Boston Globe Article on Grassroots Community Radio Initiative

September 27, 2007

In today’s Globe, Clea Simon writes

How does someone start a radio station? And why would anyone want to? These are the questions that community activist Grace Ross and radio journalists David Goodman and John Grebe have been asking themselves since last spring.

Next month along with other colleagues as members of the Grassroots Community Radio Initiative, they’ll be filing papers with the Federal Communications Commission. This is the first step of a lengthy application process, but only the latest development in what has become an ongoing project.”

Read the article here.

To learn more about this process, visit GetRadio.org.


Take Action to Support Independent Media

July 12, 2007

From Free Press:

Save Small and Independent Publishers

“Postal regulators have accepted a proposal from media giant Time Warner that would stifle small and independent publishers in America. The plan unfairly burdens smaller publishers with higher postage rates while locking in special privileges for bigger media companies.

In establishing the U.S. postal system, the nation’s founders wanted to ensure that a diversity of viewpoints were available to ‘the whole mass of the people.’ Time Warner’s rate increase reverses this egalitarian ideal and threatens the marketplace of ideas on which our democracy depends.

It’s time stand up for independent media. Demand that Congress step in to stop the unfair rate hikes. Sign the letter below to alert Congress and put the Postal Board of Governors on notice.


Channel One News?

October 22, 2006

Media Education Foundation writes:

“On, Tues. Oct. 17, the Knight Foundation granted Channel One a $2.25 million to teach teens about the personal freedoms guaranteed them by America’s First Amendment.

MEF (the Media Education Foundation), ACME (the Action Coalition for Media Education), and other media education organizations question whether Channel One is the appropriate organization to do this education. MEF is streaming a section of their film, “Captive Audience: Advertising Invades the Classroom” below to help educate about Channel One.”

Play Video

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Community Media Documentary Released from The Center for Social Media

August 21, 2006

The Center for Social Media at American University has released a 17 minute documentary produced by Martin Lucas. The video takes “viewers to three different cities where communities are using media to promote workers rights, empower voters, and fill cracks in the social welfare system.”

“Focusing on Chicago’s CAN-TV, Brooklyn’s BCAT and DCTV’s work with the Edgewood Terrace project in Washington D.C.’s Northeast, the video features interviews with community and labor activists, as well as community media professionals including Greg Boozell of CAN-TV, Jessica Venegas of Community Preservation and Development Corporation and Carlos Pareja of Brooklyn’s BCAT.

The video examines details of community media outreach from a media center point of view as well as asking how and why community organizations are taking up media tools in these three cities.”

Watch the documentary here.


Can You Hear Us Now, Verizon?

August 17, 2006

After attending a public comment hearing whose standing room only crowd testified from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., it’s expected that one will be exposed to quite a range of perspectives. And for many different reasons, and a lot of the same, a strong and unmistakable majority (49 to 8 public speakers, at my count) of the voices present rang together in strong opposition to Verizon’s appeal to plow into Massachusetts as cable providers without having to follow the longstanding rules that other providers had to meet upon entering towns.

The Cable Division of the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy met yesterday to discuss Verizon’s proposal to limit a local municipality’s ability to negotiate cable franchising agreements to a mere, and alarmingly dismissive, 90 days. In the 90 days, Verizon suggests, a town should be able to navigate the complex legal licencising process, ascertain the needs of the town, and negotiate Public Educational and Government (PEG) TV channel rights.

While Verizon representatives spoke first in a challenge to Massachusetts towns, who they claim have a “bureaucratic resistance to change,” town and city representatives, board of selectpersons members, cable advisory committee volunteers and PEG channel producers and executives from across the state followed with compelling stories to counter Verizon’s proposal.

The franchising negotiation process “is not like buying a copier for town hall,” one speaker remarked. Towns need the ability to hold cable providers accountable to their individual needs, and 90 days is insufficient time to complete all of the work necessary in recognizing what is fair to request of a massive corporation who will be using public rights of way for their own profit.

Towns such as Canton, Lexington and Westboro spoke of their current negotiations with Verizon, all far more than 90 days in. They told horror stories about Verizon’s reluctance to have open communication, the inflexibility they face from Verizon in negotiations, and Verizon’s habit of straying from the honored and recognized definitions of technical terms and language. The time it is taking to reach agreement, the towns argue, has been exaggerated due to Verizon’s lack of effort, not theirs.

Other towns, such as Northampton and Peabody, spoke to the strong desire to have Verizon enter into their towns as cable service providers. Verizon, however, hasn’t moved forward in consideration of the towns.

Cambridge Community Television and The Lowell Telecommunications Corporation, among others, gave forceful testimony from a PEG channel perspective. Were it not for the town’s ability to properly negotiate for station rights, the diverse and local programming that can be found on the channels – and nowhere else on television – would not be possible. In Massachusetts, PEG channels are vibrant and valued in their communities; many at the hearing noted that their success is in great part to the strong provisions that have been put into the town’s cable franchising agreement, and to the state’s policy that provides them the opportunity to fight for their needs. As the corporate media continues to chase profitable programming at the expense of invested and important information, the voices heard on local outlets must be supported and strengthened, not stifled.

Support for Verizon didn’t come cheap at the hearing; nor can it even be taken at face value. It’s no surprise that those speaking on behalf of Verizon’s proposed rule change have histories working for, or have been financially sponsored by, Verizon. Washington D.C.’s American Consumers Institute, a group made in part of telecommunication industry consultants who bill themselves as an independent consumer organization, showed up to suggest that the “pet projects” for which towns negotiate were unmerited or undeserved. Meanwhile, The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) allowed for money to mire their long-term interests that align with an ability to negotiate for adequate resources for their constituencies. LULAC has been sponsored by Verizon in the past and The NAACP’s current national president is a former president of Verizon’s retail division. The Metrowest Chamber of Commerce and The International Brotherhood of Electrical workers also spoke in support of the proposals on the grounds that Verizon will bring jobs to Massachusetts, but it begs the question: for every job that Verizon creates, how many are lost to other cable companies? How many would be lost to all of the other industries whose practices – theoretically left unchecked due to a muting of PEG channel ability should Verizon get its way – indiscriminately shrink work forces?

The tremendous turnout at the hearing speaks to the importance of this issue, and demonstrates that cities and towns are not willing to allow for Verizon to enter their communities without properly negotiating the agreement. The Department of Telecommunications and Energy respectfully listened to the hours of strong testimony in opposition to Verizon’s request, and now it will be the true test of their intentions as they move forward. Will they take vote in support of a giant corporation’s interest, or will they do the right thing and put the interests of the public first?
Visit the DTE’s website to read Verizon’s proposed rule and to learn more. As well, as of next week, transcriptions from the hearing will become public record and will be available at the DTE’s offices.


Citizen Journalism “Unconference” August 7, 2006

July 28, 2006

Center for Citizen Media “Unconference”

August 7, 2006
9 am – 4pm
Harvard Law School, Pound Hall

On August 7, Berkman Center fellow and Center for Citizen Media director Dan Gillmor will host a day of discussion on citizen media at Harvard Law School. The purpose is to brainstorm some key aspects of citizen journalism, including principles, techniques, tools, business models and more. The conference will be in the “unconference” format, where the audience are the experts and there are no formal panels, but rather skilled moderators and session leaders drawing out what we collectively know so we can learn from each other.

Moderators include Steve Garfield, Andrew Lih, Phil Malone, Tom Stites, Lisa Williams, and Ethan Zuckerman.

The gathering will take place at Harvard Law School’s Pound Hall, beginning at 9 a.m. and finishing at around 4 p.m. We’ll also plan to have birds-of-a-feather dinners in Cambridge, most likely hosted by several speakers, for those who want to stick around. The cost of the day is $20 at the door, to cover food costs (we’ll provide morning coffee, lunch and an afternoon snack). Registration is limited to 100 people, so sign up today!

More information: http://wikimania2006.wikimedia.org/wiki/Citizen_Journalism
To Register: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/home/rsvp_cmunconference-08-07


Pirate Radio USA

July 25, 2006

Check out the US Premiere of the feature documentary, Pirate Radio USA at the Woods Hole Film Festival, on Monday July 31 at 9:00PM at the Old Woods Hole Firehouse.

The film will also be screened at the Rhode Island International Film Festival on August 10 at 9:00PM at Cinematheque (at the Columbus Theatre) in Providence.

SYNOPSIS:

DJ’s Him and Her, from their live Pirate Radio USA Studio, take you on a rock –n-roll journey inside rogue radio stations across the country to see why Americans defy Federal Law to free the radio airwaves.

On the way see the rise of Big Media, the growth of Citizen Media to encounter it, and witness their showdown over the truth during the 1999 World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle.

To view a trailer, go to www.pirateradiousa.com