Monday, June 09, 2008

FCC Commissoners & Senator Dorgan media reform giants

FCC commissioners & Senator Dorgan strong presence at NCMR conference
Jill Westerholm
Professional voice/activist/writer

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps joined Jonathan Adelstein at this years Media Reform Conference in Minneapolis. While outnumbered on the Commission, Copps and Adelstein have been, along with Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, the biggest proponents of Media reform in Washington. Their political muscle cannot be overestimated.

The presence of these 3 formidable proponents of media reform at this years conference added weight to the urgency of the looming Presidential election. With a Democratic president and big wins in the House and Senate, it's clear how much will truly be accomplished to reverse the damages done from media consolidation.

Right now, Lawmakers are urging the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the Pentagon’s propaganda program to determine if the major TV networks or the Pentagon-backed analysts violated federal law. Copps revealed in an interview with Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now" broadcasting from the conference that the FCC has been requested by powerful members of Congress to conduct an investigation into this issue. Copps said a letter went to the FCC, and they were awaiting a response. Copps said he was in Minnesota to get media democracy now, because he didn't think you can have one without the other. And he thinks change is coming. Copps stated in his interview with Goodman and in his speech to the conference attendees that he wants to get serious now about media reform and that he's going to be asking for a down payment on media democracy, to return to a broadcast licensing and re-licensing system every three years for broadcasters that has accountability again, some public interest obligation, so you have local news, coverage of diversity, communities, everything we are now lacking with our re-licensing "rubber stamp" every 8 years. Copps said he is also committed to addressing not just the traditional media of broadcast, but the new media of the internet. He asked those of us working for the reform movement to come together to have these issues ready "to tee off" for the newly elected President. To get organized with his support for a binding and forcible principle of network neutrality, nondiscrimination on the internet.

We certainly will have made some real progress if we the gentlemen! We would have the message out in Washington and around the country that Washington is getting serious about comprehensive reform.

Commissioners Adelstein, Copps, as well as Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota all stressed a commitment and urgency to maintain an open architecture on the web, "net neutrality" as it is typically called or "Independent Freedom" as Dorgan called it --Dorgan stressed emphatically that progressives need to improve our language make our action more clear. All 3 men said in their speeches that they are working hard to guarantee the freedom and open architecture of this most dynamic and liberating technology.

Senator Dorgan recently led a bipartisan group of senators in March in a the "resolution of disapproval" to stop regulators from further easing media-ownership rules in the nation's 20 largest cities. The resolution passed — along with 13 Democratic and Republican co-sponsors — to stop the FCC from implementing the new rule that the agency approved in December. It's no surprise then why the Senator was welcomed with a rousing display of enthuiasm when he was introduced in his speech at this years Media Reform conference.

Indeed it was evident by the crowd's responses that all the journalists present at the conference surely recognized the power of these lawmakers to help us get our voice heard when at times it's seems insurmountable. We can be a unified voice all we want but without these 3 gentlemen we simply wouldn't have been able to compete with the over 9 million dollars in broadcasting lobbying or be able to truly hold big media corporation accountable.

The presence, or words if you watched from afar, of these giant leaders of reform in Washington made us smile, gave us hope, and illustrated that they will continue to be formidable forces for real and long lasting media reform.

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