[Imc-sac] Fw: [reclaim the media ] MEDIA: 10 Questions for Every
Candidate and Elected Official
cuibono at rcip.com
Sat Sep 4 19:18:25 PDT 2004
----- Original Message -----
Cc: Les ; CFTM ; reclaim the media
Sent: Friday, September 03, 2004 8:48 AM
Subject: [reclaim the media ] MEDIA: 10 Questions for Every Candidate and Elected Official
Make media reform an election-year issue by asking candidates and officials these ten questions.
You can also download and distribute a PDF of the questions.
10 Questions for Every Candidate and Elected Official
Do you support setting limits on media consolidation - through antitrust law and ownership protections - to prevent large companies from having too much control over what Americans see, hear and read?
Why to ask this: The United States has seen a massive wave of media consolidation over the past two decades. For example, Time Warner alone - in addition to its cable empire reaching 11 million subscribers - controls over 100 magazines, dozens of television networks and record companies, as well as major publishing, Internet, TV and movie production companies.
2) Noncommercial Media
Do you support policies that would increase and preserve funding for public and noncommercial media, and eliminate commercial sponsorship of public radio and TV programs?
Why to ask this: Democratic discourse requires quality sources of information free from advertiser pressure. However, we provide less funding per capita for public broadcasting than most other industrialized countries - by a wide margin.
3) Kids' Marketing
Do you support efforts to reduce commercialism and predatory marketing toward children, and to promote noncommercial educational TV programming for young children?
Why to ask this: Our children today are bombarded with advertising. Parents, teachers, and organizations dedicated to children's issues are growing increasingly concerned as evidence mounts connecting media exposure to a variety of health and behavior problems.
4) Cable Rates
Will you promote consumer choice by setting limits on cable ownership and by supporting policies to encourage the development of competition in cable markets?
Why to ask this: Over the past 5 years, cable rates have risen over 40% nationwide. This is the direct result of government-granted monopolies and lack of competition. The government has stalled on setting reasonable cable ownership limits. Meanwhile, cable companies are increasing their profits as they eliminate communities' ability to negotiate public-interest-oriented cable agreements.
5) Internet Freedom
Do you support open access rules that keep the Internet free and open, and that protect individual privacy from both government and corporations alike?
Why to ask this: The Internet exploded over the past decade in part because Internet Service Providers were required by law to allow access to all websites and users without discrimination. Big cable and telephone companies now want to restrict what users and providers can and cannot access, all in the name of profit.
6) Campaign Coverage
Do you support requiring broadcasters to provide significant free airtime for candidates and public debates as a condition of receiving their government-granted licenses?
Why to ask this: The skyrocketing cost of buying ad time is a major reason candidates raise ever-higher sums of campaign money from wealthy special interests. This year, TV broadcasters - who hold licenses to use publicly-owned airwaves, free of charge - will rake in a record-setting $1.47 billion from political ads. At the same time, news coverage of campaigns, especially on radio and television, has plummeted.
7) Community Media
Do you support giving more communities the ability to transmit their own local programming through strengthened cable access centers and expanded low-power radio services?
Why to ask this: Many communities find themselves and their concerns misrepresented by major broadcasters. Citizens need to hear their own voices over their own airwaves and on their local cable systems, and the capability exists to fulfill this demand. Legislation is pending that would create thousands of new low-power FM radio licenses. Legislation needs to be strengthened to better support PEG access on cable as well as and to include access on satellite.
8) Minority Ownership
Do you support providing incentives to increase diversity in media ownership and leadership?
Why to ask this: Minority ownership of media is at a 10-year low, down 14% since 1997. Today, only 4% of radio stations and 1.9% of television stations are minority-owned. And studies show that the glass ceiling for women is firmly in place at communications companies.
9) Media Workers
Do you support laws that make it easier for media workers to form trade unions and ensure they are paid for their overtime?
Why to ask this: Media consolidation pressures media workers to abandon their professional values in order to generate maximum short-term profits. Trade unions are especially important in media industries because they serve both to protect the rights of workers and to insulate the media's role in our democracy from economic pressure.
Do you support policies that will shorten the terms of copyright and lend balance to the law by allowing fair use for nonprofit and noncommercial purposes?
Why to ask this: Large corporations are buying protection from new competition and technological innovation. No copyrighted work created after 1922 has entered the public domain - an incubator for new ideas - due to legislation extending copyright terms. If laws being considered today had been in effect a few generations ago, consumers might not have access to products such as VCRs and copiers.
WHY ASK THESE QUESTIONS?
Media provide information, the lifeblood of democracy. But today, paid TV ads have replaced political debate. Soundbite journalism and celebrity-obsessed news dominate the airwaves. Content is marinated in commercialism and local coverage is dwindling. In short, the public interest is being sidelined by giant media corporations' insatiable quest for bigger profits.
Asking political candidates and officials to state their positions on media brings these concerns into the public eye and onto the political agenda. Indeed, the future of our media - and our democracy - may depend upon how our elected officials address these ten media issues.
WHEN & HOW TO ASK
Ask these questions at campaign events, at meetings with elected officials or their staff, and by speaking to local groups. At events, ask a question about media during the Q&A session and try to be the first person at the microphone. You can also ask questions through letters or e-mail.
It's also effective to ask these questions indirectly, through letters to the editor of your local paper or by raising them when speaking with local groups about candidates and elections.
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