Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, November 9, 2007

LIVE from Town Hall: FCC hearing extended until midnight

It's past 11:00 PM Pacific Time and the auditorium here at Town Hall is still about half filled as people continue to testify against the Kevin Martin's proposed changes to media ownership rules.

The FCC's moderator has just announced the hearing will be extended until midnight Pacific time, allowing many of those who are signed up and waiting to testify at the open microphone to do so.

Several of those testifying in the last hour have addressed Chairman Martin directly, asking him to either stop the scheme he's proposed, or resign from the FCC, or both. I wonder if he's getting uncomfortable under that suit...

SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE: Well, the hearing finally ended at 1:06 AM earlier today (Pacific time) having gone on two hours and six minutes later than originally intended. The FCC's moderator got to the very end of the list of people who were signed up to testify. But not everyone whose name he read off came forward: half or more of the people who could have testified after 11 PM had already left thinking they wouldn't get the opportunity.

Some of the late testimony was highly entertaining. A few of the speakers asked the commissioners if they were still awake or needed to stretch.

A few went after Chairman Kevin Martin directly, soliciting a response from him. One speaker, summarizing the mood of the hearing, demanded to know if Martin was paying attention and asked him twice.

"Do you understand what we're saying? That we're terrified of losing our democracy?" he asked, pausing to wait for an answer.

Showing signs of life, Martin appeared to repeat the question, "Do I understand what you're saying?" and then answered definitely, "Yes".

Another speaker asked Martin if he was capable of smiling, given his passive expression all evening. Responding to her encouragement, Martin did force a smile. It was pretty funny. Apparently Martin was listening, at least some of the time. If he's heard the people then he must know there is no popular support for what he has proposed and what he is doing.

Yet another speaker, towards the end, voiced this sentiment by saying, "I really hope, Chairman Martin, that you take this hearing as seriously as the people in this room" ...many of whom rearranged their schedules to attend. Several speakers elicited laughs by thanking the commissioners for coming "on such short notice."

One speaker, who I believe was from the local screen actors' guild, jumped off on stage and addressed the commissioners directly, reminding Kevin Martin that George W. Bush leaves office in 2009 and his days are numbered, but that he still has a responsibility to serve the public, and that one of the ways to do so would be to ensure the public's access to the 700 mhz wireless spectrum that is supposed to be auctioned off beginning this January.

I was amazed at how so many people were able to share their very angry and unhappy feelings, their outrage, in such a productive way. There was emotion and passion... but it was controlled and channeled all evening long.

The Federal Communications Commission heard testimony 99.9% opposed to relaxing media ownership rules. Whether that will mean anything to Kevin Martin and his Republican allies is doubtful, but we will see.


Blogger radioactivegavin said...

Thanks for the great coverage, Andrew. It was a huge night for the media justice movement, though clearly more people of color and youth would have attended if we had been given adequate notice.

Hey, just to clarify, that was me who jumped up onstage, mentioned that Martin is on his way out, and then walked across to their table and shook his hand. I really do think it took a lot of courage to come and face people he knows are 99% against him.

The head of the FCC Media Bureau invited me to come backstage and speak with Martin, and he told me that wireless spectrum is a big and important issue. He hinted that I would be happy with the results of the auction that is coming soon, and got my contact information. His hands are very soft.

I'm not an actor, but I host a weekly radio on KAOS Olympia, called Digital Crossroads Fridays at Noon, that streams live online at iTunes and with both Windows and Real Player as well as airing from Shelton to Ft. Lewis to Centralia on 89.3fm. For more information, see:

-Gavin Dahl

November 10, 2007 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I gave a statement last night but I left the night feeling like the commissioners were going to do what they wanted and didn't care what we wanted.

I was surprised by the person who talked about the mob taking things back. I've been hearing this more and more in the meetings that I have attended in the past six months. When I was a kid, we had black panthers in our neighborhood who came to our house during parties to recruit people. The comments I've been hearing lately remind me of that. I think people are beginning to realize that we have more power than we thought. When enough people get pissed off, they can take back their rights by force. It would be terribly ironic if we had to use violence to get back the rights that are guaranteed to us by the Constitution. But since a couple of members of my family fought in the American Revolution (my family has been in the U.S. since the 1600's) it makes sense to me that we may have to actually fight our own government to re-establish our rights.

November 10, 2007 2:31 PM  

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