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: Hearing moves from panel discussion to public input

I should mention that several Pacifica stations are offering live coverage of the FCC hearing tonight which you can listen to. There's also a live video feed courtesy of the Online Video Service.

We've moved from a series of prearranged panel speakers to the open mic public forum part of the hearing. (I'll post a recap on the panel later; my notebook computer was just recharged. Power is hard to come by here at Town Hall.)

The activists and citizens we're hearing from are almost universally opposed to big media consolidation, and are bombarding the commission with sternly voiced testimony. They're eloquent, passionate, informed, diverse, and representative of many communities across the Northwest.

And they're armed with ancedotes, from the coast to the Cascade Mountains and beyond, whether it be unfair practices by cable companies (like stifling access for local community broadcasters) or the obstructions put in the way of independent publishing companies by laws written by big media's attorneys.

One speaker, complaining about the spread of big media, asked, "Have I died and gone to hell?" to loud roars of laughter.

It even got a chuckle from the commissioners.

"I believe the decision about media consolidation has already been bought and paid for [by big conglomerates]," said one speaker, a professor at Cornell University who declared the hearings to be a farce and said he believed his cynicism about the Seattle event was justified. He blasted the failure of investigative journalism in America, which he said was critical to the health of a democracy.

The audience in the Great Hall gave him a loud standing ovation that went on for at least thirty seconds.

"If you press forward with this media consolidation, you are weakening our democracy," another speaker told the Commission.

UPDATE: A representative from Free Press just spoke and noted that 99% of the commenting public is against media consolidation, by the organization's own count of individuals who have spoken at FCC hearings.

We're now hearing from a very eloquent twelve year old who is railing against big media ownership. "Kids are the future...while we fight for democracy in other countries, you will take our democracy away," she admonished.


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