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Posts Tagged ‘Reclaim the Media’

On Monday February 9, Digital Crossroads featured an interview with Reclaim the Media executive director Jonathan Lawson.

Listen to the entire 30-minute show, hosted by Radio Active Gavin, by clicking HERE. The show airs live at 9pm MST on Boise Community Radio, which is streaming at RadioBoise.org 24 hours a day.

Reclaim the Media has started a grassroots public assistance phone line in Seattle to provide answers to folks with DTV problems. SeattleDTV.com is such a unique project, Lawson says local TV stations are actually referring folks to them.

Also on the show, the Internet radio royalties debate enters its final week for negotiation. Plus, Congressmen in the House and Senate have re-introduced bills to begin charging AM and FM stations a new performance royalty. It would only amount to $1000 annually for small community radio stations like Boise Community Radio or Free Radio Moscow, but half of that money will go straight to the record companies. The broadcasting lobby is calling it a bailout for the record industry.

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LISTEN RIGHT NOW to the first Digital Crossroads recorded in the downtown Boise studio at Boise Community Radio. The show is now 29 minutes, and available here and on Pacifica’s Audioport every Friday after airing at 11 AM in the mountain time zone.

Digital Crossroads is a radio program all about media literacy and media justice. Learn how technology politics affect free speech, journalism and your everyday life with headlines, clips and original interviews coming to you weekly, focusing on community media, grassroots activists, and government officials. Coverage including the February 2009 digital TV transition, media policies in Congress and at the FCC, privacy & surveillance, net neutrality, elections & voting, radio & recordings and international press freedom.

Today, a dramatic feature with two interviews and clip. In September I was in Austin, Texas and attended the major commercial radio lobby’s trade show, held in the Austin Convention Center, which was also sheltering more than 1200 Hurricane Ike evacuees from Galveston. Listen to audio from the keynote speaker and an evacuee. Then hear analysis from Jim Ellinger, international community radio consultant based in Austin. Remember, change starts with you.

ELECTIONS&VOTING_ McCain’s tax cut benefits corporate media

According to an analysis published October 4th on Think Progress Republican Presidential candidate John McCain’s economic plan includes large tax cuts for corporations. The Center for American Progress Action Fund suggests McCain would create the largest deficit in 25 years by doubling President Bush’s tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Think Progress points out recent criticism by cable channel Fox News of liberal American media companies’ obvious and transparent agenda. However, McCain’s tax cuts could net General Electric/NBC $25 million, News Corp/Fox $80 million, Viacom/CBS $190 million, Time Warner/CNN $500 million, and Walt Disney/ABC $640 million. America’s five largest media corporations made worldwide profits of more than $36 billion in 2007.

ELECTIONS&VOTING_ Counting every vote in Florida in 2008

Kim Zetter wrote October 7th for Wired that the pivotal election battleground of Palm Beach County, Florida has twice flipped the winner in a local judicial race, revealing serious problems with the county’s infrastructure one month before the presidential election. Some vote tabulation machines were literally unable to produce the same results twice. The story has more twists than all the lousy movies by the director of The Sixth Sense combined. An August 26th primary election was close enough to force a recount. Then more than 3,400 ballots mysteriously disappeared and a different winner was declared. After a prolonged hunt, the county found them, also turning up more than 200 different ballots that officials never knew were missing. The original winner was victorious. However, optical-scan tabulation machines made by Sequoia Voting Systems rejected about 12,000 ballots and officials found legitimate votes that were marked clearly and correctly and should have been read by the machines. Other ballots were not marked correctly, but still indicated a clear choice by the voter. The winner was the same, but his margin of victory had gone down from 115 to 58 votes. Incredibly, officials then discovered 159 ballots from 54 precincts that had not been tabulated. The story goes on and on. Palm Beach County was using new optical-scan machines that it recently purchased from Sequoia for $5.5 million to replace paperless touchscreen machines the county purchased in 2002, which were bought to replace punch card machines involved in the 2000 election debacle. Pamela Smith of VerifiedVoting.Org told Wired it’s not enough to have paper ballots. Counties with optical scanners need robust testing and manual audits. Palm Beach Post reports the county has asked Sequoia to test all eight of its high-speed optical scanners before November 4th.

PRIVACY&SURVEILLANCE_ Skype: We didn’t know, and there are no security problems

Veteran reporter Marguerite Reardon wrote October 3rd on CNET that Skype’s president claims he was not aware Skype’s Chinese partner TOM-Skype was logging and storing users’ instant messages, when they were deemed offensive by the Chinese government. All ISPs in China are required to monitor communications, as Skype disclosed to users in 2006. A text filter blocks certain words in chat messages, including keywords related to Taiwanese independence, banned religious group Falon Gong and political opposition to the Chinese Communist Party. Researchers at University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab published a report saying TOM-Skype is logging and capturing millions of records including personal information and contact details for any text chat and voice calls to TOM-Skype users, including from Skype users. Still, Skype president Josh Silverman insists “Skype-to-Skype communications are, and always have been, completely secure and private.”

PRIVACY&SURVEILLANCE_ NSA has repeatedly abused wiretaps, listening to Americans calling Americans

Mike Masnick reported October 9th on TechDirt that leaks are coming out highlighting NSA spying on Americans in the wake of Congress granting retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies for agreeing with the Bush administration’s illegal warrantless wiretapping. Under General Michael Hayden’s leadership the NSA created a domestic telephone call database, but Hayden stated conversations between Americans were not being intercepted. “We are narrowly focused and drilled on protecting the nation against al Qaeda and those organizations who are affiliated with it. It’s not for the heck of it.” In fact, according to ABC News, two separate “intercept operators” have come forward separately, saying they listened in on innocent calls between two Americans. Not only were calls between Americans listened to and recorded on a regular basis, highlights were sent around to other operators. One operator said that on a regular basis messages were forwarded because of “good phone sex” or “pillow talk”.


JOURNALISM&FREE SPEECH_ California passed anti-censorship journalism adviser bill

Alberto Morales of Student Press Law Center wrote September 29th about a new bill signed into law by Governator Ahhnold Schwarzenegger in California that protects high school and college teachers, in addition to all other school employees, from being retaliated against because of student speech. State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) introduced Senate Bill 1370, building on other protective student journalism measures in California’s Education Code. Yee said in a statement, “Allowing a school administration to censor in any way is contrary to the democratic process and the ability of a student newspaper to serve as the watchdog and bring sunshine to the actions of school administrators.” Senator Lee continued, “It is quite disheartening to hear, that after we specifically prohibited prior restraint by administrators, that some are engaging in this type of nefarious activity and even firing quality teachers because of content in the student newspaper.” Adam Keigwin, Yee’s communications director, said “I would hope there are some legislators out there in other states who are listening and cutting and pasting our law into a bill of their own.” California’s Governator signed 163 bills, while vetoing 226 others all in the last weekend of September, once the state budget was finally passed.

JOURNALISM&FREE SPEECH_ New Delhi journalist murdered

Qatar’s top-selling English daily newspaper Gulf Times reported October 4th that television journalist Soumya Vishwanathan was murdered. Described as honest and fearless by her former Kamla Nehru College journalism teacher Radhika Khanna, the young woman was found dead in her car around 3:30 in the morning after having returned home from work. The killing of the 25-year old woman, called by her former teacher a “sad reminder of the insecurity in our lives” has led to a ‘Justice for Soumya’ campaign organized by her colleagues at the Headlines Today news channel. A petition demanding justice was to be presented to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders, in addition to online social networking campaigns. At least 33 other journalists have been murdered in 2008, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Tune in next week to Digital Crossroads for Two Years Without Anna, Remembering the murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Feature on National Association of Broadcasters Radio Show keynote lobbying against FCC localism mandates, a glimpse inside the Hurricane Ike evacuation common area inside the Convention Center with my Ronald Taylor interview, and response from Jim Ellinger on the phone from Austin looking back.

[September 17th I rode a bicycle up to the Austin Convention Center ready to report on the National Association of Broadcasters convention. Inside I discovered more than 1000 people provided temporary shelter by the City of Austin. FEMA was not at the Convention Center, though City of Austin staff were doing an excellent job coordinating.

Listen in for: audio from the NAB keynote address of David Rehr, interview clip of evacuee Ronald Taylor, and my October 3rd phone interview with Jim Ellinger, a community radio veteran who works with AMARC and runs Austin Airwaves.

Full audio of my conversation with Michael Jackson & Ronald Taylor and the phone interview with Jim Ellinger is coming soon right here. (Update soon! -Gavin)


FCC&CONGRESS_ Digital Transition means white spaces could bridge digital divide

Media activist Joshua Breitbart is the Policy Director for People’s Production House in New York City. In a story he wrote called “Digital Gold up for Grabs” published Friday October 3rd in The Indypendent he says FCC certification of white space devices is the most significant step we could take toward closing the digital divide. The FCC auctioned most of the broadcast spectrum made available by the transition to digital television to Verizon and AT&T, but small white spaces in between active channels can be opened up for portable, low-power devices that could connect millions of new people to the Internet for less than what we now pay. The New York City Council Committee on Technology in Government held a hearing September 29th to consider a resolution urging the FCC to hold back from opening white space devices. Current license holders like TV broadcasters don’t want to share the airwaves, claiming potential interference problems outweigh public interest concerns. Still, public interest groups including Free Press, Common Cause, Wireless Harlem and Ethos Group advocated for expanded access to the Internet, criticizing the resolution. For more explanation of white spaces, visit: Speak and Listen

FCC&CONGRESS_ Defense Department’s propaganda program finally investigated by FCC

Editor and Publisher reported October 7th the Federal Communications Commission will investigate the Department of Defense propaganda program revealed in the New York Times in April of this year, to determine whether news networks or military analysts violated the Communications Act of 1934 and FCC rules. Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein issued a statement confirming the agency’s enforcement bureau sent letters to five TV networks and 19 former military officers. The DoD paid individuals referred to as “message force multipliers” instructed to deliver “administration themes and messages” to the public “in the form of their own opinions.” Analysts even conveyed specific talking points to the public when they suspected the information was exaggerated or false. Network officials argued it was the analysts’ responsibility to disclose any conflicts of interest. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Commerce Committee Chairman Congressman John Dingell wrote to the FCC to investigate whether the plan violated sponsorhip identification requirements. National Public Radio is the only news organization I know of to even address their internal vetting process. You can read my Op-Ed about the pentagon propaganda plan on Reclaim the Media HERE.


[Digital Crossroads is produced in the studios at Boise Community Radio. Music by Ooah, Gabriel Teodros, Ernest Gonzales and The Tasteful Nudes. Next week, Two Years Without Anna- Remembering slain Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. —Radioactive Gavin.]

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The second day, Friday, I was up pretty early helping out with Free Speech TV. I ran sound in their amazing and fancy satellite truck. The opening speakers represented a solid mix of viewpoints, with Yolanda Hippensteele, Josh Silver and Robert McChesney (all of Free Press) introducing Adriene Maree Brown from Ruckus Society (who was on Democracy Now! on Friday LISTEN HERE), Lawrence Lessig of Change Congress and Rep. Keith Ellison from here in Minnesota.

In the Free Speech TV lunch room, I had the opportunity to speak with Denis Moynihan and his mom. Last month, he was featured on DN! announcing he was leaving the organization to run FSTV. I spoke with him on mic, and will feature the interview on Digital Crossroads June 13th. I didn’t ask Amy Goodman to do an interview, but she is really excited about Boise Community Radio.

After lunch I kicked it with Erin Gentry at the panel on hip hop community organizing. I hope to play audio from this event on the show, featuring Julie C from 206Zulu and Reclaim the Media, Rosa Clemente from R.E.A.C.HipHop, Shamako Noble (past guest on Crossroads) of Hip Hop Congress, JR Fleming of Coalition to Protect Housing, and Toki Wright of Yo! the Movement from here in Minneapolis.

The next panel I saw was organized by the Future of Music Coalition, looking at new music services and the music industry bottom line. It was hosted by Ann Chaitovitz, the chief at Future of Music, and featured Peter Gordon of Thirsty Ear Records. They both said they would do interviews on an upcoming show. I’m curious to follow up with Peter because he said Sound Exchange, the royalty collection agency, is not as bad as I think.

Bryan Calhoun, who does A&R and new media development for Kanye West and Ludacris talked about widgets and other tools for artist promotion. Plus, Stic.Man of DeadPrez was a surprise guest on the panel and said he was there to learn too, describing his goal as “seeing how to pimp the system even more harder.” He talked about “putting the power in your hands, and no middle man.”

The consensus on the panel is that America needs to preserve network neutrality, because e-commerce shouldn’t be controlled like the physical market. Speaking from the audience, Future of Music’s Michael Bracy said Time Warner’s proposed pay-as-you-use plan could be okay, but the key is protecting the “nondiscriminatory nature” of the web in terms of content.

At this point I went to the packed 24th floor of the Hyatt for a Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting and Institute for Public Accuracy party with free beer. Nobody seemed to have a problem drinking Coors-produced brew as long as somebody else was paying. I talked to Alexandra Peterson from Media Education Foundation and Sam Husseini from Institute for Public Accuracy.

There was an awesome party at a place called The News Room, thrown by Media & Democracy Coalition and others. The free drinks flowed and I met a lot of cool people including Nan Rubin, who is kind of a queen of grassroots radio organizing and Stan Lyles from SEIU United Health Workers West.

After catching some grub at Pancho Villa on Eat Street, I caught up with blogger and video activist Josh Wolf. He talked to me off the record about his thoughts on shield laws and his run for mayor in San Francisco. I’m hoping to interview him this weekend or very soon.

So many business cards to follow up on. Thanks Free Press! This is great!

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The first day, Thursday, I spent quality travel time with Karen Toering of Reclaim the Media and Angela Ballantyne of UW Communication Studies. We arrived at the airport early in the morning, before the storms started kicking up.

Then I caught up with Nathan James of Media and Democracy Coalition, who is live-blogging the conference. I’m having JavaScript problems for some reason, so here is the link: http://phasetransitions.blogspot.com/

I was able to speak on mic with Robert McChesney of Free Press and Marc Cooper of Consumer Federation of America. Listen for this and more fresh audio on Digital Crossroads Friday June 13th and 20th.

The academic symposium was pretty cool. I attended some research presentations. I think my favorite was “Sustaining Independent Media” featuring Cynthia Cotti on LPFM licenses as agents of localism, Jessica Clark & Tracy Van Slyke on measuring media impact, Adam Davis looking at the political economy of Current TV, Caroline Nappo on the significance of librarianship for media reform. I’m hoping to have all these awesome graduate student folks on Digital Crossroads soon.

Then I caught a swim at the Hyatt and a nap.

Go to freepress.net/conference and Free Speech TV to watch events of the conference as they happen.

-Gavin

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Check out this well-thought-out video created by 206 Zulu and Reclaim the Media in response to media coverage of the police-instigated riot after Dead Prez performed at Evergreen.

Respect to Julie-C and everyone else working on this!

-Radioactive Gavin

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dressed sharp, with sport coat, scarf, Merck Records hat and fresh sneaks -photos by James Brennaman

January 30th I testified in front of the Washington state legislature. The House committee on Technology, Energy and Communications was considering House Joint Memorial 4028, a bill introduced by Representatives Bob Hasegawa and Deb Wallace, condemning the Federal Communications Commission’s decision in December to expand newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership and the process that the FCC followed in delivering their decision.

More than 1000 folks from around the northwest participated in the FCC’s final hearing on media ownership at Seattle’s Town Hall in November, demanding no further consolidation. A month later, the Republican FCC majority moved ahead, deregulating despite public outcry. Though it is a non-binding resolution, HJM 4028 asks the U.S. Congress to work in a nonpartisan manner to pass the Media Ownership Act.

Only two members of the public signed up to speak on the rainy Wednesday afternoon. I represented the public interest perspective and Mark Allon, the head of Washington State Association of Broadcasters represented the industry perspective. (KAOS is a paid member of WSAB.) We were brought up together to the front of room, and we seated ourselves in front of microphones facing the committee.

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“fix the broken policymaking process, ensure public airwaves reflect America’s diverse local communities”

I was dressed sharp, with a sport coat, scarf, Merck Records hat and fresh sneaks. Mr. Allon was dressed conservatively, like the majority of suits on a given day at the Capitol. I’ve been to hearings at the Washington state capitol before, but this was my first time testifying. Mr. Allon invited me to speak first. I introduced myself, and identified KAOS radio and Olympia Film Society as two organizations that receive my volunteer efforts. I also asserted that I was speaking on behalf of the membership of Seattle-based nonprofit Reclaim the Media, then began with a preface.

“Whereas, freedom of speech and freedom of the press in America are protected by the Bill of Rights. Americans have a fundamental right to redress grievances with the federal government. The Federal Communications Commission is tasked with regulating our airwaves in the public interest.”

I knew that at least some members of the committee were following me at this point, and operated with the assumption I was connecting. I moved on.

“I believe the FCC should always strive to gather public testimony, study reliable academic and professional research and regulate transparently based on real input. Former FCC chair Michael Powell said infamously at a scripted convention speech in 1998 that the night after we was sworn in as a commissioner at the FCC he waited throughout the night for ‘the angel of the public interest’ to visit him. He said, ‘I waited all night, but she did not come.'”

At the delivery of this punch line of sorts, a couple committee members seemed amused. I felt encouraged, and continued.

“The studies commissioned during the Bush administration, first under chairman Powell and now under chairman Martin, have been ignored when legislative action could expand low-power community radio FM service and suppressed when news coverage could expose the hypocrisy of the current leadership’s nefarious agenda.”

The committee chairman interjected at this point, telling me that I need to watch my words, because we shouldn’t use the committee testimony to impugn. I assured him I understood, though under different circumstances I might have insisted that there is plenty of very public evidence to back up what I was saying. Nevertheless, I continued.

“To give chairman Martin some credit, this year he commissioned studies he knew he would like. Those haven’t been covered up.”

A couple more nervous laughs emanated from the committee, but I was feeling shaken, and out of place.

“Given the state of the studies and the response to reports, and considering the FCC’s practice of… OK I’m going to skip this part.”

This brought a surprising outburst of laughter from the committee. I was going to say the FCC has been privately notifying favored lobbyists of rules and hearings, but it didn’t matter. I was beginning to sense the committee was already on board. So I hit them with the goods.

“It is fundamental that Americans seize our opportunities to testify in front of the FCC commissioners, their staff, the media and the public, whenever we can get an opportunity. On November 9th I was one of more than 1000 members of the public who turned out to oppose further media consolidation. Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire and Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna as well as elected state and federal legislators from both parties including Representaive Hasegawa implored the FCC not to deregulate!

Please pass the Joint Memorial 4028 and send a clear message representing Washington. We need to fix the broken policymaking process and help ensure the public airwaves reflect America’s diverse local communities.”

I also pointed out that the Media Ownership Act passed the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously in December and then Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Dave Reichert introduced the bill in the House in December as well. At the end of my testimony the chairman thanked me, saying it was very good.

Ironically, despite making a very strong case, Mr. Allon referred to one of the studies recently commissioned by FCC chairman Kevin Martin. I had already primed the committee to reject it. I felt like Mr. Allon was not expecting to have an articulate college student speaking against him, and when he finished, he left. After a brief recess, the committee returned and voted unanimously to support HJM 4028 and the passing of the Media Ownership Act by Congress.

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