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News ::
Media Democracy Weekend - March 22-23
19 Mar 2002
Modified: 10:45:35 PM
Instead of protecting the public interest, the Federal Communications Commission is helping big media conglomerates expand their monopoly power over radio, TV, newspapers and the internet.
This weekend in Washington DC, protestors, academics, public interest activists, and community organizers to come together in defense of our media democracy. The recent wave of media mergers, network consolidation, and misguided FCC deregulation has everyone from Robert McChesney to William Safire questioning the FCC's judgment.

Over the next 6 months, almost every FCC rule protecting the public from further media consolidation is up for review. The FCC is losing courts cases that it may not bother to appeal. Tauzin-Dingel passed the House. Cable companies providing broadband internet no longer have to open their monopoly-owned networks. The future of the media in this country is teetering on the verge of complete control by a few powerful multi-national corporations. This represents a very ugly combination of trends.

In conjunction with Alliance for Community Media's Media Democracy Week, grass-roots organizers have planned 2 events aimed at stopping these trends in their tracks:

(1) PROTEST outside the FCC on Friday, March 22 at 3 PM.
445 12th Street SW, Washington DC

The protest will focus on FCC Chairman Michael Powell's
self-proclaimed lack of understanding of "the public interest."

for more info see http://www.americanresurrection.com/
or keep reading.


(2) MEDIA DEMOCRACY TEACH-IN: Saturday, March 23 at 12:00 PM
Kay Spiritual Life Center, American University, DC

The teach-in will examine the trends and issues most
threatening to a democratic media. 3 Panels will be led
by experts, but designed for Interaction and Inclusion:

(1) Structural, Cultural, Political - what's gone wrong?
(2) Defining the Public Interest - what's the vision?
(3) Networking Community Media - what's the strategy

Panelists include:
Jeff Chester, Center for Digital Democracy
Andy Schwartzman, Media Access Project
Pete Tridish, Prometheus Radio Project
DeeDee Hallek, Media Activist, Professor, Independent Filmmaker
Sam Husseini, Institute for Public Accuracy
Eric Galatas, FreeSpeech TV
Jay Sand, Media Activist (IMC pioneer)
Walda Katz-Fishman, Project South, Howard University
Jennifer Pozner, Women In Media & News (WIMN)

for more info, see http://www.americanresurrection.com/TeachIn.htm



Additional info about this weekend is below.

BRING YOURSELF. BRING A FRIEND. SPREAD THE WORD!!!

There is no issue more fundamental to a democracy than the freedom of speech.
There is no group in this country that these trends won't affect.

==================================================
THE PROTEST
==================================================
What: Citizens, activists, media professionals, media scholars, public interest practitioners and members of Media Tank from around the nation will parody the Federal Communications Commission with a loud and colorful press conference and protest. Protesters will come dressed as "Angels of Public Interest" and deliver a message to the Federal Communications Commission that demands government officials fulfill their promise to defend and serve the public interest and maintain a democratic media.

Who: Sponsored by Media Tank. The protest will feature outraged citizens dressed like angels who wish to convey a divine message to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell. Also appearing will be an expert on public interest media. Media Tank, a Philadelphia-based non-profit media group, works at the grassroots level to bring awareness of and to promote actions to defend public interest and maintain a democratic media system.

Why: FCC Chairman Michael Powell announced: "The night after I was sworn in, I waited for a visit from the angel of the public interest. I waited all night, but she did not come." Since he had trouble seeing one Angel that dreadful night, protesters will descend in droves on the FCC Building to demonstrate that the public and the public interest do exist and must be served by their government. "The FCC was created to protect the public from monopoly interests, not the other way around. Powell's position indicates a drastic shift in the mission of the FCC -- I would think that would require a vote by Congress," stated Inja Coates, co-founder and director of Media Tank, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit media group. The protest by the Angels of Public Interest also comes in the wake of the recent judicial decision that further jeopardizes the protections the public has against media monopoly.

Media Visuals: Individuals dressed as angels; massive angel puppets carrying signs with "free media" messages; street theater parodying Chairman Michael Powell and the rest of the FCC

==================================================
THE TEACH-IN *
==================================================

PANEL #1: Structural, Cultural, Political
12:00 - 1:00

- What's happening to our media & why? What's wrong with this picture?
- As a group, work on developing a clear statement of the problem.
- Convergence, Competition, and Conglomeration?
- What's the role of the FCC? Congress? Courts?
- What do we mean by "corporate media"?
- What is harmful about media conglomeration?
- Can these harms be "quantified" and should they be?
- Is the FCC in collusion with the courts?
- Is market competition the same thing as the public interest?

PANELISTS:
Jeff Chester, Center for Digital Democracy
Andy Schwartzman, Media Access Project
Pete Tridish, Prometheus Radio Project

PANEL #2: Imagining the Public Interest
1:20 - 2:40

- What are out working definitions of this elusive term?
- Discuss where this term came from and its effectiveness.
- How do we clarify the objectives of media democracy?
- What does "public interest" mean to media activists?
- What does "public interest" mean to other community groups?
- What are the current legal/legislative definitions?
- Is there one definition or are there many?
- What are they key principles behind the term?
- What do these principles mean to policy?
- Who should implement these policies? Congress? FCC? Courts?

PANELISTS:
DeeDee Hallek, Media Activist, Professor, Independent Filmmaker
Sam Husseini, Institute for Public Accuracy
Eric Galatas, FreeSpeech TV

PANEL #3: Strategies for Building & Networking Public Media.
3:00 - 4:20

- What models of media democracy do we want? What's it look like?
- What are the role & relationships of media democracy for:
1) media activists
2) independent media producers (film, audio, video, print, etc.)
3) community groups (representing the under-reported, etc.)
- Looking both inwardly and outwardly, what kinds of coalitions exist?
- How should coalitions work? What are the priorities?
- Where do we go from here?

PANELISTS:
Jay Sand, Media Activist (IMC pioneer)
Walda Katz-Fishman, Project South, Howard University
Jennifer Pozner, Women In Media & News (WIMN)
See also:
http://www.americanresurrection.com/
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HEY! Now you know about it...want a ride??
19 Mar 2002
We're passing through Boston Thursnight, back Sunday...