President's Message | July 21, 2020

How are you documenting your organization’s response to  Covid-19?  

Here’s a great way to do it: Create content.

Adam McCune at Goffstown TV in Goffstown, NH told that story for his community and it’s a heartfelt and well done eight minute video.

If you have something similar (or if you create a similar video), please share it with ACM! 

FCC Update 

The FCC on Thursday voted to overhaul the pricing strategy for leased access channels on cable systems – and while several Commissioners wanted to question the constitutionality of the channels themselves, the Commission agreed that it was not their place to act as a constitutional court.  The ruling is here. 

ACM saw this proceeding as a scene setter for battles over PEG channels themselves, and if the pro-industry comments seem familiar, they are the same weaponized First Amendment arguments we saw in MCAC v. Halleck and other cases in several states.  ACM and NATOA argued that it was not the place of the FCC to determine the constitutionality of Congressional mandates – and the FCC agreed.

I was heartened by the comments of Commissioner Starks on the matter:

Despite the robust discussion among commenters in the record about the First Amendment implications of the leased access regime, we wisely decline to pass on the constitutionality of this Congressional mandate. No doubt the marketplace has undergone significant change since the leased access requirements were last updated, with many more options available for viewing content from over-the-top providers and other online sources. But as we make clear in myriad other decisions, not everyone in America is connected to broadband, or has available options for viewing content beyond over-the-air broadcast television and perhaps one cable or satellite provider in their local market. Moreover, there remains a huge disparity in the number of media outlets owned and controlled by people of color and women, which often translates to a lack of locally relevant and diverse programming. 

I therefore disagree with the majority to the extent that it suggests we have done the requisite analysis to conclude that competition has eroded the original justification for the leased access rules, in particular with regard to the need to safeguard diversity. We have done no such analysis. I believe the Commission’s time is better spent focusing on efforts to expand the reach of high-speed broadband and to end disparities in media ownership rather than gratuitously seeking to eliminate statutory protections that are specifically designed to promote and preserve diverse programming sources.

We can expect this battle between broadcasters and content producers and the entities that own infrastructure and distribution to continue.

jesikah maria ross 

Our friend and colleague jesikah maria ross has created a practical and useful guide to how you can begin co-creating significant media in communities.  She’s been honing her craft at Capital Public Radio in California and has now published a Participatory Journalism Playbook in collaboration with Listening Post Collective.

Download jmr’s playbook here. There are lots of great examples for how you can build participatory journalism in your community. 

KatMeow Garcia 
The power of community media lies in authenticity and self-determination – the act of ensuring that media reflects people’s needs and experiences and treats people as subjects of our own history, rather than as objects.  That’s why the Jewell Ryan White award means so much to people in our field and why we are honored to present the award to KatMeow Garcia this past week.

KatMeow’s work at OpenSignal and KBOO in Portland, OR and in community organizations that serve the needs of people is exemplary – but it was the authenticity of their acceptance speech that really touched me.  Congratulations!

Mike Wassenaar
President & CEO
The Alliance for Community Media