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The new Digital Crossroads debuted Monday on RadioBoise.org at 7:30pm.

Radioactive Gavin and Gordon Fuller

Radioactive Gavin and Gordon Fuller

Gordon Fuller advocates for people with disabilities as VP of global business development for Disability Relations Group, representing government agencies, non-profits & corporations. He serves on the Idaho State Independent Living Council – working on disability policy and legislative issues as the Chairman of the State Outreach Committee. He’s working on Idaho’s Disability History Month – every October – and he’s Executive Producer for the Disability Media Initiative or DMI, connecting America with disabled perspectives through social networking. A proud supporter of the Internet for Everyone campaign, Gordon and I talk about his projects, his experience with bias and oblivious reporters, and what the Obama/Biden administration could mean for representation of disabled persons.

To download or stream the entire show, CLICK HERE.

Gordon Fuller supports Internet for Everyone

Gordon Fuller supports Internet for Everyone

Music on the show by Ooah, Ernest Gonzales, and The Tasteful Nudes. Digital Crossroads airs on Boise Community Radio and Radio Free Moscow.

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In an unusual live Wednesday morning broadcast, I finally produced the 2nd episode of Digital Crossroads of the year. I’ve been reading and highlighting and writing about Gaza. This show is about thinking critically before you trust what you read in the news.

Funeral at UN school struck by Israel

Funeral at UN school struck by Israel

Below you can click to listen to the 30-minute show as it aired on Boise Community Radio and Radio Free Moscow. If you make it all the way through the show, please check out the additional 10 minutes I did live this morning on RadioBoise.org covering Obama’s support from the “defense lobby” as well as reports inside Gaza. Hear from Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian human rights activist, and from Sameh Habeb, a Palestinian photographer. More links and photos after the jump.

To download or stream the show, click here- Gaza: Wake Up America (mp3)

Check out an additional 10 minutes here- DC 2009 B-Side (mp3)

In a story published Jan. 9th by Alternet from New America Media, Shane Bauer covers “What You’d Know About Israel if you Watched Al Jazeera TV.”

He writes, the 350 reporters who descended on Israel when the conflict began are stuck at the border between Israel and Gaza. Instead of giving their viewers up-close pictorial evidence of what is occurring in Gaza, television networks have been restricted to showing their viewers plumes of smoke as they rise in the distance.

“There is nowhere safe in Gaza,” an enraged John Ging, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza told Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros in front of the Al Shifa hospital Thursday. Those words came after the Israeli Defense Forces bombed a UN school that was being used as a refuge. Later in the day, a second UN school was struck by the Israelis, killing at least 40. Ging insisted, “Everyone here is terrorized and traumatized and they have the right to be because there is no safe haven… This violence needs to stop now. Neither side can wait for the other to stop first.”

Meanwhile the world’s only live coverage of the tragedy is kept away from American eyes. While Al Jazeera English competes with CNN and BBC as one of the largest networks in the world, no major American cable provider has been willing to carry the channel since it launched in 2006. But Al Jazeera is finding its way around the problem. Today, Americans can download Livestation, a free program that wil let viewers watch Al Jazeera English and other international networks.

Here’s a timeline looking back at news you likely haven’t seen if you have depended on US network TV and corporate newspapers over the past 2 weeks…

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The first Digital Crossroads of the year premiered Monday evening on Boise Community Radio. Listen to host and producer Radioactive Gavin focus on Fake News and Propaganda.

Download or stream the entire 30-minute program by clicking here… Digital Crossroads Fake News and Propaganda.

To view the spoof New York Times, go HERE.

If you want to hear the entire interview with Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men, click HERE.

To view the Indecision 2008 video, go HERE.

Music on the show is used with permission from Ooah, The Tasteful Nudes, Ocote Soul Sounds & Adrian Quesada, and Ernest Gonzales.

Here is the transcript for Digital Crossroads 2009 Episode 1:

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Download or stream HERE the Digital Crossroads originally airing 11/14/08.

The Alliance for Community Media West held its annual conference in Denver, Colorado in late October. Denver Open Media hosted the festivities. Digital Crossroads takes you there, with clips recorded on site. Today’s show is an examination of the relevance of community media and the value of youth media literacy.

Denver Open Media is unique. According to Executive Director Tony Shawcross, featured toward the end of the show, on their main channel content might air ten times, but at Denver Open Media viewers can vote as they watch and on the website. The material that is most popular airs on the highlights channel, Channel 57.

Much of the discussion at this year’s conference drove home the point that Public, Educational & Government access or PEG channels must be thinking of ways to modernize. The idea of Cable Access 2.0 is a serious attempt by community television to stay relevant.

Free Speech TVFree Speech TV CEO Dennis Moynihan makes a lunch time presentation, highlighting many programs carried by cable access stations, including his former employer Democracy Now. ACM Western Region Board Chair J Robertson watches the clip.

Today’s show features audio clips from Daniel Weinshenker, who hosted a 90-minute presentation called Digital Storytelling. You can download or stream my audio recording of his entire presentation by clicking HERE. He is director of the Denver office of the non-profit Center for Digital Storytelling.

You will also hear from youth working in access media production. Plus, staff members from Denver Open Media discuss youth media literacy and Glam Camp, the teen girl multimedia production camp.

Beth McConnellBeth McConnell explained how policy advocacy can shape community media’s future. The Media & Democracy Coalition is made up of more than two dozen non-profits who are networking to change the media.

Music on this week’s show by Ooah, The Tasteful Nudes & Gabriel Teodros.

Ann TheisSpecial thanks to Ann Theis, who brings joy and dedication to Denver Open Media. Great people, great materials, great conference! My radio show is produced for Boise Community Radio, KRFP Moscow and other great non-commercial broadcasters. Contact me if you would like to hear the show on your local radio station.

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Digital Crossroads is a weekly radio show, now in its 3rd year, new every Friday.

Today, a look back at election day from a unique perspective. Marge Heins is a great writer and veteran attorney with real experience at the Supreme Court. Her book Not in Front of the Children is required reading if you want to know the modern history of American broadcast censorship. I spoke with her on the phone Wednesday November 5th, the day after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the FCC vs. Fox “fleeting expletives” case.

Hear her expert opinion about what the Supremes will decide and how it will affect free speech over the airwaves in America. Then stay tuned for a look at what we can expect from a Barack Obama administration’s technology policy, including who will be running the Federal Communications Commission next year. Plus at the end of the show, hear what Studs Terkel, who died October 31st at the age of 96, had to say about Obama.

Listen or download HERE. Edited for FM broadcast.

  • Bleeped from 3:05 to 3:10 “Fuck” “Shit”
  • Bleeped from 8:40 to 8:45 “Fucking Brilliant”
  • Bleeped from 9:30 to 9:45 “Bullshitter” “All Fucked Up”
  • Bleeped from 11 to 11:30 “Fuck Em” “Cow Shit” “Bullshit” “Bullshitter”

notinfrontofthechildrenMarjorie Heins is a lawyer, activist, writer, and founder of the Free Expression Policy Project. Heins founded and directed the Arts Censorship Project at the American Civil Liberties Union from 1991-1998 and was co-counsel on the ACLU’s Reno v. ACLU brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately led to striking the Communications Decency Act as an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

Here are some highlights from her great piece about her latest trip to the Supreme Court, published on the Free Expression Policy Project website…

Although Justices Roberts and Scalia dominated the November 4 argument, Justices David Souter and John Paul Stevens joined Justice Ginsburg in expressing skepticism about the fleeting expletives rule. Justice Stevens, the author of Pacifica 30 years ago, asked Acting Solicitor General Gregory Garre, who argued for the FCC, if the Commission takes into consideration whether the use of an expletive is funny. Garre repeated the FCC’s frequent litany about “context”: the agency takes everything into account – audience, time of time, whether the language was gratuitous or pandering. Scalia then quipped: “So a bawdy joke is okay if it’s really good?”

This led to a colloquy about what language, if any, would be more “shocking” to children. Garre asserted that the Cher and Richie comments were indecent because there is more harm to children when a celebrity says these words. Chief Justice Roberts agreed: according to him, this is very different from a soldier shouting expletives in Saving Private Ryan “when your head is being blown off.” Carter Phillips, arguing for Fox, seemed astounded, replying: “It can’t be that the FCC can determine that a child has a different reaction in the two situations.” And in response to a hypothetical in which Roberts seemed to think that a football player yelling expletives would be okay under the FCC’s “contextual” analysis, Phillips pointed out that football players are celebrities too.

Only Justice Ginsburg seemed in favor of addressing head-on the First Amendment problem with a government agency’s shifting, subjective, often whimsical censorship decisions. “This whole argument has an air of futility,” she told Garre. “The Second Circuit more than tipped its hand. Is there a way we can say this issue is before us now”; that we should not ignore “the elephant in the room”? Whether four other justices will agree with her remains to be seen, but Souter, Stevens, and Kennedy – the most likely votes for a free speech-friendly result – did not seem eager to reach the First Amendment question. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas said nothing at all.

The most likely outcome is a decision on the statutory issue only, either affirming or reversing the Second Circuit – that is, either deciding that the fleeting expletives rule was adequately justified or agreeing with the Second Circuit that it is “arbitrary and capricious,” and sending the case back to the agency for further deliberation. The latter result is in a sense the least palatable, because then the indecency regime as a whole would remain in effect indefinitely, while the FCC reconsiders its fleeting expletives rule.

A reversal on the statutory issue would give the Second Circuit an opportunity to transform its “dicta” into a holding that either the fleeting expletives rule or the entire indecency regime violates the First Amendment. This would almost surely be followed by a Supreme Court showdown on the issue.

But there is another possibility. An Obama administration could decide that it no longer makes sense to devote federal government resources to the FCC’s deliberations on whether American children need to be shielded from hearing an occasional “bullshit” or “fuck ’em” on network television.

cher

More about the Supreme Court election day expletives

Jess Bravin, Wall St. Journal:
Last year, a federal appeals court in New York struck down a 2004 Federal Communications Commission rule penalizing the broadcast of “fleeting expletives.” That court found the FCC had been “arbitrary and capricious” in abandoning its prior policy, under which it generally ruled that isolated vulgarisms weren’t enough to trigger the legal standard of indecency.

Chief Justice John Roberts asked how the FCC justified punishing some programs for airing a fleeting expletive, while clearing the CBS “Early Show” when it broadcast a vulgarism uttered by a reality-show contestant.

“The commission has determined that news programs would be treated differently,” Mr. Garre said, “because of the different values present in that situation.” For the same reason, he said the FCC wouldn’t punish broadcast of a news report on the Supreme Court argument itself, even if it included the words at issue.

Greg Stohr, Bloomberg:
Defenders of the FCC rule call it a needed step to combat a sharp increase in profanity on broadcast television. Just last week Philadelphia Phillies player Chase Utley, at a televised rally celebrating the team’s World Series victory, shouted, “World champions, world fucking champions.”

Dahlia Lithwick, Slate:
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at one point, observed that the whole case has an “air of futility” because, if the court just decides the narrow administrative issue, the First Amendment problem is still “the elephant in the room.”

Justice Ginsburg can’t understand why an expletive-rich broadcast of Saving Private Ryan was spared the FCC’s wrath while a program about the history of jazz was tagged for indecency. “There’s very little rhyme or reason which one of these words is OK and which isn’t,” she tuts.

Neither Scalia nor Roberts will accept the argument that there is some higher standard to be met for administrative regulation just because speech is involved.

It’s hard to say how this all shakes out. Three justices say very little. Two clearly favor granting the FCC even more standardless discretion. The rest keep offering peanuts to the elephant in the room. It’s a safe bet that the court will try to stick to the narrow administrative question, despite the justices’ itch to talk dirty. Mostly, though, it’s a bitterly disappointing day for those of us who’d looked forward to hearing some filthy words at the high court. But, having run the whole case through the FCC’s highly subjective, context-based smut filter, I did come up with the following list of dirty words from today’s arguments: Briefs. Golden globes. First blow. Dung. Pipeline. Jolly-woggle. Perhaps it’s true that the Supreme Court can take away our F-bomb. But they cannot touch our dirty, dirty minds.

11/4/08 Email to Common Cause Media Reform and other lists-
The Court was surprisingly unsympathetic to the broadcasters’ arguments that the FCC had been too aggressive and inconsistent in its new enforcement of the indecency rules. In particular, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia seemed completely unsympathetic to any argument that the FCC had overstepped its bounds. While there were a few concerns expressed about the inconsistency of the FCC’s decision, it didn’t seem to be swaying a majority of the court. So it seems that Martin’s regime might get upheld.

So, it is not a good day for those of us who have been concerned that whether you agree or disagree with the FCC’s decision to regulate indecency in the first place, the current regime has been unpredictable and threatening particularly for smaller broadcasters who can get caught by FCC’s new increased fines and vague standards. On the other hand, for everyone who was concerned that the Court could take this opportunity to undermine the constitutional justification for regulating broadcasting altogether, we will likely live to fight another day.

Of course, all of this is just a prediction based on oral argument and oral argument is never completely clear. The decision won’t likely come out until next year and, theoretically a decision could wait as long as the end of the term next summer. –Cheryl Leanza, Policy Director, United Church of Christ

Obama 2008
Obama Tech Policy in 2009

President-elect Barack Obama could name current Democratic FCC commissioners Jonathan Adelstein or Michael Copps to the position of the agency’s chairman. There has also been speculation he will name a chairman from outside the FCC, with the following names floating around: Julius Genachowski, Lawrence Strickling, Don Gips and Blair Levin. For the record, I’ve never heard of any of these men either.

There is a very interesting dynamic at the Federal Communications Commission right now, because of how the political appointments there work. Commissioner Adelstein and Republican commissioner Deborah Tate have not been reconfirmed by the Senate, even though their terms have expired. President Bush renominated both of them to five-year terms, forcing Democrats in the Senate to avoid voting before the August recess.

If Republican Chairman Kevin Martin opts not to retire, as chairmen customarily do when the Presidency changes parties, the Republicans would hold onto a three-member majority on the five-member commission. Obama names the new chairman either way, but holding off on Tate’s nomination assures Democrats of an immediate FCC majority next year.

In terms of policy, David Oxenford writes November 4th on Broadcast Law Blog Obama will likely deliver on his promise to appoint a Chief Technology Officer as a cabinet-level position to deal with technology and communications. Obama is also expected, Oxenford writes, “to look for ways to encourage minorities and other new entrants into broadcast ownership.” Oxenford also expects, “regulation that imposes some public interest obligations on broadcasters.”

President-elect Obama has named tech executives to his transition team, according to CNET. Julius Genachowski previously served as chief counsel to former Democratic FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, as well as working for InterActiveCorp, an investment firm and co-founding a venture capital organization. Sonal Shah works for the philanthropy division at Google.

CNET reporter Martin LaMonica writes November 5th that Obama is expected to be the first green high-tech president. Clean tech under Obama will include less controversial ideas such as:

  • An investment in upgrading the power grid which would make it easier to use solar and wind.
  • A national renewable portfolio standard that mandates utilities get 10 percent of electricity from solar, wind, or geothermal by 2012.
  • Continued support for biofuels and introduction of low-carbon fuel standard.
  • Increased fuel-efficiency standards and tax rebates for plug-in hybrids.

However Obama has also pledged some more controversial plans, namely:

  • A carbon cap-and-trade regime meant to make low-carbon technologies more price competitive.
  • Research on so-called clean coal technologies to store carbon dioxide emissions underground.

realchange
Democracy Now host Amy Goodman is skeptical about these and other Obama policy plans that could potentially bring huge profits to corporations. In her weekly syndicated column, entitled Organizer in Chief published November 6th by Truth Dig, Amy Goodman writes:

Before heading over to Grant Park in Chicago, Sen. Obama sent a note (texted and e-mailed) to millions of supporters. It read, in part: “We just made history. And I don’t want you to forget how we did it. … We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I’ll be in touch soon about what comes next.” But it isn’t enough for people now to sit back and wait for instructions from on high. It was 40 years ago in that very same place, Grant Park, that thousands of anti-war protesters gathered during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, demanding an end to the Vietnam War. Many from that generation now celebrate the election of an African-American president as a victory for the civil rights movement that first inspired them to action decades ago. And they celebrate the man who, early on, opposed the Iraq war, the pivotal position that won him the nomination, that ultimately led to his presidential victory.

Another son of Chicago, who died just days before the election, was oral historian and legendary broadcaster Studs Terkel. Amy writes, I visited him last year in their shared city. “The American public itself has no memory of the past,” he told her. “We forgot what happened yesterday … why are we there in Iraq? And they say, when you attack our policy, you’re attacking the boys. On the contrary … we want them back home with their families, doing their work and not a war that we know is built upon an obscene lie. … It’s this lack of history that’s been denied us.”

Amy concludes her column, writing-

The Obama campaign benefited from the participation of millions. They and millions more see that the current direction of the country is not sustainable. From the global economic meltdown to war, we have to find a new way. This is a rare moment when party lines are breaking down. Yet if Obama buckles to the corporate lobbyists, how will his passionate supporters pressure him? They have built a historic campaign operation—but they don’t control it. People need strong, independent grass-roots organizations to effect genuine, long-term change. This is how movements are built. As Obama heads to the White House, his campaign organization needs to be returned to the people who built it, to continue the community organizing that made history.

studsterkel
Of Studs Terkel’s death, Chicago Tribune reporter Patrick Reardon writes he was “born in New York City but came to embody Chicago as no other writer or cultural figure ever has. And few have left such a deep literary imprint. He took the obscure academic exercise known as oral history and turned it into literature. In transcribing the words and hopes of ordinary people, he gave voice to the voiceless.” Reardon continues, “whether on radio or on the page, he used his words to celebrate the People with a capital P and to protest their oppression by the stupid and powerful.”

According to Jeff Cohen, founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Studs Terkel will never be silenced. “Studs received generally favorable treatment from mainstream media. The respect was not mutual. He decried the elite media’s coziness with the powerful, the timidity that subverted public television, and the censorial ways of corporate media bosses.”

In his last interview, October 23rd, a week before his death at the age of 96, Studs Terkel told Edward Lifson of Huffington Post, “Community organizers like Obama know what’s going on. If they remember. The important thing is memory. You know in this country, we all have Alzheimer’s. Obama has got to remember his days as an organizer. It all comes back to the neighborhood.”

According to the piece, Studs Terkel was hoping for an Obama landslide. “I’m very excited by the idea of a black guy in the White House, that’s very exciting,” he said as he was hanging up, “I just wish he was more progressive.”

Music by Ooah & Ernest Gonzales. Produced in the studios of Boise Community Radio, and also airing on KRFP Moscow.

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Download or listen to today’s 30-minute Digital Crossroads HERE. If you are short on time, but want to know what’s happening , you can also listen to a shorter segment (7:30) highlighting the Local Community Radio Act and ongoing webcasting royalty disputes HERE.

Today’s Digital Crossroads includes headlines covering: minority representation lawsuits against Arbitron, a study showing the payola agreement hasn’t helped independent music, Radiohead’s new pressure group Featured Artists Coalition, the FCC and indecency headed to the Supreme Court on Election Day, and torture music royalties might be owed by the US military for reportedly playing a David Gray song “Babylon” repeatedly at Guantanamo Bay during torture and interrogation.

The features include a look at the Radio for People Coalition, the Local Community Radio Act, and the ongoing webcaster royalty disputes.

Arbitron sued for underrepresentation of minorities-
New York Times writer Brian Stelter reported October 6th– The office of New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo announced they are suing Arbitron, the company that compiles audience ratings, because of concerns that minority listeners are not being fairly represented. The new ratings system relies on hand-held devices called portable people meters or PPM, which Attorney General Cuomo’s office says do not adequately account for young African-Americans and Hispanics, as well as all people who do not speak English, and cellphone-only households. Ratings for some minority broadcasters dropped considerably during the past year of testing the people meters, which a coalition of minority broadcasters claims would “disenfranchise minority communities and have a devastating impact on small businesses.”

According to the Associated Press– after the state of New Jersey filed a similar suit against Arbitron, the radio ratings service company filed a countersuit in U.S. District Court, claiming the attorneys general are interfering with the rollout of the PPM. Digital Crossroads will continue to follow this story, which has big implications for minority representation on the air.

Future of Music Coalition says payola settlement has not helped independent music-
Radio trade publication FMQB wrote October 21st– The American Association of Independent Music and the Future of Music Coalition have released results of a study demonstrating that 92 percent of independent labels report no change in their relationships with commercial radio since the FCC a year ago signed agreements with four major commercial radio broadcasters (CBS Radio, Clear Channel, Entercom and Citadel) that was supposed to increase independent music on the radio. Then Attorney General Elliot Spitzer’s high-profile payola investigation led to an agreement by the big radio conglomerates which has reportedly not increased access or cooperation beyond a few isolated instances. Future of Music Coaltion Executive Director Ann Chaitovitz said “This report represents important groundwork to ensure that radio is accessible to local and independent artists and serves its local communities. By documenting the historic and ongoing barriers between commercial radio and independent music, we help ensure accountability and hopefully create more favorable conditions for independent artists and labels.” You can download the full study, available HERE.

Radiohead has joined the Featured Artists’ Coalition-
Ian Youngs reported October 3rd on BBC News that UK pop stars are taking action to gain ownership and control of their work from record labels. Radiohead, The Verve, Robbie Williams, Klaxons and dozens of other acts have joined a new pressure group called Featured Artists’ Coalition. Their aims include keeping the rights to music they create and fair compensation when their songs are sold in new ways. As power shifts in the increasingly digital music industry, many acts feel ignored when their record labels and music publishers strike new licensing and publishing deals.

Does US Military Owe Torture Music Royalties?
According to The Guardian– David Gray’s song “Babylon” is allegedly one of the most popular torture songs at America’s prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to reports, loud music is being used by Americans during interrogation of suspected terrorists. David Gray is not happy about it, telling BBC– “No one wants to even think about it or discuss the fact that we’ve gone above and beyond all legal process and we’re torturing people… It doesn’t matter what the music is, it could be Tchaikovsky’s finest or it could be Barney the Dinosaur… We’re talking about people in a darkened room, physically inhibited by handcuffs, bags over their heads and music blaring at them… That is nothing but torture.”

The question Eliot Van Buskirk at Wired Magazine has been asking– is whether the Bush administration owes royalties on the song reportedly played on heavy rotation, not that the song itself constitutes torture, he points out. “Arguably,” Van Buskirk writes, blaring “Babylon” over and over “constitutes a public performance and conceivably makes it subject to royalties owed ASCAP and BMI, companies that collect royalty payments on behalf of musicians.” The issue may get resolved soon after the Presidential election as Barack Obama, John McCain and several third-party candidates all want to shut Guantanamo down. Still, as outlandish as this may sound, remember the royalty collection agencies squeeze money out of nursing homes, hospitals and prisons in the continental US already.

Radio For People Coalition

One year ago, after many years of anticipation, The FCC lifted a freeze on applications for full-powered, noncommercial (NCE) radio licenses between October 12 and October 22, 2007. During those ten days, more than 350 local community groups across the country applied for frequencies on behalf of community radio. NCE frequencies, which reside on the FM dial between 88.1 MHz and 91.9 MHz, are granted to American citizens by the federal government as a public trust at no cost.

“This is the last free spectrum,” said FCC attorney John Crigler, who helped community radio applicants. “and this filing window will have social consequences. It is a last opportunity to have a fight about values and how public spectrum ought to be used.”

Radio for People is a national coalition for promoting and supporting grassroots independent media. They are independent groups, lawyers, radio engineers, radio stations, free media advocates, professional associations, social justice activists, and many other concerned folks who have joined together in anticipation of the upcoming FCC noncommercial license application window, to encourage the creation of more independent community radio stations. They made the case that the application window was an important one-time opportunity, believing that a significant number of the radio licenses made available should be used for local community radio.
Key members of the Radio for People coalition:

Common Frequency
Common Frequency is a group of dedicated individuals with backgrounds in college and community broadcast media, determined to facilitate more public access to the airwaves. They alert non-profit and educational institutions regarding broadcast application opportunities, encourage public participation in radio broadcasting, promote a diversity of viewpoints on the public airwaves through the airing of grassroots-produced public affairs programming, promote music education and independent artists on non-commercial radio, and provide resources and consultation to new stations in areas of station constructing and governance.

Free Press
Free Press is a national nonpartisan organization working to increase informed public participation in crucial media policy debates, and to generate policies that will produce a more competitive and public interest-oriented media system with a strong nonprofit and noncommercial sector.

Future of Music Coalition
The Future of Music Coalition is a not-for-profit collaboration between members of the music, technology, public policy and intellectual property law communities. The FMC seeks to educate the media, policymakers, and the public about music / technology issues, while also bringing together diverse voices in an effort to come up with creative solutions to some of the challenges in this space. The FMC also aims to identify and promote innovative business models that will help musicians and citizens to benefit from new technologies.

National Federation of Community Broadcasters
The National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) is a national alliance of stations, producers, and others committed to community radio. NFCB advocates for national public policy, funding, recognition, and resources on behalf of its membership, while providing services to empower and strengthen community broadcasters through the core values of localism, diversity, and public service.

Pacifica Radio Network
Pacifica Radio Network is the oldest noncommercial radio community radio network in the United States. Pacifica Radio founded the concept of listener-sponsored community radio and has championed free-speech broadcasting since 1949 and remains commercial-free, free-speech radio. Today the network includes 120 community, college, low-powered, public, and Internet radio stations.

Pacifica’s mission is to promote peace and justice through communication between all races, nationalities and cultures. They strive to contribute to the democratic process through public discourse and promotion of culture. Unbeholden to commercial or governmental interests, we recognize that use of the airwaves is a public trust.

Prometheus Radio Project
The Prometheus Radio Project is a non-profit organization founded by a small group of radio activists in 1998. They believe that a free, diverse, and democratic media is critical to the political and cultural health of our nation, yet they see unprecedented levels of consolidation, homogenization, and restriction in the media landscape. They work toward a future characterized by easy access to media outlets and a broad, exciting selection of cultural and informative media resources.

Public Radio Capitol
Public Radio Capital’s (PRC) mission is to strengthen and expand public radio services in communities nationwide, so that people have greater program choices for in-depth information, unbiased news, diverse music and cultural programming. PRC is supported in this mission by grants from the Ford Foundation, Surdna Foundation and other generous contributors.

Since its founding in 2001, Public Radio Capital, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, has secured public radio services for over 22 million people nationwide. In its role to broaden the reach of public radio, PRC is the industry’s leading advisor in planning, acquiring and financing new public radio channels. PRC provides public radio organizations with business planning, consulting, station appraisals, brokerage, acquisition and financial advisory services.

Also in this 30-minute radio show I talked about the Local Community Radio Act, which could lead to 1000 new community radio station frequencies opening up if it passes Congress. See Prometheus and Free Press for more info.

Who Gets Cash, Who Gets Airplay: (Hint- not the little guy)

And finally, with big help from Kurt Hanson the man behind the Radio and Internet Newsletter, I try to demystify the ongoing webcaster royalty negotiations. OK, So who’s who in the long-running dispute over Internet Radio royalties? Kurt Hanson, the author of RAIN has some answers

He writes, “One reason for the Internet radio royalty mess is that, in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998, Congress set up a spiderweb of groups with multiple conflicting priorties that are supposed to somehow come up with reasonable rates.” Hanson is talking about Copyright Owners like Major Labels and Indie Labels, Rich Musicians and Working Musicians, and their negotiating body, Sound Exchange. Then there are the Copyright Users, such as the National Association of Broadcasters, the Digital Media Association, National Public Radio member stations, college broadcasters, religious stations, and small commercial webcasters. The Copyright Users must pay the Copyright Owners for streaming music over the Internet to the public. The ongoing negotiations over how much money is a fair amount take place before the Copyright Royalty Board, who work for the US Copyright Office.

Kurt Hanson writes, “The Webcaster Settlement Act is written to allow private negotiations between Sound Exchange and various subsets of webcasters to have the force of law.”

However, there are internal conflicts on each side of the negotiations. On the webcaster side, the National Association of Broadcasters sees itself as competing with Digital Media Association members like Pandora and with NPR member stations. Meanwhile, small commercial webcasters are working with bigger groups like AOL Radio to bring down the rates, but the bigger webcasters do not necessarily like competition from the little guys, so they do not support a small webcaster rate as actively.

Then you have the Copyright holders. SoundExchange is comprised, according to Kurt Hanson, of 50% record label representatives and 50% musician reps. Indie labels are competing with the big 5 multi-nationals for radio airplay and consumer dollars. They may be more inclined to support Internet radio than large labels, who want to protect their dominance on old fashioned AM and FM radio. Musicians, too, have conflicting priorities. Multimillionare recording artists like Mariah Carey want cash now, whereas hundreds of thousands of working musicians want airplay to build their fan bases. Hanson points out that multimillionaire musicians who are still active like Paul McCartney want airplay, whereas retired musicians like Mary Wilson of The Supremes would prefer cash.

Copyright law is primarily supposed to support active musicians, but the way SoundExchange is set up, the little guys on both sides of the negotiations are at a disadvantage.

The music on the show is courtesy of Ooah, Ernest Gonzales, Gabriel Teodros and The Tasteful Nudes.

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LISTEN RIGHT NOW to Digital Crossroads from October 17th.

The 30-minute show is dedicated to the memory of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya who was murdered two years ago on then-President Vladimir Putin’s birthday. A closed-door military trial for three suspects will begin in November. To learn more read two of her books available in English, Putin’s Russia and A Russian Diary. You could also start with two recent posts about Anna, in Global Voices and from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Digital Crossroads October 17, 2008
Remembering Anna
By Gavin Dahl

Anna Politkovskaya, a reporter who lived and died fighting for the truth, believed there to be a moral vacuum at the heart of Russia’s political system. She covered the most gruesome stories in her country for Novaya Gazeta, a small newspaper she co-founded with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev among others.

She was murdered in 2006 on former Russian president Vladimir Putin’s birthday, fueling speculation of his involvement. Much of her criticism in Putin’s Russia and A Russian Diary centers on the absence of official accountability for endless war in Chechnya, deaths of hostages at a Beslan school, blown up apartment buildings in Volgodonsk, the plight of conscripted soldiers, or the deadly siege on terrorists and innocent hostages at a production of a musical in Dubrovka.

Now, two years later, Digital Crossroads examines Putin’s Russia and remembers Anna.

There is a difference that sets Vladimir Putin apart from other G8 leaders. He is the most statistically popular leader alive today. Putin has achieved hegemonic stability through censorship, political corruption, extrajudicial violence, selective justice and royalties from oil and gas. A retired teacher in the crowd of 200 at a rain-soaked vigil in Moscow, October 7th, marking the 2-year anniversary of Anna’s murder, told the Washington Post she doubted the killer would ever be punished. “Not under Putin’s regime,” she said.

Anna’s stories of abductions, bombings, executions, torture, rape, arson, censorship, corruption and the sanction by Russia’s most powerful state authorities offer grim and awful images of what Russia is really like today. A victim of state torture with a knife lodged in the side of his head. A list of forty names of those abducted in the first months of 2004, assembled by families, rejected by procurators. Dead children mourned with no investigation. Families ridiculed by officials for searching for clues.

Anna implored Russians to look past government-spun information masquerading as news, and left behind a legacy of courage. When she was murdered at her apartment complex at the age of 48, the killers left behind a Makarov pistol. The job was most certainly a hit, sending out shockwaves felt worldwide by advocates of press freedom, killing a reporter involves less risk in Putin’s Russia than reporting on killers.

Since Putin came to near-absolute power in 2000, the country has seen more than a dozen unsolved murders of journalists. The New York Times and London Review of Books have published unequivocal statements about the lack of indignation and continued support for Putin, the former head of the KGB. Press Freedom groups including The Committee to Protect Journalists, The International Federation of Journalists and Global Voices at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center For Internet and Society agree.

May 24, 2007 in an editorial titled, “Killing the Russian Media,” the Times states, “Polls show President Putin’s popularity has soared. No wonder. Fewer and fewer Russians can see or hear from anyone who opposes him, his policies or his government.” The era of glasnost seems further than twenty years removed, as today the definition of extremism has been expanded to include media criticism of state officials.

January 25, 2007 London Review of Books published an article titled, “Russia’s Managed Democracy” asserting, “Putin’s control of the media is becoming more and more comprehensive. The methodical construction of a personalized authoritarian regime with a strong domestic base is well under way.” This is not hyperbole. Anna writes in A Russian Diary about a deputy Editor-in-Chief of one of the two newspapers published in Ingushetia. According to her colleague, “every column of the newspapers is read personally at proof stage by Issa Merzhoev.” The president’s press secretary removes anything he considers harmful to stabilization. “That is the law.”

After Anna’s murder, Alexei Venediktov, Editor-in-Chief of Echo of Moscow, told Salon.com in an interview published October 13, 2006 he had already overheard their radio reporters saying they should steer clear of coverage on Chechnya because they would be constantly looking over their shoulders. “There is almost no investigative journalism left in Russia,” he said. Because of what happened to Anna, “many of my colleagues will be afraid when entering their houses.”

Outlined at the start of the section of A Russian Diary she calls Russia’s Great Political Depression, Anna’s story reveals her colleagues’ fears of being fired if they attempt to publish anything about extrajudicial executions, now officially described by the procurator’s office as targeted force necessary in the struggle against terrorism. “In Ingushetia fear now fetters everybody… like a dragon that looks down on everybody from above,” she writes. “Concealing the problem can only make it worse.”

February 7, 2004 Putin’s reelection opponent, presidential candidate Ivan Rybkin disappeared. Anna addresses the most intriguing story from her chapter on the façade of democracy in Russia with dark humor, “a bit of excitement in the election at last.” Five days earlier Rybkin had criticized Putin in very harsh terms.

Anna’s next entry in A Russian Diary, February 9, finds Rybkin still missing. Oddly, a Federal Security Bureau colonel Gennadii Gudkov, then the deputy chairman of the Duma security committee, stated publicly that Rybkin was safe. Insisting her husband was kidnapped, Albina Niklaevna was convinced he ought not to have criticized Putin. By the following day, Rybkin was “found.”

Anna allows herself some harsh sweeping commentary, writing, “We are not talking here about orders, needless to say. Our top cats have only to raise an eyebrow, hinting at their august displeasure, for their serfs to rush immediately to carry out their wishes.” Putin may not have uttered a word.

Then February 12, Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB/FSB officer granted political asylum in London, suggested that a psychotropic substance called SP117 might have been used on Rybkin. Litvinenko himself would die in November 2006, just weeks after Anna Politkovskaya, from polonium-210 poisoning. The truth drug believed to have been at play during Rybkin’s absence from the presidential race operates on specific parts of the brain in order to prevent an individual from having full possession of his mind. Anna writes, “He will tell everything he knows.” This same day, Putin made public his sobering refusal to participate in televised debates.

The next day, Ivan Rybkin announced he would not be returning from London. According to Anna, nobody has any doubt that the regime drugged him. A call to the offices of Novaya Gazeta warned, “if Rybkin should produce any compromising material against Putin in television debates, another terrorist act (will) follow. The president will have to distract the attention of the public somehow.” The paper did pass the message on to London, but Rybkin had already decided to withdraw from the race. Fear gripped him. “A defecting presidential candidate is a first in our history,” Anna writes.

Russians know the fear fueling political depression too well, but in many cases they don’t know the whole story. Events surrounding the assault on the Dubrovka theater production of Nord-Ost in 2002 are murky at best. Various investigations continued with unsatisfying results until June 1, 2007 when Echo of Moscow, the last remaining independent radio station in Russia, reported the investigation was closed indefinitely.

In A Russian Diary Anna accompanies relatives of the Nord-Ost victims to a meeting at the procurator general’s office in Moscow. The investigator greets them without a trace of sympathy, “Passports on the table! Nord-Ost Association? Who has recognized this organization?”

At issue for the families are several major discrepancies between the official story and the facts from the day of the assault. It is believed that many of the Chechen rebels were murdered despite being incapacitated by gas. Attacking soldiers may have shot hostages. Many of the belongings of hostages were looted by the military. Authorities failed to provide adequate medical support to hundreds of survivors, many of who were carried out and left in the rain and snow outside for hours. Tatyana Karpova, chairperson of the Nord-Ost association, and mother of one of the hostages who died, asked about Gennadii Vlakh, whose body was cremated as if he were one of the terrorists. The official responds, “That is none of your business.” She asks, “Has anybody been charged in connection with this affair?” “No,” he replies.

The mysterious gas used by the Russian Federation remains unknown. Yet the procurator’s report explains, “There are no objective grounds to suppose that the use of a gaseous chemical substance or substances might have been the sole cause of death.” Anna points out, too, that it was officially declared a major achievement of the operation that the terrorists all lost consciousness. Yet thirty terrorists were gunned down. Were they returning fire while unconscious? Did FSB agents shoot them, systematically, in their sleep?

What about the alleged military dummy grenades worn by the female militants? The story offered by Alexander Litvinenko was that two of the Chechens were working for the FSB, and that the agency manipulated the rebels into staging the attack. Did these two agent provocateurs (code name Abu Bakr and Abdul the Bloody) indeed escape? Anna does not insist in her book that any one version of the story is the real one. What she does is shed light on the treatment of the families by authorities wanting the story to go away.

Of all the stories that will not go away, Chechnya is most devastating.

Anna points out regarding the war in Chechnya reporters may write only about the killing of fighters and the “voluntary resettlement of refugees.” She concludes the death squads are completely taboo, as is all extrajudicial activity. Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov assumed Anna would sweeten the story of her hallucinatory adventure to his headquarters August 29, 2004. Instead, she printed the exchange exactly as it occurred. She describes the security service he captains as illegal, while provided with federal armaments. Kadyrov and his men, in the business of robbery and extortion, torture prisoners like gangsters.

In A Russian Diary Anna tells of risking her life and traveling to Tsentoroy, where Kadyrov agreed to meet her inside his fortress. He quickly admits to ordering two murders, or “exterminations” that very day. Anna describes him laughing at inappropriate moments, scratching, wiggling, shouting and jumping up and down in his chair. She challenges his right to kill anyone, when formally his men are the security service of the president of Chechnya. He boasts, “We have every right. We carried out this operation jointly with the FSB. We have all the necessary official permissions.” Anna insists he could not legally have two accused Chechen rebels apprehended and killed.

Two days prior to the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, returning home to her Moscow apartment with groceries, she gave her final interview. Broadcast across Russia on US State Department-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the interview offered Anna access to a large potential audience. She stated resolutely that two photographs were sitting on her desk. Her investigation into torture in Kadyrov’s prisons led her to insist his behavior could not be reduced to individual cases because of the enormous number of dead and disappeared. She stated without hesitation, “Kadyrov is a Stalin of our times.”

Beyond the assumption by much of the Western press that Kadyrov ordered the hit or Putin merely raised an eyebrow, there have been half a dozen other theories circulated about her murder. Her murder might be explained as revenge by crooked police or military officers identified by her sensationalist reporting, conspiracy by opponents of Putin or Kadyrov intent on discrediting them, revenge by Chechen militants written about in Novaya Gazeta or her books on the conflict, nationalism run amok, or corruption by oligarchs exposed in her articles.

There is little hope the Russian Federation will ever conduct a thorough investigation and almost zero chance her killer or his bosses will be brought to justice. It is fundamentally important to remember that Putin’s Russia is a place where journalists are being killed with impunity.

Appearing on camera with American president George W. Bush and German chancellor Andrea Merkel, Putin said of Anna’s murder, “Her political influence in Russia was extremely insignificant.” He added, “the murder does much more harm to Russia and Chechnya than any of her publications.” In one breath, Putin dismissed her work.

According to Reason Magazine no high-level government official attended Anna Politkovskaya’s funeral. The Moscow Times and International Herald Tribune reported that 1000 people gathered outside the cemetery in the rain during her memorial service. Soon after, police seized documents from Anna’s home and office, as well as her computer and the photographs she discussed in her last interview. Novaya Gazeta offered close to a million dollars in reward money for information, believing no investigation would follow Putin’s public promise to Bush and Merkel.

Kadyrov, who denies having anything to do with her killing because, “I don’t kill women,” has continued his rise, becoming president of Chechnya April 5, 2007.

Two years after Anna’s death Novaya Gazeta Editor-in-Chief Dmitry Muratov told The Eurasia Daily Monitor he believes now that the murder case has been deliberately undermined. “I think this is the first case in the history of domestic criminalistics that a list of suspects has been talked about so loudly, not even by the Prosecutor General’s Office, but by a court.”

Two Chechen brothers are charged with conducting surveillance on Anna Politkovskaya and a former police officer is accused of providing technical help. Times Online reported October 16, the man suspected of shooting her is their brother, but he remains on the run. Investigators believe somebody ordered the killing, though they have not yet named a suspect. Lawyers for the defendants and Anna want the trial in November to be held in public, but prosecutors are pressing for a closed court, because of classified documents.

As Putin has stated publicly, in Russia, “all debates are useless.” If you are not in support of Putin, you are a terrorist. If your awards include the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism, the International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award, the Reporters Without Borders Media Laureate Prize, the Civil Courage Prize and many others, you are insignificant.

If you are the Russian Union of Journalists you can be evicted. If you interview the widow of a murdered Chechen rebel, you will be fired from your television show. And finally if your newspaper publishes the reports of a murdered journalist, even after the shockwaves of her death have been felt across the globe, you can expect to have your office raided, twice.

Sources available upon request. To read the New Yorker article about Echo of Moscow, CLICK HERE.


This week’s PRIVACY & SURVEILLANCE headlines:

Freedom Not Fear-
October 11th was an International Action Day called “Freedom Not Fear, Stop the Surveillance mania!” The Freedom Not Fear website reads, “Governments and businesses register, monitor and control our behavior ever more thoroughly. No matter what we do, who we phone and talk to, where we go, whom we are friends with, what our interests are, which groups we participate in “Big Brother” government and “Little Brothers” in business know it more and more thoroughly. The resulting lack of privacy and confidentiality is putting at risk the freedom of confession, the freedom of speech as well as the work of doctors, helplines, lawyers and journalists.”
The statement on the Freedom Not Fear website continues, “The agenda of security sector reform encompasses the convergence of police, intelligence agencies and the military, threatening to melt down the division and balance of powers. Using methods of mass surveillance, the border-less cooperation of the military, intelligence services and police authorities is leading toward the construction of “Fortresses” in Europe and on other continents, directed against refugees and different-looking people but also affecting, for example, political activists, the poor and under-privileged, and even sports fans.”

“We believe the respect for our privacy to be an important part of our human dignity. A free and open society cannot exist without unconditionally private spaces and communications.”

Credit cards can’t buy you love, at Wal-Mart-
Three guys go into a Wal-Mart, have you heard this one? Three guys go into a Wal-Mart with forged credit cards and stolen credit card numbers and buy a laptop. Except somehow Wal-Mart scammed them, selling an empty laptop box. They didn’t figure it out until after they left, but they showed back up to complain and Wal-Mart assumed they were scammers, not because of the credit cards but because the empty box claim sounded preposterous. Wal-Mart called the police, and as one guy attempted to run, he dropped a bunch of stolen credit cards. Of course, about the empty box the guys were telling the truth. But if you were buying merchandise with forged credit cards, would you go back to the scene of the crime to complain?

Music on the show by: Ooah, Gabriel Teodros, The Tasteful Nudes & Ernest Gonzales

I also just found two other great blogs about Anna Politkovskaya this weekend:

La Russophobe

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