The Federal Communications Commission will hold a public event in Chicago on the proposed merger of Comcast and NBC/Universal. The event will take place on Tuesday, July 13, from 1pm to 8pm -- with a public comment period to run from 6pm to 8pm -- at Northwestern University Law School, Thorne Auditorium, 375 E. Chicago Avenue, in downtown Chicago.
For folks who would like to learn more about the merger, related issues, and would like a chance for feedback on comments or actions, Chicago Media Action will host a training seminar/workshop on Sunday, July 11th, starting at 6 pm, at Cooperative Media Studios, 1000 N. Milwaukee, 4th floor. Both the FCC event and the workshop are free and open to the public.
I would strongly encourage everyone reading this email to attend the July 13th event. In previous events on media ownership in 2003 (the Midwest Forum on Media Ownership, also at Northwestern Law School) and in 2007 (the FCC Media Ownership review at Rainbow PUSH), a lot of folks from Chicago's left/progressive/radical activist community made it a point to attend and speak out. And those actions have helped make a difference in blocking some very bad media ownership rules which would have made our dismal media system far worse.
The time has come to step up to the plate again, and Chicago is playing a role both critical and unique. The event on July 13th is the only hearing the FCC is scheduled to convene on this merger. It could be the ONLY such hearing involving the FCC on this merger to be held anywhere in the United States. Whether or not the merger goes through, or is blocked, or has conditions that affect American media in the future, could well hinge on this hearing, what happens at it, and how everyone responds.
There are a great many reasons to oppose the merger: concentrated media ownership, network neutrality, racial and cultural diversity, labor rights, and consumer rights. You can read more details on why Chicagoans should care about and oppose the proposed merger of Comcast and NBC/Universal here:
But for folks reading this post, I'll highlight one other critical reason: CAN TV, Chicago's fleet of public access television stations, which a great many political activists use as a platform for information and outreach, and which is home to many progressive-minded television shows.
CAN TV won a funding law change in 2004 which would help raise the amount of money CAN TV would get from Chicago's cable providers, but Comcast lobbied against it, saying the law would "prove burdensome" to consumers (although cable costs rise far higher and more frequently than the cost of quality public access). Comcast won a temporary delay of the law, which has still yet to be enacted.
Comcast, if it completes its proposed buyout of NBC/Universal, would gain increased power that would be detrimental to everyone. We encourage you, once again, to attend the event and spread the word. If you have any other questions or would like to discuss the matter further, email cma (at) chicagomediaaction.org.
Thank you, and we'll see you on the 13th.
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