NASHVILLE — A broad-based coalition of local and national groups is urging the public to turn out for the Federal Communications Commission’s second official hearing on sweeping changes to the nation’s ownership rules.
The FCC public hearing will take place:
Monday, Dec. 11
Hearing Starts at 1 p.m. — Public Testimony until 9 p.m.
Massey Performing Arts Center
1900 Belmont Blvd.
At 12 p.m. noon the Newspaper Guild, Communications Workers of America, American Federation of Musicians and other labor groups will hold a press conference at the hearing site at Belmont University.
All five FCC Commissioners are expected to attend the hearing. The event will feature an “open microphone” session for the public to offer testimony on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit www.stopbigmedia.com/=nashville
The following people are available to provide comments on the event:
U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper, 615-736-5295
I’m excited that pioneers of music and journalism — winners of Grammy Awards and Pulitzer Prizes — are speaking out about media ownership. Preserving a diverse spectrum of media voices is important to Nashville, and it’s essential for a healthy democracy. I look forward to participating in Monday’s hearing.
Harold Bradley, International Vice President, American Federation of Musicians, (615) 364-7391
The public owns the airwaves, but the big corporations that own media outlets determine what we see and hear on the air. As media ownership becomes increasingly concentrated, music on the air has grown more homogeneous, to the detriment of recording musicians, local music communities and the public. The American Federation of Musicians urges the FCC to listen carefully to the Nashville community and then act in the public interest to reduce the consolidation of media ownership.
Jenny Toomey, Future of Music Coalition, (202) 518-4117
Payola is a direct betrayal of the public trust by radio stations and labels. These label profiteers pay enormous sums for song placement in radio’s shrinking and consolidated play lists. Radio stations may put their licenses at risk by flouting anti-payola laws, but without oversight and repercussion it seems they’ve got nothing to lose.
Carolyn Tuft, Award-Winning Investigative Journalist, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Newspaper Guild-CWA, (618) 363-3082
We gather in Nashville with a goal — to protect this country’s democracy by ensuring that as many independent, credible voices are heard on our nation’s airwaves and in the press. We must stop the media conglomerates from stripping the country of more media outlets, further eroding the check and balance that a strong free press provides the public and our democracy.
Reverand L. LaSimba M. Grey Jr., Pastor, New Sardis Baptist Church in Memphis, (901) 832-1629
We are traveling to this hearing from Memphis to encourage the FCC to side with the people rather than corporations on the question of media ownership. Communities of faith have suffered from big media conglomerates’ lack of decency and discretion, and it is time for citizens to speak out, and to encourage the FCC to create policies that support our communities and the public interest.
Tim Marema, Vice President, Center for Rural Strategies, (865) 748-5736
Rural communities have fewer media choices to begin with, and allowing media giants to get bigger only makes things worse. Without diverse sources of civic information, rural residents can’t fully participate in our democracy. That means our nation’s media policy is writing off the 20 percent of Americans who live in rural areas.
Ginny Welsch, Executive Director, Radio Free Nashville, (615) 293-3365
Since Radio Free Nashville signed on in April 2005, the people of West Nashville have had that the access to the local voices and diverse programming that commercial radio broadcasters leave out. We are low power FM, but we offer high-powered service to Nashville, by providing an outlet for community voices that corporate media ignores, teaching broadcast skills to volunteers and programmers, and offering a non-corporate, locally owned alternative to Nashville’s listeners. We are asking the FCC to expand and protect low-power FM radio stations like WRFN and to prioritize localism.
Jen Cartwright, Nashville Peace and Justice Center, (615) 594-7005
Healthy media policy is crucial for a democratic media and an equal and just society. We must improve the diversity and localism of media ownership in order for media to truly serve our democracy, and we’re eager and grateful for the opportunity to present our views to the FCC.
Nell Levin, Tennessee Alliance for Progress, (615) 579-0451
The cornerstone of our democracy is a free and independent media that is not controlled by corporate interests. The FCC needs to expand opportunities to make sure that voices from all sides are heard. Without this, our society is moving more and more in a direction where only those with the most money are heard. This is dangerous to democracy and to the values of freedom, justice and equality. We are calling on the FCC to support a move away from media consolidation toward policies that allow many voices to be heard.
Jessica Baba, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), (615) 775-1069
We need a media responsive to the issues and concerns of our community. The local immigrant community is particularly vulnerable to the effects of media consolidation. In recent months, we’ve seen a wave of anti-immigrant messages across the United States perpetuated by a small number of media corporations. Local owners are in a better position to reflect the voice of the community and are also more accountable to the public.
MaxZine Weinstein, Grassroots Activist
I am a rural Tennessean who is very concerned about the ways in which big media monopolies favor national shows over local programming. The gigantic companies care about making profits, not the well-being of small communities. I am opposed to further media consolidation because it makes it more difficult for small communities to have our needs met.
Mark Naccarato, Nashville Organizer, Democracy for America, (615) 332-0639
It is absolutely critical, in this era of soundbites and ‘infotainment’ that we have media reform to make sure local voices, a wide variety of opinions, and responsible journalism becomes the norm again in American media. These are, in fact, the people’s airwaves — broadcasters use them at our discretion and oversight, not the other way around.
Linda Foley, President, Newspaper Guild-CWA, (202) 434-7175
What’s at stake is the future of local news and information. With the quality and diversity of local news already threatened by the domination of media conglomerates, giving these media moguls more latitude to combine local newspapers and local broadcast stations will result in less exchange of viewpoints, less local news, less public discourse and more civic apathy.
Hannah Sassaman, Prometheus Radio Project, (267) 970-4007
All across the country, churches, schools, and community groups have built their own low power FM radio stations as one solution to media consolidation. WRFN — Radio Free Nashville — and many other supporters of local radio will not sit idly back and let Clear Channel crowd the airwaves that belong to the people of this community.
Gene Kimmelman, Vice President of Federal and International Affairs, Consumers Union, (716) 622-1606
If you already think local newspapers and TV news provide biased coverage, just imagine how much worse things will get if the government lets your local newspaper and biggest TV station combine operations and dominate local news. Tennesseans and all Americans benefit when more competition comes from independently owned news sources, and that’s why it makes no sense for the government to let a few companies dominate the most important sources of local news.
This hearing is a long overdue opportunity for the public to weigh in on the crucial decisions that shape our media. Before letting Sinclair, Gannett or Clear Channel swallow up more local media outlets, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and the other commissioners need to hear how these Big Media firms are serving — or failing to serve — local communities in Tennessee and throughout the South.
You can add your voice but only if you attend!
About Bill Larson
Bill Larson is is politically and socially active in the community. Bill is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave.
You can reach him via telephone at 931-249-0043 or via the email address below.