erica and I could not help being reminded of our recent entry in to autumn. Here in New England, the vegetables change color before the leaves do. The bright yellow peppers, orange carrots, purple eggplants, white leeks, yellow corn, and green cucumbers, of the early summer have been replaced by maroon onions, burgundy potatoes, olive colored squash, and violet beets, all caked with dark earth. Erica and I gathered our share, noting that these late season vegetables weigh much more than their predecessors, and discuss what we can store in our basement, what we will have to pickle, and what we will eat during the week ahead. The canvass bags on our shoulders, bulging at the seams, smelled strongly of dirt and veggies.
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