Meet Hannah Sassaman, Prometheus Radio Project

Can you believe that we're already at the seventh installment in our MyDD interview series called Hearing Progressive Voices? Why, it seems as if it was just yesterday that I was thinking, hey, interviewing interesting progressives via instant messenger would be fun, educational, and -- because IM produces an instant transcript -- easy. I'm particularly pleased to have had the chance to chat today with Hannah Sassaman. Hannah is the Program Director for the Prometheus Radio Project, a Philadelphia-based group that helps set up community radio stations and fights for a media landscape that is more fair, more balanced, and more open to all.

The particular focus of Prometheus' fight these days is Low Power FM -- small, community-based radio stations that have a broadcast range of only a handful of miles. In a day and age where Clear Channel owns more than a thousand radio stations across the country, community radio is a means by which the people can communicate, organize, and effect change. But the future of LPFM in America is not certain. Legislation passed by Congress has restricted low-power stations to small cities and towns, claiming concerns over interference with full-power stations of the sort owned by Clear Channel and other corporate broadcasters. There's a chance in the 110th Congress to re-open the radio spectrum to local broadcasting, and even the rare opportunity this fall to grab full-power licenses for non-profit broadcasters. In this interview, Hannah and I discussed deejay-public feedback loops, untying the hands of the FCC, and Prometheus' pirate radio roots.

Hannah eloquently explains the importance of both Low Power FM and telecom policy that frees at least some lines of communication from corporate control. But me, I think it's summed up well in the words of that bard of my generation, John Mayer: "when they own the information, oh, they can bend it all they want."

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The Fairness Doctrine

Please don't ask me how I stumbled onto Townhall.com -- I watched their GM Chuck DeFeo at today's Beyond Broadcast conference and from that point forward I blame Google -- but I did. And in doing so, came across Ohio's Ken Blackwell going on about the impending threat of the Fairness Doctrine, an old FCC reg largely done away with under the Reagan Administration.

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Hope for a New Year Gone at 8:35 AM

People often shut me off.  They just don't want to entertain the possibilities of what I have to say.  Deep down they know it's real but denial is a very thick wall to bash through.

At 8:35 AM on NBC with Matt Lauer I heard the term MILF used in it's proper context.  Matt was not the one who said it, one of the panel members said it, some black guy.  Sorry I can't be more specific but over the years I have developed my own personal firewall against American MSM media an it's Satanic memes.  I'm glad I don't have little kids anymore asking "Hey Daddy, what's a MILF".

Seems a tad ironic though when we passed animal terrorist legislation and we want to up the prison sentences for people convicted of "hate" crimes.  What we do have though is a merger of governement and corporate.  Yes, you are free to buy stuff, consume but otherwise shut up.

It's a New Year but it only means the clock has turned, only another day in the decline of America.

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FCC and Dingell-grams: Democrats Begin Oversight

Ok, so one of the subtler pieces of a Democratic takeover of Congress that you may not notice is that government is starting to work again.  Let's take the FCC, the agency in charge of making sure our communications infrastructure is managed on behalf of the public interest.  Here's the latest little incident from the FCC in which they grant power to big telecom, which the right-wingers who run the commission assume would go on unhindered, business as usual being the usual.

Kevin Martin, the Chairman of the FCC and a rabid right-wing partisan, was all set to force through a merger between AT&T and Bellsouth, creating the largest telecommunications company in the country.  This has serious implications for net neutrality, because one of the conditions of the deal that AT&T has rejected is protections for net neutrality.  With such a massive footprint, AT&T's market power would be excessive and their investment patterns would be determinative for the future of the internet.

The Washington Wire has the best summary I've read.

On Friday, Martin informed congressional leaders and incoming House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D., Mich.) that he's asked the FCC's general counsel to decide whether Republican FCC member Robert McDowell should be cleared to vote on AT&T Inc.'s pending purchase of BellSouth Corp. McDowell has questioned whether he should vote since he most recently lobbied on behalf of a trade group that represents smaller phone companies, which oppose the deal. The merger review has bogged down in partisan politics at the FCC, which is split 2-2 without McDowell's vote.

The general counsel was expected to announce his decision as soon as today. On Tuesday evening, however, he received a dreaded "Dingell-gram" from the incoming chairman's office. House Democrats are seeking answers to 15 detailed questions about the chairman's interest in clearing McDowell "by Monday, December 11."

Martin was going to force McDowell to unrecuse himself so that the merger could go through without AT&T having to make any concessions.  He still may do that so he can call in favors later when he pursues political office in North Carolina, as he is rumored to want to do.  But he's going to get pulled before Dingell in the House if he breaks the administrative process so egregiously and inappropriately.  Dingell-grams are scary pieces of paper, because Dingell is a very smart bulldog legislator who knows how to investigate and conduct hearings.  And the FCC hasn't had any oversight in a LONG time.

Oh yeah, and Ed Markey, telecommunications subcommittee chair, and Daniel Inouye, Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, also have statements on this gross violation of process to benefit AT&T.

This is what oversight looks like, my friends.  A Democratic Congress protects the public, and doesn't let Bush cronies grant power to business elites through abusive practices.  Remember that the next time you hear pundits freaking out about whatever stupid piece of nonsense they gin up about Pelosi or Hoyer or Reid...

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FCC Hearing In Los Angeles Tuesday--Oct 3

There's a rare FCC hearing in Los Angeles on Tuesday, held in two parts.  StopBigMedia.com sez:

After months of silence, the Federal Communications Commission announced that its first official public hearing on media ownership will be held in Los Angeles on Tuesday, October 3.

The hearing will occur at two venues with an afternoon and an evening session; there will be an opportunity for public testimony at both sessions. It's critical that you turn out for either of these events to let FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and the FCC Commissioners know how the media is serving your community.

This may be the public's last chance to speak out against Big Media before Martin moves to lift the last significant limits to runaway consolidation.

If you live in or around Los Angeles, it's critical that you take the time to come to at least one of the hearings.

Details on flip...

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