Jeff Chester throws down a gauntlet

Posted by Mitchell - April 3, 2003 (entry 22)

This shout out goes to everyone who attended yesterday's excellent public forum at Northwestern University's law school on media ownership. Reports about it are no doubt being written, and I myself will probably write something about it in the coming days when time permits.

In the meantime, there's an extraordinary prospect underway in politicizing broadband broadcasting, as reported in an article from Alternet, written by Jeff Chester:

A broadband system possesses the capacity to offer progressives and other groups the opportunity to create new channels and programming services by using a variety of business models. Imagine, for example, that 500,000 progressives agreed to pay $5 a month to support a news service. With a $30 million a year programming budget, that channel could be made available for free and seriously challenge the timidity of both commercial and public TV. A whole range of news and cultural services could be created, including ensuring that independent producers have access to the servers, PVRs, and electronic programming guides that will be at the heart of the new interactive TV landscape. But first we have to secure access to the treasure trove of channel capacity held by cable and satellite companies.

What can be done? First, progressives will have to craft a legislative strategy that breaks the cable and satellite stranglehold over channel capacity. They will have to mount efforts at the local level as well, challenging the ways in which cable, for example, intends to serve the public with its new technology. Finally, they will have to develop plans that will lead to the creation of real programming alternatives. While we should continue to pressure the networks through demonstrations and other efforts, we must also strive for more long-term fundamental changes.

The history of U.S. communications in the twentieth century was marked by a striking common theme. During each major transition to a new medium

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed on this website are those of the individual members of Chicago Media Action who authored them, and not necessarily those of the entire membership of Chicago Media Action, nor of Chicago Media Action as an organization.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.