Public Broadcasting Reform Update

Posted by Scott - July 6, 2006 (entry 470)

And Good Riddance!
Though public broadcasting's federal funding is once again under fire, you may have noticed that, unlike some groups, CMA has not sent you any urgent emails reflecting the current round of pleadings for "full" funding for a status quo (wholly inadequate and undemocratic) public broadcasting system. In the end, there very likely will be a small federal funding cut, or no cut at all, what with the election season coming up. Check out the DC-based groups on this if you are so inclined. CMA believes that instead of just defensively responding "Oh please, don't reduce current funding levels!", we should also be demanding in unison substantially increased funding and democratic restructuring.

Worse, when public broadcasting reform IS discussed, the main message activists are given by well-intentioned beltway wonks is to get behind a CPB facelift that would leave government appointees in control and do little to encourage or require a comprehensive structural democratization. For example, last November, a key media reform activist interviewed by Amy Goodman on the well-named "Democracy Now!" program hedged when asked about the composition of the proposed national pubcast structure, stating "One proposal that we support is to have 13 board members, eight of whom are White House presidential appointees". (read this transcript, near the end) CMA has done the math and our position on all this is quite in agreement with the recent statement by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). The distinction CMA and FAIR draw on board composition is numerically small - we accept that some national pubcast board trustee seats should probably be appointed. But the differences in how we believe activists should respond to and frame funding attacks by the right is great. Chicago Media Action is certainly in excellent company, but as FAIR's Peter Hart pointed out to me, "It's kinda lonely out here, isn't it?" Perhaps.

democracy - NOW!
We need "Democracy Now!" and democracy - NOW! Post your messages on the Chicago Public Radio message board - click here! Don't be bashful and please, mind your cussing.

GLBT Series "In the Life" Back on WTTW?
With pride month over, we'll see if WTTW makes good on its promise to air each monthly episode of the GLBT series "In the Life".

Sponsored by the FBI
It was recently brought to our attention (tip of the hat brim to Larry) that an entry on an activist web site says that the FBI has been sponsoring the traffic reports on University of Missouri, St. Louis station KWMU-FM! I spoke with Mike Schrand, its program manager, who offered the weak excuse that, yes, this is true, but the traffic report's underwriters/sponsors were chosen in this case by its producer, an outside concern, and passed along to the public station. I was told that I was not the first to complain and that the program provider may be asked to remove the strange FBI ads, which were actually job recruitment ads edited down to just the words, "Today's traffic report is sponsored by the FBI." Downstate Illinois folk, you especially may want to contact KWMU-FM at (314) 516-5968 -

posted by Scott Sanders, Chicago Media Action

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