Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How to Speak to the FCC

The Federal Communications Commission has released the official schedule for their hearings in Chicago on media regulation (click here for the pdf, or here for the Word document.) The hearings, open to the public and with most of the time set aside for comment from TV viewers, will be held at the Operation Push National Headquarters 930 East 50th Street, at the corner of South Drexel Blvd. They'll be using Dr. King’s Workshop, a 1,200-seat venue, so that they're ready for big crowds.

This is the public's chance to speak directly to the five commissioners at the FCC about how broadcasters should be regulated. Back in 2003, the FCC adopted new rules on media ownership that would have allowed media conglomerates to own a larger share of the market, greatly increasing consolidation and reducing minority input at the management level. The public outcry was fast and furious. Over 1 million people sent letters to the FCC, and the U.S. Senate publically rebuked the Commission for its stance. A court challenge forced the FCC to start over from scratch.

That's why they're coming to Chicago for the 5th of 6 planned hearings around the country.

There are many perspectives on what's wrong with broadcasting today. ICPR has been tracking coverage of local government, campaigns, and elections for years. We've found that TV news broadcasts throughout the Chicago media market spend more time touting themselves and their upcoming stories than they do covering local campaigns, government and elections. Ensuring that these stations remember their obligation to local viewers is an essential role for the FCC.

TV viewers from around the Midwest now have a rare opportunity to speak directly to the five Commissioners who will decide how to ensure that broadcasters serve the public interest. Viewers should seize this opportunity.

For more information on these hearings, click on these links:

Benton Foundation
Broadcasting and Cable (magazine)
Chicago Media Action:
Free Press
Illinois PIRG

Monday, September 17, 2007

STATE’S MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR CONSTRUCTION PLANS NEED SAFEGUARD AGAINST POLITICS

Government reform advocates on Monday said the multi-billion dollar construction program about to be debated in Springfield has made the need for limitations on pay-to-play contracting opportunities even more obvious and more important.

“When the Senate returns to Springfield on Monday to take care of its unfinished business from the spring session, House Bill 1 should be at top of its list of things to do,” said Cynthia Canary, Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. “The Senate should act swiftly to pass HB 1 and prohibit large state contractors from contributing to the campaign committees of the officeholder awarding the contract.”

The House approved HB 1 by a vote of 116 to 0 on April 25, but the Senate leadership has not allowed it to be debated in the Senate.

“This state government’s reputation as a cultivator of corruption is well deserved, and Illinoisans have good reason to question the likelihood that a multi-billion dollar construction road and transit program will be run on the up and up,” Canary said. “There is serious talk of spending an extra $5 billion per year for each of the next five years and – unless there is a change in law –some contractors will likely feel pressured to contribute to the Governor’s campaign committee and that is not how the people’s business should be conducted.”

The governor’s closest ally in the General Assembly is Senate President Emil Jones, and Jones is responsible for blocking the progress of HB 1. For more than four months, Jones has refused to allow the Senate to vote on HB 1.

Despite Jones’ public claim that he’d like more comprehensive reform, the Senate has failed to produce alternate legislation. Sponsored by 46 of 59 Senate members, HB 1, if called for a vote would pass out of the Senate and go to the Governor’s desk for signature immediately.

“With barely a whimper of protest from his followers in the Senate Democratic Caucus, Senate President Emil Jones has stood in the way of this government reform bill by refusing to assign it to committee,” Canary said. “It’s time he stopped carrying water for Gov. Blagojevich and instead give taxpayers some hope that their money might be spent without regard to political fundraising.”

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Feds are Really Coming

Earlier we posted that the Federal Communications Commission will soon hold a rare public hearing. A few more details have emerged. The FCC is holding its fifth official public hearing on media ownership issues in Chicago on Thursday, September 20th.

Date: Thursday, September 20th
Time: 4:00pm-11:00pm
Location: Operation Push National Headquarters
Dr. King's Workshop
930 East 50th Street
(corner of South Drexel Blvd.)
Chicago, Illinois 60615

Start thinking now about what your testimony might look like!