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[P]
A Plea for Public Access Television

By ip4noman in Media
Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 06:10:51 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

The United States Constitution defines a limited government, and the first ten Amendments are a Bill of Rights guaranteeing certain freedoms to the sovereign people. The First Amendment asserts our rights of Free Speech, Freedom of Belief, and a Free Press, as these things were considered by our Founding Fathers to be absolutely necessary to a well-functioning democracy.

But consider that most people in America receive 90%+ of their news from traditional media (newspapers, television, and radio owned by for-profit corporations), and you realize that we don't have a free press today, and our republic may be in danger because of it. Today, we have a commercial press, which something really very different from "free", in every sense of the word.

There is a power-shift occuring now with alternative media, from Indymedia, Pacifica Radio, and K5. However most people get most of their news from television.

Public Access Television was created to help balance the power of the huge monopoly media giants. Unfortunately, most people don't know what it is all about

This article presents a history of Public Access Television, and gives information about how to become involved to make your own TV shows. If you don't have a facility in your town, we'll tell you how to get one!

[Note: This essay may be a bit US-centric, because this is where I live, and these are the laws which I've studied. However, Public Access is worldwide...]


Why do we need Public Access Television?

"It is arguable that the success of business propaganda in persuading us, for so long, that we are free from propaganda is one of the most significant propaganda acheivments of the twentieth century." -- Alex Carey, Taking the Risk Out Of Democracy
It is not within the charter of the commercial press to inform, or educate. It's not about promoting the useful arts and sciences, philosophy and meaningful political debate. The commercial media is about one thing: PROFIT. Making money, selling our captive neural pathways to corporate propagandaists, also known as advertising executives and Public Relations consultants.

Their propaganda (advertising) is designed to: first, make you feel lacking, imperfect, diseased, afraid, and alone, then, to make you believe that the cure for your problems is shopping.

Our Free Press, it seems, has been sold out. The best we have is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, but they're still pretty corporate. "Paid for by Archer Daniels Midland: Supermarket to the World, and Pepsico: Sugary Caffeinated Drinks to the World!, and General Electric: Nuclear Weapons to the World". Is it any wonder that the entire range of debate on the Jim Lehrer News Hour is not IF we should go to war, but WHEN? Or that All Things Considered considers everything except peace, the environment, the rights of the accused, and government and corporate responsibility?

In my city and the surrounding area, there are about 15 radio stations, 6 broadcast television stations, and half dozen newspapers. I've been doing research to find out who owns these, and found a tangled web of corporate tendrils: cross ownership in the same market of multiple media types, wealth-concentrating corporate synergies and for-profit partnerships, not suprisingly, acting in their own self-interest.

Names like ClearChannel, Citadel, Gannett, AOL/Time Warner, Viacom, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, and Disney control almost everything we see and hear, and they control thousands of similar "properties" nationwide, from small to large newspapers, billboards, book and magazine publishing, even communication satellites. One company in town (ClearChannel) owns six radio and two television stations, and owns 1200 radio stations nationwide!!

These massive monopoly media corporations produce the content, and they control the distribution, seemingly in conflict with anti-trust laws. They abhor competition and absorb their competitors. Their corporate offices aren't even based in the communities which they serve. And you can better believe their reason for doing business in your town is to remove profits.

But all corporations are chartered by the government to act in the public interest. (They must be, because the granting authority, the government, is itself chartered to act in the public interest!) However, like their fellow legal fictions Enron, WorldCom, and Arthur Anderson, they have showed an utter contempt for us, and where accumulating profits is concerned, that nothing shall stand in their way.

These corporations possess incredible power to influence elections and promote candidates which are known to favor their corporate advertisers, and to silence real dissent and critical thought. (e.g., witness how Ralph Nader and Harry Browne were excluded from the 2000 presidential debates.) These media corporations polarize issues into simple-minded bipolar "Left vs. Right" pseudo-alternatives, and they spin the issues to favor their own interests.

But there is a solution: Non-Commercial, Community Produced media, like Public Access Television.

Public Access Television: History

Now when we talk about Public Access Television (sometimes called PEG in FCC documents, for Public, Education, and Government Access), we are not talking about anything related to the Public Broadcasting Service, National Public Radio, Public Radio International, or the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. These entities were created by federal law, but have become so awash with corporate dollars that any hope of a balanced presentation of the news has been lost.

Also, as stated here, David Barsamian, in his new book "The Decline and Fall of Public Broadcasting,"
points out similarities between the top execs currently running CPB and NPR: "Robert T. Coonrod has been the president and CEO of the CPB since 1997. Prior to joining CPB, Coonrod was deputy managing director of the Voice of America," operated by the U.S. government. Meanwhile, "NPR's president and CEO Kevin Klose served as the director of the International Broadcasting Bureau, which oversees VOA, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, and Radio and Television Marti."
This government and corporate entanglement is the source of the bias and censorship present with PBS/NPR. Public Access Television has a different evolution than PBS, but first let's examine the current state of FCC regulation of the media.

Today's Federal Communication Commission is under Chairman Michael Powell, who is the son of Secretary of State General Colin Powell, who served on the board of AOL, and made 4 million dollars when son Chairman Michael allowed the AOL/Time Warner merger to proceed without scrutiny. With these political and finanical connections, is it any wonder why the FCC has abolished the Fairness Doctrine, requiring the presentation of opposing viewpoints, and the rules against cross-ownership in the same market?

But the FCC (and Congress from which they derive their authority) wasn't always this corporate-friendly. At one time they actually did a pretty good job at trying to ensure a balanced presentation of the news, and equal access to electronic media. Beginning with the 1934 Communications Act, and existing though the 1970's, broadcasters had an obligation to air important issues, and were compelled to air dissenting views.

But the industry was changing fast, and Cable Television providers started springing up. These "community antenna" systems were vitural monopolies in their markets and weilded incredible power. In 1976 (coincidently, two hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence), something revoluntionary happened. To counter the effects of these new monopolies, the FCC made a rule requiring that Cable TV franchisees build Local Origination facilities, i.e., television studios, in the areas where they served, for use by anyone in the community on a first-come, first-serve, non-discriminatory basis. Use of these facilites was to be free, and training was to be very low cost, so that even low income people could easily participate. Public Access Television was born!

You see, in America it is held that the people hold the sovereign (lawmaking) power, and thus the people own the airwaves. The government acts simply as a steward of this precious recource, a guardian acting in the public trust. Just like there exists a public right-of-way on the farm-to-market roads and freeways, there exists similar rights of way over the electromagnetic spectrum, whether travelling though the air, or over buried cables or telephone lines.

That's how it's supposed to work anyway. But something has gone wrong. Something has become perverted. Control has been stolen by the rich and powerful. This is why Public Access Television (and it's sibling, Community Radio) are essential in our system of checks and balances.

How does it get paid for?

Imagine, if we all pool our resources, say, a dollar or two each month. Multiply that by 50,000 or 100,000 people. And what if we are already paying for this now? Now, lets say with that money, we purchase our own production equipment: Television cameras, switchers, lights, VTRs, portable gear, non-linear editting systems... everything we need in order to make television productions just as good as the Home Shopping Network or MTV, and we set it up so anyone in area can take classes, inexpensive classes, like 30-40 dollars each, so that anyone can afford it, and learn to use this equipment?

It turns out this is exactly how it is supposed to be funded, by user-fees, a franchise tax (up to 5%) which is added to everyone's cable bill. However, even though most cable providers provide a public access channel, many communities have little or no public access television facilities to use.

How to make your own Public Access Television Show.

Jello Biafra says, "Don't hate the media; become the media!". Public Access Television is supposed to allow us free access to the tools of television production.

So if you want to become involved, first contact your local cable television provider. Ask to speak with the Public Access Coordinator, and ask about taking classes to learn how to use the Local Origination facilities for Public Access productions. Chances are, you will have to call and talk with several people until you finally find the person who knows what you are talking about. (A list of many of these facilities is located at the Global Village CAT)

If you are very lucky, you can take a class, probably about 5-6 weeks long, and become studio certified. The people in your class will probably end up helping each other on productions, and the instructor may be able to give you contacts to producers who are already making shows. (It is best to crew on other shows for a while before making your own television production)

There are many tasks to be done, but remember that it's all volunteer work: don't expect to get paid to run camera for someone. That's not what Public Access is all about.

What if there is no Public Access facility in your town?

Now things get a bit more difficult. There may be a facility in a nearby town where you can make shows. Also, in most towns without a facility, you can still produce shows on your own equipment and have them cablecast on your cable network, free of charge.

But if you want to get a real facility in your town, you have a lot of work to do, and it could take years. But the payoff is fantastic in the cultural change that occurs in cities which have a thriving community of Public Access producers, and the wonderful fun to be had!

So, you must first obtain the Franchise Agreement. This is a contract between your city and the cable provider which defines the service that they must provide. Are there Public Access provisions there that aren't being met? Are there other areas of non-compliance which can be used as leverage? Has your town received all the franchise fees that they are owed? Is the franchise up for renewal soon?

You should be able to obtain this document by filing a Freedom of Information Act request with your town clerk. They may charge you a small amount for photocoping costs.

Where you go from here is not easy to guess, as there are many possible paths, depending on what you find. You will have to become a bit of a politician. You may have to attend city council meetings, and you will probably have to speak with the management of the cable provider. You will also have to research the laws in your state, federal laws, and the history of Public Access.

It will not be easy. I have been working for nearly 2 years in my city, but there are signs of progress. Our franchise is up for renewal, so the cable provider has an incentive to look good in the eyes of the community.

So, get up off your butt and GET INVOLVED! Make your own TV show!

"Don't hate the media; BECOME the media!" -- Jello Biafra
I hope this essay has piqued your interest, and you get involved in making your own television shows. It is more fun than you can imagine!

Resources:

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Login

Poll
Are you a Public Access producer?
o Yes, active 1%
o Yes, not active 7%
o No, but interested 57%
o No, don't care at all 33%

Votes: 56
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Scoop
o First Amendment
o Indymedia
o Pacifica Radio
o K5
o Public Access is worldwide...
o Public Relations consultants
o Corporatio n for Public Broadcasting
o Jim Lehrer News Hour
o All Things Considered
o city
o ClearChannel
o Citadel
o Gannett
o AOL/Time Warner
o Viacom
o News Corporation
o Disney
o Public Broadcasting Service
o National Public Radio
o Public Radio International
o stated here
o Federal Communication Commission
o who served on the board of AOL, and made 4 million dollars
o Fairness Doctrine
o the rules against cross-ownership in the same market?
o the FCC made a rule
o Community Radio
o Global Village CAT
o There are many tasks to be done
o Global Village CAT
o PublicAcce ssTV.net
o Reclaim the Media
o Media Monoply, by Ben Bagdikian
o Manufacturing Consent
o Necessary Illusions
o Democracy Now!
o Program on Corporations Law and Democracy
o Ratical.or g
o When Corporations Rule the World
o Alliance for Community Media
o My story
o FCC fact sheet on cable television
o 47 USC 531
o Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
o Also by ip4noman


Display: Sort:
A Plea for Public Access Television | 132 comments (115 topical, 17 editorial, 1 hidden)
Don't hate the media, don't become the media. (4.28 / 7) (#2)
by hettb on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 11:36:31 AM EST

Ignore the media.

clarify (5.00 / 1) (#11)
by akb on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:41:00 PM EST

I can't tell if you're joking or if you mean ignore the mainstrea media. You participate in k5 so you aren't ignoring "the media".

Collaborative Video Blog demandmedia.net
[ Parent ]

"Do as I say, not as I do." (n/t) (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by hettb on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 01:24:29 PM EST



[ Parent ]
That's cute, but tangential at best (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by pgdn on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 06:47:07 PM EST

I think it's safe to assume that the author isn't suggesting that we all start public access shows so that we can be more informed on the issues. The idea (and yes, I admit it's an optimistic one, but well-intentioned) is to provide an alternative viewpoint to people who haven't thought of turning off the tv and never will. If I ignore the media, there's almost no chance that will affect anyone other than me.

[ Parent ]
More power to you (3.66 / 3) (#8)
by Anatta on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:30:15 PM EST

Just don't make me pay for it.
My Music
You don't have to pay for it. (5.00 / 2) (#13)
by ip4noman on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:45:16 PM EST

It's paid for by user fees, or alternatively, as a tax on the cable provider. (Same thing, really).

However, if you choose to pay for cable, only then do you pay for Public Access. The revenues for Public Access only increase as more people subscribe to cable. It is classic negative feedback, which tends to push systems towards equilibrium, just as a tax on tobacco to fund cancer research, or a tax on gasoline to fund road repairs would be reasonable and prudent.

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
interesting (3.00 / 2) (#29)
by tps12 on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 01:48:12 PM EST

What if I never watch it? Do I get a refund?

[ Parent ]
No... (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by Danse on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 03:15:13 PM EST

Why would you? I don't watch most of the channels that the cable company bundles together to sell. I don't get a refund though.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
But... (3.00 / 1) (#59)
by Ken Arromdee on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 05:39:44 PM EST

If it costs money for the channel, normally whether it is included in the bundle will depend on whether the audience is willing to pay for it. An individual can't refuse to pay for just one channel from the bundle, but the audience as a whole ultimately can.

Since your channel will be compulsory, the audience will not be able to do that. Thus the need for a refund.

[ Parent ]

Well... (5.00 / 1) (#65)
by Danse on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 06:33:06 PM EST

I would think that would be up to consumers to decide. There are some channels that come with every single package option that my cable provider (TW/AOL) offers. No matter what package you buy, you're going to get those channels whether you want them or not. No option for refund. So unless these channels cause a substantial increase in the cost of every package offered, I doubt consumers will reject them. And if they do, well then the experiment is concluded. The channels will die because nobody wants them. I don't think that will happen though. Most people kind of like the idea of public access, even if they never watch it.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
required (3.66 / 3) (#79)
by akb on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 08:56:18 PM EST

Cable operators are required to offer a basic package of at least broadcast stations and public access channels.  I forget if that's a federal law or if its a standard requirement of the franchise agreement with the municipality that is letting them lay cable.

Collaborative Video Blog demandmedia.net
[ Parent ]

Basically Correct (4.66 / 3) (#80)
by Neil Rubin on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 09:46:01 PM EST

The 1992 Cable Act gives local broadcast stations the right to demand that cable systems carry their signals. This "might carry" provision was upheld in a 1997 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court case, Turner v. FCC. Broadcasters also may demand placement on particular channels (so channel five on your cable box gives you the same thing as channel five over the air). Alternately, if broadcasters elect not to assert their "must carry" right, they may insist that cable providers get permission to carry their signals. They can then negotiate financial payment or other concessions.

It's really a nice "have your cake and eat it too" deal that the NAB got out of Congress. Whether the FCC will extend "must carry" to include both a station's digital signal and its analog signal remains an open question.

I believe that public access channels are generally required by the franchise agreement.

[ Parent ]

So? (none / 0) (#103)
by Ken Arromdee on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 11:01:59 AM EST

The argument "well, the government's already forcing you to pay for it" isn't all that relevant to whether forcing you to pay for it is good or bad. Someone mentioned marijuana above--would you justify marijuana-related arrests by pointing out that the law as it currently is lets the police arrest you for growing marijuana?

[ Parent ]
You're arguing with the wrong person (none / 0) (#107)
by Neil Rubin on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 12:51:54 PM EST

I haven't expressed an opinion on whether public access requirements should exist. I was just clarifying another poster's comments about "must carry" requirements.

[ Parent ]
Uh oh (4.66 / 6) (#9)
by RyoCokey on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:31:10 PM EST

There is a power-shift occuring now with alternative media, from Indymedia, Pacifica Radio, and K5. However most people get most of their news from television.

Does this mean Kuro5hin is going to have telethons now? The horror. The horror.



If there really is a causation between porn and rape, then I say bring on the bukkak
Wanye's World!!! Wayne's World!!! (4.00 / 3) (#22)
by Run4YourLives on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 01:17:24 PM EST

Party Time!!! Excellent!!! Woo Woo Woo Woo Woo!!!

Seriously though... Although I agree with the premise, public access tv usually, well, licks donkey balls.

However, non-US "public" tv (read CBC, BBC, RAI, etc), although a far cry from "proper" public tv, IMO, is at least better than watching ted tuner's CNN, or Fox News (btw, who the hell would expect "News" from the network that brought you, "Marry a Millionaire" - this is a mute point, quit making it, please.)

Anyways, to cut my ramble off now (and make my point), I think "we" should leave tv alone, and focus on the internet, while we still have it.

 We all agree that the powers that be are trying their hardest to consolidate powers to dominate this media as well. I think we should concern ourselves with that. The people who watch "Access Hollywood" for their daily "news" are a lost cause in more ways than this one.


It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown

Doesn't have to be like Wayne and Garth (none / 0) (#30)
by ip4noman on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 01:50:47 PM EST

Seriously though... Although I agree with the premise, public access tv usually, well, licks donkey balls.
Well, the first step is to get them to provide us with the tools. The next step is learning / emphesizing production values.

I will admit that some PA productions flat out suck, and some that I just don't find interesting. But some things I find VERY interesting, and no doubt someone is a huge fan of the shows which I don't like.

Just like with commercial media, some things will stink, and some will be great. Public Access is not about the best production values (most facilities I've worked in run with 5-10 year old equipment and on a shoestring budget). Public Access *is* about giving everyone a voice and to influence political debate of a society.

Here are some topics of shows which I have seen on Public Access, and no where else:
  • Pagan religions, Wicca, Hindu, Buddhism, Quaker, Atheism
  • Libertarian and Green party candidates and philosophy
  • Marijuana legalization advocacy
  • Vegetarianism and Animal Rights
  • local environmental issues
  • Corporate criticism
  • Pacifism, Non-violence advocates, peaceniks
  • Local music
  • art shows
  • philosophical debates
  • Anarchism, Socialism, Marxism, Communism as a valid political and economic theories, criticism of Capitalism and America's corporate rule
And no matter how you feel about *these* topics, you are certain to see and hear things in public access which interest you and seen no where else. And if you don't see what you like, you get to *create* what you want to see!

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
US-Centric (none / 0) (#35)
by Run4YourLives on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:08:23 PM EST

I see all of the things you mentioned (and hockey games too) on the CBC/NW here in Canada... get yourself a satellite and see what you're missing.

But I digress... my point was that I think "we" should focus our energies on alternative media projects (such as K5) instead of trying to influence a medium that is used by most people as a daily "fix" of mind numbing entertainment.

I think the real reason Public TV has a tough time is that, well, most people don't want to watch shows on the formentioned topics.
 

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

PA is not just about these things... (none / 0) (#38)
by ip4noman on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:16:09 PM EST

I think the real reason Public TV has a tough time is that, well, most people don't want to watch shows on the formentioned topics.

Public Access, of course, is not just about these topics. However (in the US anyway), Public Access is the only place where you will.

PS: I dig the King quote, and added it to my quotes file at Vegdot.

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
that's what I mean... (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by Run4YourLives on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:22:03 PM EST

Public Access, of course, is not just about these topics. However (in the US anyway), Public Access is the only place where you will.

Not really, look where you are now! :-)

I know you mean TV, but that's what I'm saying...

I think TV as a medium has reached it's limitations... It's time we move on. Leave it to the drooling mobs waiting to see who fucks who on big brother. We have the internet, which is much a much more powerful medium IMHO.

Thanks about the sig... I really liked it too.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Tools in the proper hands (none / 0) (#51)
by ip4noman on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 03:44:30 PM EST

I think TV as a medium has reached it's limitations... It's time we move on. I respectfully disagree. Amazing things can be done with the tools in the proper hands: Ours!

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Free (4.62 / 8) (#25)
by godix on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 01:33:03 PM EST

"Today, we have a commercial press, which something really very different from "free", in every sense of the word."

As the linux folks have found out, the word free has many different definitons. In the first ammendment, the word free means 'without government control'. It has nothing to do with what % of press is commercially controlled, which commercial entities control it, if the press self censors for whatever reason, etc. AOL/TW could own 100% of the magazine published in America and forbid them from ever saying that AOL sucks, but as far as the consitution is concerned the press would still be free.

You repeatedly make the mistake of thinking 'free press' should mean free from commercial control throughout the article. You really need to correct this.


Don't mind the plummeting noise, mojo always makes that sound after I post.


Not a mistake: central theme (3.20 / 5) (#26)
by ip4noman on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 01:36:10 PM EST

You repeatedly make the mistake of thinking 'free press' should mean free from commercial control throughout the article.
This is a central point and not a mistake. Read the Bagdikian and/or the Chomsky books cited in references to understand this more fully.

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Re: Free (1.00 / 2) (#37)
by bob6 on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:15:04 PM EST

In the first ammendment, the word free means 'without government control'.
How do you know? If those who wrote the constitution wanted to mean that way they would have called it 'without government control'.
I believe that the power of the first amendment power lies on the lack of definition of 'free'. So it can apply to a wide variety of situations, as a result of what it has been active for more than two centuries.
The article is about what 'free' would mean for television which, may I recall you, didn't exist at the time the first amendment was written. The author also emphases on the current situation that calls for a different understanding of 'free' from two centuries ago and from two centuries ahead.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
how does he know? (5.00 / 2) (#41)
by ceejayoz on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:35:24 PM EST

How do you know? If those who wrote the constitution wanted to mean that way they would have called it 'without government control'.

How does he know?  Have you even read the amendment?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

[ Parent ]

Okay, sorry (none / 0) (#48)
by bob6 on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 03:20:23 PM EST

It does mean without government control. But not exclusively.
Doesn't the article point out a situation where free speech is 'abridged'? Of course the government doesn't affect directly the speech but this situation may be eventually a result of its policy toward media. The government has to not control speech, but it also has to guarantee free speech. Even constitutions aren't free from interpretation.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
Why do I bother? (none / 0) (#88)
by godix on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 01:52:19 AM EST

"Doesn't the article point out a situation where free speech is 'abridged'?"

There are limits on any freedom. In the case of speech the limits are basically libel (flat out lying about someone/thing in order to slur them), threatening someone ('I put a bomb in school'), or posing a public danger (the bomb statement would cause danger through panic even if it wasn't true). These limits make sense, especially if you consider that the reason for the limits is to prevent other peoples rights from being infringed.

Incidently, in my opinion the FCC regularly violates the first ammendment. The best, and recently only, example of the government violating free speech rights and the original article doesn't mention it.

"Of course the government doesn't affect directly the speech but this situation may be eventually a result of its policy toward media."

I personally can get in trouble if I said you slept with goats and enjoyed bending over for priests, that's libel. If Time published an article about you sleeping with goats and jerking off bishops it's still libel. The limits aren't about if it's media or not, they apply to ANYONE. It's just worse if media says something because they have a wider audience than an individual does.

"The government has to not control speech, but it also has to guarantee free speech."

And it does. You can stand in middle of a park yelling 'GODIX IS A CONSERVATIVE ASSHOLE' and there's nothing I can do about it (opinions can't really be libel). If I tried to stop you (IE hit you) then I could be arrested for it. See, the government protects your free speech rights, what more do you want?

" Even constitutions aren't free from interpretation."

Quite true, interpreting the consitution is pretty much the only thing the Supreme Court does. Where do you think the limits to free speech came from?


Don't mind the plummeting noise, mojo always makes that sound after I post.


[ Parent ]
Thanks for setting him straight (none / 0) (#116)
by ranchdudes on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 04:35:43 PM EST

Justice Holmes famous phrase that "shouting fire in a theater" is not protected speech comes from a decision in which people were prevented from citing the Constitution as an argument against the WWI draft. According to Holmes, citing the constitution and inciting panic is the same thing.

rd

[ Parent ]

Apathy and TV (4.60 / 5) (#31)
by kphrak on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 01:59:18 PM EST

The problem that I see with public access TV is that TV, by its very nature, encourages apathy (just sit, watch, and turn off your brain), so how will the shows you would wish to broadcast thrive?

People also have to like the show. Hollywood eye-candy does a great job of making the manure that gets churned out interesting to the public. By the same token, PBS is considered rather dull, even if it is owned by corporations; even if your show's free as in speech and beer, how will it be useful if no one tunes in to it? Apathy is a deadlier enemy than all the tyrants that ever lived. (Cool, I said something profound. You can quote me on that. ;) )

I think your best hope is in community involvement. Talk to people, all the time, on the show. Hell, come to them! Send neighborhoods flyers asking them about an issue (maybe a local issue, it's often more important to people), and asking them if they want to come on the show and talk about it. If Joe Schmow's relatives and neighbors know he's on TV, you bet they'll want to watch.

Nor do you have to be serious all the time....serious things are good sometimes and bad other times. Ask people for ideas; plenty of people would love to be on TV or to make their own show (make sure you keep things under control, though). Watch "Weird Al" Yankovic's movie "UHF"...yeah, it was stupid, but it reminds me a little of what you'd like to do; shows by the people, for the people; shows that have nothing to do with the mainstream world but will still keep people's attention. For an example of what NOT to do, watch the talk-TV show skit in Monty Python's "How To Irritate People".

Best of luck.


Describe yourself in your sig!
American computer programmer, living in Portland, OR.


Not true (5.00 / 4) (#34)
by krek on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:07:28 PM EST

TV does not encourage apathy by it's very nature, Maket research and focus groups, who's jobs it is to find the lowest common denominator and present the least offensive, least controversial and most generally acceptable content to air, encourages apathy. TV is just a plastic box with some glass and wires in it, anthropomorphising it, and blaming it for your woes does not solve anything.

A real political debate, not those fake pony shows that they like to hold before elections, will almost always inspire at least a small amount of independant thought in most viewers... provided they can maintain focus for that long of course.

[ Parent ]
I still disagree (none / 0) (#40)
by kphrak on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:27:47 PM EST

It is not anthromorphising TV to say that it encourages apathy. That is like saying "To say that the automobile pollutes the environment is anthromorphising it, because people pollute the environment BY driving, and anyway a car is just a set of metal, plastic, and rubber with gas in it."

Consider that the television set is completely non-interactive. You cannot speak to someone with it as on the telephone (although you might shout at it during a football game). You can go through a set of channels that have shows on that someone else made; that's the only work you do as an end user. I rarely fall asleep while writing rants or comments on K5, but I can easily fall asleep in front of a TV. Usually this is because you're in a very comfortable chair; after all, you're not planning on getting up for a while, right? Your show is on. If you like a TV show (which is why you're watching it), you're sitting back and doing nothing as you watch...unless it's an exercise program or some exception. The inactivity of watching TV is inherent, and lack of activity, physical or mental, promotes apathy.


Describe yourself in your sig!
American computer programmer, living in Portland, OR.


[ Parent ]
do books encourage apathy ? (5.00 / 1) (#42)
by nodsmasher on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:43:26 PM EST

i mean you can't talk to somebody through one of those
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
-Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
This is getting off-topic, but... (none / 0) (#43)
by kphrak on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:55:23 PM EST

Books are a whole different ballgame. There are dozens of low-level things you have to know, and that you are using, all the time you read a book. You have to heavily rely upon your imagination, which is a higher-order mental function, to picture the things written in a book. You have to know how to read; the words all have different nuances that mean something, sometimes something quite personal; you have to "connect the dots" more. You don't have to take things for granted; a book can explain a position more, while a television program runs in fixed amount of time and requires more "shorthand" and suspension of disbelief on the part of the user. Sound-bytes don't have to exist in a book.

In addition, if you're watching a live program (and this changes with time-shifting), you've got to keep watching; you can't stop and think about what you just saw. It's a constant stream. You can put a book down and think about it for hours afterwards; if it's a good book, you often do. Television reaches directly to your eyes and ears, bypassing many of the things that force the mind to work. Books have their own problems, but comparing them to TV isn't the best comparison in the world.


Describe yourself in your sig!
American computer programmer, living in Portland, OR.


[ Parent ]
Well, see, it's like this (none / 0) (#44)
by krek on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 03:10:43 PM EST

While I will agree that the large majority of the garbage on TV does very little to combat apathy, and in many cases it can be argued that it actively promotes apathy, I will not agree that this is true of all content on the tube, some of it, in fact, does much to decrease apathy. If a producer was to design a show to actively decrease apathy and promote social and political involment, then I am sure it would work, it may or may not be very popular, but it would be effective on those it reaches. Thus we are faced with a dichotomy, some of the stuff on TV is increasing apathy, and some of it is decreasing apathy, and with a concerted effort, both could be refined into a more effective apathy affector.

A question: If television is capable of both increasing and decreasing apathy, then can it be said to inherently promote apathy?

If you are a rational and reasoning person, I would have to assume that you would answer no.

I have a friend who hates cell phones, it is incredible how frantically angry he gets when one goes off within earshot. His reasoning is that it is annoying to always hear people talking loudly into their phone, and that it is rude to stop a conversation to answer a cell phone.

None of it makes sense to me. I tell him that it is the people that he hates, the cell phones is not rude, nor is it capable of talking loudly, the source of his ire are the rude and loud people of the world, and it is only through the use of cell phones that they become "in your face". I mean, people talk loudly on land lines and interupt conversations to answer them; and people talk loudly in public, no phone needed; I just do not see the difference. Yet, I cannot convince him; he still hates cell phones.

I figure that the real issue is that he is a bit on the poor side, and a technophobe to boot, and can't deal with the fact that he cannot afford to get the cool gadgets, thus he is actually, in a way, jealous, and directs his jealousy, as anger, towards the source of his envy.

[ Parent ]
Certain types of apathy (none / 0) (#118)
by baniak on Sat Aug 24, 2002 at 03:16:42 PM EST

Television is useful for promoting certain types of apathy, but if television only promoted apathy, it wouldn't be in use today...

Television is very useful in decreasing apathy when it comes to making people want a product, but in most instances "where it counts" television promotes apathy...

[ Parent ]

Popular ownership of the Means of Broadcast? (4.83 / 6) (#45)
by PresJPolk on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 03:11:10 PM EST

Let the people who subscribe to cable television decide whether they want to pay extra for some public access channel.  The only reason to mandate it would be that you believe the people *don't* want to pay for it, but you want to force those people to subsidize your wants.

The government doesn't have to force business to sell what people want.  Normal and decaffeinated coffee are both available.  Fast food restaurants sell vegetarian items.  Cable television companies carry HBO and ESPN.  These things people want.  If there isn't public access, then people obviously don't want it badly enough.

Freedom of the press is the freedom to own and use your own press, not the freedom to mooch off of someone else's.

Why the FCC made it compulsory (none / 0) (#50)
by ip4noman on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 03:39:15 PM EST

1) certain ideas will be surpressed in for-profit media, i.e., anything that is perceived to hurt corporate profits

2) With most things, I'm all for opt-in (like exposure to advertising, which is not only NOT opt-in, but I can't even opt-out if I want!). However there can be a "tyrrany of the majority" which without protections put in place for minority interests (like the First Amendment itself), will tend to silence unpopular views.

It may be proper in the "free market of widgets" to allow market forces to choose the better widget, and eventually silence the company making the inferior one. However in the "free market of ideas", many feel that *all* ideas should be presented. Without all ideas, the people cannot be fully informed and be able to make important decisions about their own lives. (Informed consent).

Most people feel that 1 or 2 channels for compulsary Public Access Channels (where community members can decide what should be on) in a sea of 80-100 channels of for-profit ones (where you can't choose anything about it -- the advertisers do), and paying 1-2 dollars/month for this is a small price to pay for the many wonderful aspects about it.

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Tyranny of the Majority (none / 0) (#52)
by PresJPolk on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 03:54:13 PM EST

But there isn't a tyranny of the majority here.  You yourself mentioned several alternative sources of news.  Anyone who wants to hear from someone other than AOL, Fox, Disney, or (whoever owns CBS) has that choice.  The internet makes it easier than ever.

But, as you also mentioned, the average person only watches television for news.  So the real thing here you're trying to "fix" is that you wish to alter what the average person sees by forcing them to pay for something they're not asking for.  Basicaly, you're trying to institute a tyranny of the minority: the majority is choosing to watch CNN, but you don't like that, so you want to force the masses to pay for what *you* want, too.

I don't like that one bit.

[ Parent ]

Your "choice" is a straw man. (none / 0) (#53)
by ip4noman on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:05:10 PM EST

the majority is choosing to watch CNN
You can't call it much of a choice to choose to watch the Pro-War CNN, or the Pro-War MSNBC, or the Pro-War PBS, or to turn off the news entirely and watch the Pro-War History Channel, if some corporate execs are making the programming choices for you, and the Peace Channel is utterly absent.

Public Access is the great equalizer.



--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Television (none / 0) (#54)
by PresJPolk on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:15:17 PM EST

Nobody is forcing you to watch network television.  If you wanted you could listen to Pacifica or read this site or something.

For years and years, you couldn't get a vegetarian meal at fast food places.  There was no "real choice" in that market, either: you could get a burger, a burger, or a burger.  Eventually, though, people started demanding alternatives, and the businesses responded to demand.

If people *really* wanted pacifist news reporting, it'd be reflected in overall declining ratings, as people left television entirely.  It's not happening though.

Do you have any evidence that the masses want an alternative to the pro-US government slant you perceive?

[ Parent ]

The illusion of consent (none / 0) (#55)
by ip4noman on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:36:02 PM EST

Do you have any evidence that the masses want an alternative to the pro-US government slant you perceive?
Interesting point. I would argue that the way the mass media works gives the illusion of consent, but without all sides being presented, this complaincy is not relevant.

For example: Suppose that nuclear war against some enemy was a very popular idea, but rational thinkers believe that this would lead to armegeddon. Would you support the masses right to diseminate pro-world-destruction propaganda (and silence talk of non-violence), just because it were popular? Or would your support the Free Speech of the dissenting voice, in order to perhaps *change* the popular opinion?

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
s/complaincy/complacency/ NT (none / 0) (#56)
by ip4noman on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:38:09 PM EST



--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Free Speech (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by PresJPolk on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:45:09 PM EST

Yes, if a totally insane idea were popular, I fully support the right of every broadcaster to choose to broadcast it.

No, I'm totally against the idea that people should be forced to broadcast or subsidize the broadcast of an unpopular idea, just because a few self-proclaimed "rational thinkers," "experts," or "dissenters" disagreed with the masses.

That's part of the price of freedom.

[ Parent ]

And you? Do you have an opinion? (none / 0) (#106)
by xenthar on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 12:14:10 PM EST

It is irrelevant that the broadcaster has the right to broadcast what he wants. I'm not saying we should abolish that right.

The question that should matter most for you is what you want the world to look like. You decide what is good and what is bad.

What if it were a popular idea to change the constitution and allow murder? Would you sit, relax and utter the line "That's part of the price of freedom."?. No, you would get your arse mobilized to try and change the opinion of the people. Yet the broadcaster would air that popular idea. It is his right, but what would you consider your rights to be?

With probability nearing certainty, such a scenario will never take place. But there is no fundamental difference.

-- Conciousness is contagious. Work on improving yours, it will affect the world.
[ Parent ]

Umm... (none / 0) (#119)
by kurtmweber on Sat Aug 24, 2002 at 11:31:58 PM EST

I'd like to know where the Constitution currently PROHIBITS murder.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
Aye (none / 0) (#120)
by xenthar on Sun Aug 25, 2002 at 07:17:02 AM EST

I'd like to know where the Constitution currently PROHIBITS murder.

Hmm well it doesn't. You just made me look into the US Constition for the first time :-) Specific laws of prosecution or not in there of course, but in the Dutch Constitution there is an article that says "Ieder heeft, behoudens bij of krachtens de wet te stellen beperkingen, recht op onaantastbaarheid van zijn lichaam." which roughly translates to "Any person has, subject to restrictions by law, the right of invulnerability of his body". In other words, you can't mess with someones body unless law permits it. I think that covers murder.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter, change 'constitution' to 'law'.

-- Conciousness is contagious. Work on improving yours, it will affect the world.
[ Parent ]

I've heard ... (none / 0) (#86)
by pyramid termite on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 11:52:42 PM EST

If people *really* wanted pacifist news reporting, it'd be reflected in overall declining ratings, as people left television entirely. It's not happening though.

It's my understanding that TV viewership is down slightly, although I doubt it's got anything to do with pacifists.

"I forget, in a certain way, everything I write, doubtless also, in another way, what I read." - Jacques Derrida
[ Parent ]
Public Access is the great equalizer? (none / 0) (#66)
by mingofmongo on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 06:36:19 PM EST

What the hell does that mean? It gives everyone the chance to be heard by other public access watchers? Do you think that one day everyone will watch some stuttering cretin on public access when they can see tits on HBO? Do you think public policy is made by the viewers of Goth Talk?

Throw me a frickin' bone here. What the hell differance does it make if 15 people can see you rant in a shitty studio at a college?

'The People' don't care about the things you care about. If this bothers you, you are going to be bothered for the rest of your life.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

equalizer (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by akb on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 08:24:24 PM EST

Replace "public access" with "kuro5hin" or "the internet" in what you just wrote and reread it.

Collaborative Video Blog demandmedia.net
[ Parent ]

What You're Ignoring... (5.00 / 1) (#61)
by J'raxis on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 06:05:53 PM EST

What you’re ignoring is that many people “want” CNN because they don’t even know something else exists. How many people use MSN or AOL for news simply because they get their internet access from those companies and that’s what is displayed to them when they sign on?

And using your own logic in the no one is forcing you to watch TV comment you posted below: No one is forcing you to pay for cable TV: if you don’t like the fact that a dollar or two is going for TV channels you dislike, don’t pay for cable in the first place.

— The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

But there would be force here (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by PresJPolk on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 06:14:36 PM EST

As it is now, I and my cable television provider choose to make a private business transaction.

ip4noman would use the coercive power of the state to ban that transaction, requiring me to buy the service I want PLUS subsidize his "public access" pacifist propaganda, or not make the transaction at all.

Now that I think about it, I wonder if that's what he really wants - to attack the masses who just want to see King or O'Reilly.

[ Parent ]

Ahh, but you see ... (5.00 / 1) (#87)
by pyramid termite on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 11:58:20 PM EST

... the coercive power of the state has also been used to provide the broadcast bandwidth of the local channels, to provide the easements through which those cable run to bring you the TV and to maintain the convenient and profitable fiction that the entities who sell these services have legal standing as people.

In short, you're trying to lock a horsefly into the barn after the horses have already escaped. The government not only interferes with the TV/cable market, it created it through interference.

"I forget, in a certain way, everything I write, doubtless also, in another way, what I read." - Jacques Derrida
[ Parent ]
Government control over broadcast (none / 0) (#93)
by PresJPolk on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 05:37:44 AM EST

Yes, at present we have government-enforced oligopoly of broadcast.  Decide for yourself if you think government sprawl leads to livable society, though.

If you're like me, and see an ever-expanding government as a threat, then the government control over broadcast is a wrong.  One wrong doesn't justify another.

I suppose if you welcome Big Brother, then the government-enforced oligopoly is a good thing, and this mandated subsidy is just a natural follow on step.

[ Parent ]

Hmmm (5.00 / 1) (#102)
by pyramid termite on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 10:45:57 AM EST

You don't seem awfully upset about the government's interference in the market to date and the way it's benefitted corporations - but let a much smaller amount of government interference give back to the public some access and you'll protest at length.

This is why I've concluded that libertarianism won't work, mostly because the people who advocate it don't understand the real implications of it.

"I forget, in a certain way, everything I write, doubtless also, in another way, what I read." - Jacques Derrida
[ Parent ]
I replied to the idea proposed (none / 0) (#104)
by PresJPolk on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 11:49:35 AM EST

If you're interested in discussing government restrictions on broadcast, please do submit an article about it.  That's not what was discussed in the article, though, so that's not what my reply discussed.

Besides, If the original author truly were against the government-backed oligopoly, I don't think he'd be calling for an *addition* to the existing body of laws that back it.

The FCC is the problem.  The FCC is what puts up a huge barrier to entry in the broadcast market, causing broadcasting to be dominated by a few corporations.  Attack the FCC, don't strengthen it.

[ Parent ]

A better use of coercive power! (none / 0) (#97)
by ip4noman on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 08:10:54 AM EST

Right on! Nice comments. I would add that allocating the electromagnetic spectrum so that it best serves the people is a legitimate function of the government, which is NOT HAPPENING NOW. The spectrum has be literally auctioned off by the FCC to to highest bidder, and we have to suffer the exclusive pro-war capitalist agenda, and the "pacifist propagandists" (Polk's term) are utterly silenced.

I would tend to agree with Polk a bit in that the Franchise tax will probably get passed on to the people, and this resembles a socialist model, which anyone who reads libertarian literature will treat with fear and loathing.

However, it is undeniable that the Corporate Capitalist media has *utterly failed us* in providing a balanced presentation of the news, failed to promote the arts, failed to properly inform and thus educate.

I look at places like Canada and the UK with outright socialist media, and it seems to work pretty well.

And regardless, I believe that using the coercive force of the government to allocate the EM spectrum in the public interest is superior to using the coercive force to bust non-violent hippy folk who happen to be growing pot in their backyard.

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Public Access NOT a Public Subsidy (none / 0) (#96)
by ip4noman on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 07:58:10 AM EST

As it is now, I and my cable television provider choose to make a private business transaction. ip4noman would use the coercive power of the state to ban that transaction
Not ban, regulate. Let's look at your transaction a little more carefully. The contract is between you (a natural human person, adult, responsible, eyes and a brain and a beating heart, born of a mother and a father, honorable member of society, sui juris) and a legal fiction (corporate cable provider, artificial person, not responsible except to profit seeking goals, no eyes no brain no beating heart, born immortal by the stoke of a pen, not sui juris, in fact, corporations by how they act are more like the dead or insane than other living states).

Corporations have no rights; those are for the living. Corporations have only duties to perform, a responsibility to act in the public interest. However, corporations have shown a predilection to act apart from this, as history will show.

I'm a libertarian, was once a Libertarian, and I love listening to Harry Browne about how government doesn't work. I generally oppose big government projects which the private sector can do better, and I'm generally pro-competition.

But sometimes government *does* work (ARPANET became the internet, NASA went to the moon), and some projects should not be privatized and run by for-profit companies (prisons, courts), and some tasks should be performed by the government itself (public works) or highly regulated government monoplies (public utilities), as worse harm is potential in the alternatives.
requiring me to buy the service I want PLUS subsidize his "public access" pacifist propaganda,
No. Public Access is not a public subsidy. Public Access is Free Speech paid for by a tax on those cable providers that would tend to restrict it. (Sure the provider generally passes that tax onto the subscriber, but they could just as easily get the money from another revenue source: advertisers)

If you don't like my show on pacifism, watch any of 100+ other channels promoting war. Better yet: make your own show on whatever you like.

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Yes, ban (none / 0) (#108)
by PresJPolk on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 01:33:32 PM EST

If you require that all cable companies collect a fee to subsidize your propaganda, you consequentially ban the sale of cable television service without collecting the fee.  You eliminate choice in the marketplace.

As for rights, I don't care about corporations here.  I care thta you're trying to deny me my economic freedom to choose not to subscribe to pacifist propaganda television.

As for your show, no, I won't like it.  Why do you want me to pay for it, then?  Why don't you get off your chair, raise some money, and fund it yourself?

[ Parent ]

Some late thoughts (none / 0) (#121)
by pyramid termite on Sun Aug 25, 2002 at 11:59:33 AM EST

If you require that all cable companies collect a fee to subsidize your propaganda, you consequentially ban the sale of cable television service without collecting the fee. You eliminate choice in the marketplace.

What choice? There are very few cities with more than one cable provider. If a corporation doesn't like the conditions under which it is granted a lucrative government mandated monopoly, it is free to allow someone else to get it.

As for rights, I don't care about corporations here.

That's precisely your problem, Pres.

As for your show, no, I won't like it. Why do you want me to pay for it, then?

Are you arguing that you won't do business with a corporation if it isn't in 100% compliance with your views on things? Whether it's government mandated is just a smokescreen - Ted Turner has been known to support "statist" causes and your cable company buys CNN, so a certain amount of your cable money is going to some things I'm sure you don't agree with. But because this is mandated by an executive in a business suit and not a government agency, this is going to make you happier? Not to mention that you still have the choice to buy cable, or not to buy it.

Suggestion - look at the actions and the effects, not just the identity of the actors. Suggestion 2 - ask yourself if actions by corporations that are given status by their govenment as "persons", aren't effectively an extension of government power without responsiveness, accountability, or the right to vote for changes in who's making the decisions.

"I forget, in a certain way, everything I write, doubtless also, in another way, what I read." - Jacques Derrida
[ Parent ]
A subsidy not a subsidy? (none / 0) (#114)
by ranchdudes on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 04:05:33 PM EST

Are you saying that taxing some people - the owners of cable companies, their customers and suppliers - and then giving this money to Public Access TV is not subsidizing it?

Why is a contract between a person and a legal fiction owned by persons not the same as a contract between two persons? Do you make a difference between buying bread from a bakery that has a single owner, a bakery that is a partnership, or one that has 10 employees and an absentee owner (but the manager is on the premises)?

Forcing others to pay for your free speech makes it not free, as in free of government interference. When the government is paying you to do something, it will make sure you don't do what displeases it.

If you truly are a libertarian, you are a poor one.

rd

[ Parent ]

Government subsidy of corporations (none / 0) (#122)
by pyramid termite on Sun Aug 25, 2002 at 12:05:20 PM EST

Are you saying that taxing some people - the owners of cable companies, their customers and suppliers - and then giving this money to Public Access TV is not subsidizing it?

Why is a contract between a person and a legal fiction owned by persons not the same as a contract between two persons?


Are you saying that giving a fictional legal identity and standing to some groups of people isn't subsidizing them?

Forcing others to pay for your free speech makes it not free, as in free of government interference.

Forcing the market to recognize legal fictions makes markets not free, as in free of government interference. Seeing as the government is interfering in this manner, then it is clear it can interfere in matters related to these legal fictions.

"I forget, in a certain way, everything I write, doubtless also, in another way, what I read." - Jacques Derrida
[ Parent ]
You don't like corporations (none / 0) (#124)
by ranchdudes on Sun Aug 25, 2002 at 07:30:50 PM EST

I see you don't like corporations. Which aspect you don't like more - the fact that the owners have limited liability for the actions of corporations, or the fact that corporations are legal entities that can engage in business with other legal and physical entities (people)?

Would your mind change if instead of corporations we had large partnerships (like Andersen Accounting). This would make the trade of ownership (stocks) harder, and the liability of the owners would be larger, but they would still be legal entities.

About subsidies. Subsidies without corresponding costs are not really subsidies, I think. You are not taxing anyone to give the people (all people) the right to form corporations. I suppose the subsidy comes in the form of law and courts, which are necessary to protect any rights. I think courts are mostly paid by users, not taxpayers.

Anyway, would the right to own property be considered a subsidy? Or the right to free speech? I think not.

rd

[ Parent ]

It's not corporations I don't like ... (none / 0) (#125)
by pyramid termite on Sun Aug 25, 2002 at 09:44:51 PM EST

... it's the idea some people have that they should have no checks and balances on the power they have because it "interferes" with a "free market". Since corporations are a government creation, and thus a beneficiary of the government's policy, the government has a right to say under what conditions they will exist.

About subsidies. Subsidies without corresponding costs are not really subsidies, I think.

The costs, which include the increasing corruption of our political system, are mostly indirect.

"I forget, in a certain way, everything I write, doubtless also, in another way, what I read." - Jacques Derrida
[ Parent ]
problem is (5.00 / 1) (#90)
by strlen on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 03:01:49 AM EST


1) certain ideas will be surpressed in for-profit media, i.e., anything that is perceived to hurt corporate profits


there's also the problem, that certain things will also be surpressed in the publically-funded media, such anything that is perceived to hurt the idea that the public broadcasting station is not entitled to the profit. a case in hand, is that you don't very often see much variation of opinion on NPR. have you ever heard anyone suggest that NPR be cancelled on NPR? there's also the problem that with government owned media, that it wil become politicized and only show the viewpoint of whatever party is in office (case in hand: state-owned television in the former soviet union being the ad-abusrdum example).


second, privately owned doesn't always imply a for profit corporation. you can just as easily do in a non-profit organization. also, in case of a privately owned for profit organization, there's the idea of competition and diversity: what may hurt corporate profits of CNN, will help the corporate profits of FOX, which is why you still get a diversity of opinion.


thirdly, an ad absurdum example dealing with public television. when there's public funding involved with the first ammendment, both popular and non popular speec must be subsidized. but don't you think its cruel to force a holocaust survivor to find a neo-nazi broadcast which denies holocaust? or a black to fund a white supremacist broadcast? otherwise, if you close down that channel to white supremacists and nazis, the right-wingers may also argue to do the same for people who paint pictures of urine soaked jesus (and yes i'm fully aware for the reasoning behind it, the painting dealt with hipocricy the gay painter witnessed in the church which shunned him), and you get into all sorts of nasty politically motivated censorship issues.




--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
NPR not PubAcc; hate vs. free speech (5.00 / 1) (#95)
by ip4noman on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 07:25:09 AM EST

...you don't very often see much variation of opinion on NPR. have you ever heard anyone suggest that NPR be cancelled on NPR?
NPR != Public Accsss. This was emphesized in my aritcle. NPR is mostly not publically funded.

Now if you listen to Pacifica Radio (not NPR), you will often hear the DJs criticising the board, station policy, etc. Recently, there was a coup of sorts that occured at two Pacifica stations (KPFK and WBAI), and some lawyers made it onto the board with intentions of killing Pacifica. Long story short: they eventually were ousted, but during their reign they imposed a gag order, "Don't discuss Pacifica business on the air" which many DJs openly violated. This is *not* NPR!!

second, privately owned doesn't always imply a for profit corporation. you can just as easily do in a non-profit organization.
This is a really interesting idea. I am forming a non-profit corp to hold the assets of the Public Access facility which will be built in my town, and the thought occured to me: why can't this new corp BE the cable provider? Why does the cable provider need to be a for-profit corp at all?
but don't you think its cruel to force a holocaust survivor to find a neo-nazi broadcast which denies holocaust? or a black to fund a white supremacist broadcast?
There are many interesting and difficult questions regarding free speech, especially regarding hate speech. Personally, I have some VERY unpopular views: I'm essentially Anarchist, Vegetarian, Atheist/Pagan/Deist, Animal Rights advocate, Marijuana legalization advocate. I don't want people to shut me up so I generally think "free speech uber alles".

However, on a local weblog, some anonymous poster said that people who attend my church (Unitarian Universalist) "worship at the feet of Baal and are deserving of death" and proceeded to quote a bunch of Bible verses. Let me tell you, I wanted the guys IP address, and I wanted to take action.

I think the solution is this: you will never eliminate hate speech until you eliminate hate itself. So there will always be Holocaust deniers and neo-nazis, etc. Let them have their say, just not anonymously. I believe the name of the producer of all shows on Public Access should be public knowledge.

Also, I think that while the expression of hate of some other person or group appeals to a certain base lynch-mob mentality that seems to run through the human spirit (witness the popularity of wrestling), I think that once the people like me, who are presently silenced, and who want access to the tools of media to talk about love and life and peace and a sustainable future, that these ideas will be much more compelling than the hate.

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
"freedom" (5.00 / 1) (#78)
by akb on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 08:42:07 PM EST

There are plenty of ways in which society restricts one freedom in order to strengthen another.  To provide examples that relate to discourse necessary to a free flow of information to support a democratic society (as public access does) think about libraries and public schools.  Most people in society think its a good deal to provide these information services to everyone.

Would you favor education available to everyone only in proportion to ones ability to pay for it?  I shudder to think what kind of society that would be.

If information is available in the media only in relation to its marketability how is it possible for a democratic society to function.  Dollar democracy is already rampant as we see in the spectacle of our election system, the media is an important component of that.

Robert McChesney is the key scholar on this issue, I can't recommend Rich Media, Poor Democracy enough.  He goes more in depth into the mechanics and political economy of media control that Chomsky, who attacks things from a power and social control perspective.

Collaborative Video Blog demandmedia.net
[ Parent ]

McChesney (none / 0) (#109)
by ip4noman on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 02:10:38 PM EST

I've seen his books referenced often by writers whom I respect. Thanks for the link. I'm heading to the library now!



--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Fine, then give the people their airwaves back ... (5.00 / 2) (#85)
by pyramid termite on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 11:49:57 PM EST

... and let low powered local broadcasting thrive. After all, it's the government's confiscation of OUR common bandwidth that makes commercial broadcast TV and radio possible.

"I forget, in a certain way, everything I write, doubtless also, in another way, what I read." - Jacques Derrida
[ Parent ]
I agree completely (none / 0) (#94)
by PresJPolk on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 05:38:33 AM EST

End the government-enforced oligopoly.

[ Parent ]
Be your own TV station! Broadcast on Channel 3! (none / 0) (#105)
by Ricdude on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 12:13:03 PM EST

Connect output of VCR to an antenna. Definitely violates FCC regulations, but you could probably reach your local neighborhood without much interference. Now if your neighborhood is a population dense city, and you have the antenna on the roof, you might even make your signal available to enough people that you'll attract a viewership of, say, 3 people. After all, most of your neighbors are probably watching cable, and not the broadcast spectrum, anyway. Compare that to the viewship of such narrow interest cable channels as Animal Planet, OLN, or the WB. If your message is that important, find a better channel to get it heard.

[ Parent ]
Don't watch television. (3.50 / 4) (#63)
by mingofmongo on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 06:17:18 PM EST

I don't. Well maybe The Simpsons now and then. Nobody is forcing you to watch TV.

You can't stop other people from watching TV. They are NOT gonna watch Public TV. Public Access TV doesn't show Friends.

If what you want is to have your voice heard, you can do that now. Don't worry that the vast majority of the TV watching public won't hear you. You have nothing to say that they want to hear. They want to watch Friends. They will not act on anything you say even if they happened to hear it. They don't care. I don't care about them. Why do you?

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion

Wrong-o (5.00 / 3) (#69)
by drivers on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 07:15:01 PM EST

I won't include myself so I will mention instead that a friend of mine became a vegetarian after watching some slaughterhouse video on public access. She's not a habitual public access watcher, but when you're flipping channels and you see something weird going on, curiosity can get the better of you. And public access definitely has some weird stuff on it. It also has a lot of stuff like church services recorded in other languages [that I can't understand] with bad audio, showing only the speaker at a microphone... boring.

[ Parent ]
Strange Visuals: "The Hook" (5.00 / 2) (#76)
by ip4noman on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 08:20:35 PM EST

"...but when you're flipping channels and you see something weird going on, curiosity can get the better of you."
I use a variety of techniques to hook channel surfers.
  • Shot of an xscreensaver screen, set to interesting indy music

  • Psycho Blue Guy, a video feedback technique requiring a switcher with Chroma-Key (blue because of the blue screen, not because the end image is blue)

  • "Mr. Mouthy Man" character: Subversive readings with extreme close up on my mouth

  • Strange poetry set to music with a shot of the text being read.
All of these techniques are an attempt to make the shot look weird, bizarre, interesting in the hope that people will stop, and listen to the words.

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
<i>"They don't care"</i> (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by marc987 on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 07:26:00 PM EST

It may not be obvious but I think most people do care.

[ Parent ]
Those who only want to watch Friends, (5.00 / 1) (#83)
by acceleriter on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 10:03:13 PM EST

I could care less about reaching, if only they would refrain from voting.

[ Parent ]
Isn't the internet all this and more? (5.00 / 2) (#64)
by func on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 06:24:17 PM EST

I mean, other than the high barrier to entry ($$), what could be more public accessable than the internet?  In terms of providing content, anyone with access can put up a web page.  And no, it doesn't require fancy programming - a good idea is just as valid as a text file as some fancy ass flash site.

Screw TV - wire the masses.  Look at stuff like the Simputer in India (http://www.picopeta.com/).  Let anyone and everyone put up whatever they want, whenever they want, and let the good stuff percolate up to the top.  

Maybe I'm just an early adopter, but I've given up on TV years ago - who wants to sit around and be spoon fed?

cable and the internet (none / 0) (#101)
by akb on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 10:38:46 AM EST

Video is the media that is most compelling to people and eventually the Internet and the cable systems will merge.  Public access should have a place in that.

The big media giants have drawn a hardline on video distribution because that's the business model they are counting on.  That's why consumer broadband is designed to be asymetric, they dont' want their customers competing with them to provide content.  They also are not interested in making their networks multicast enabled, which would allow for video broadcast to an unlimited number of viewers for the same cost as one viewer.

Check out the Center for Digital Democracy, they are doing a lot of work in this area.  Also, Robert McChesney has written stuff, try The Titanic Sails On: Why the Internet won't sink the media giants

Collaborative Video Blog demandmedia.net
[ Parent ]

Why bother? (3.00 / 2) (#68)
by acceleriter on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 07:03:39 PM EST

If someone really was waking anyone up, they'd die a convenient death, anyway. (q.v. King, Kennedy)

Because (none / 0) (#72)
by marc987 on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 07:27:03 PM EST



[ Parent ]
News Shows (4.85 / 7) (#70)
by Mzilikazi on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 07:18:44 PM EST

Something I haven't seen on k5 yet (maybe it's been there, I could have missed it) is a story about Phil Donahue's new show on MSNBC. He's pretty far left wing, and had Ralph Nader as a guest a few weeks ago (Donahue was a staunch supporter of Nader during the 2000 election). So you've got a pretty well-known celebrity pitching for left wing causes, bringing on left wing guests, while at the same time appearing on a nationally distributed cable network at a normal hour of the evening (7 & 10 Central/8 & 11 Eastern).

And not that many people watching... This article puts the viewership for his show at just under 400,000 viewers. He's up against the stiff competition of Bill O'Reilly, who gets about 1.6 milllion viewers at the same time slots on Fox News. Granted, Donahue's show is just starting out, and time will tell whether or not it succeeds in the long run, but if it continues to fail it will not bode well for "alternative public access TV".

I don't think that the problems of left-wing independent media have anything to do with television specifically. Though the proportion is probably smaller on television, I'm sure you'd see similar left-wing/center/right-wing ratios in other forms of media, like magazines, newspapers, radio, etc., in which the costs of getting into the market are much smaller than those associated with television. But the basic problems are still there. Why?

Because frankly, this world view is pretty marginal, and limited to larger cities. I don't mean this as an insult; it's just that if you view CNN and NPR as too far to the right, you're at a demographic percentage similar to that of white supremicists, alien abductees, and goat farmers. And keep in mind, that under a free independent public access system, the white supremicists, alien abductees, and goat farmers are going to have just as much right of access to said media as folks from Greenpeace, PETA, the Green Party, the Communist Party, etc.

Take a look at Indymedia... There's a reason why the nickname "Nazimedia" is being used even by people who initially agreed with the idea behind it (which is quite noble). The huge number of articles that are just plain racist, inflammatory, or just weird drag down the reputation of the site as a whole. Things like that and kuro5hin and Slashdot are a lot of fun, but these aren't places that you go if you need actual hard information about something. (Imagine asking for medical advice on a site like k5.) So hate the media, the corporations, etc., and there's certainly reasons to do so, but there's something to be said for fact-checking and maintaining a certain reputation, something that's going to be mostly absent in any endeavor that culls all of its material and information from the fringe/underground/whatever.

I think that eventually, given the increasing number of cable channels devoted to topics that have miniscule national interest, that there's eventually going to be a "Greenpeace Channel" or something similar, but even once it's more easily available, it's not going to do much to influence or impact the country as a whole, except as fodder for ridicule via clips on right-wing shows. Again, I'm not insulting the general philosphy, just that it's a lot less popular than most would think from reading things like kuro5hin every day. It's not to say that the nation is rabidly right-wing, it's just a lot more centrist than anyone would like to admit, except for the Democrats, who found that mostly abandoning the staunch leftists and focusing on the middle ground was an excellent election strategy.

Of course, my own work experience as a producer for a public access cable station has probably soured my opinion a bit. :) Cheers,
Mzilikazi

Why does "monopoly" even have a plural? (3.57 / 7) (#74)
by docvin on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 08:04:30 PM EST

This reminds me of a personal story from a few weeks ago. I was walking along the street, and some big fat hairy guy was hawking the latest Green Left Weekly ( local socialist wanker paper ). As  walked past he was shouting "Buy Green Left Weekly! Fight the media monopolies!".

I turned around, grabbed him by the shirt and said "You fucking idiot! There's no such thing as media monopolies! If there's more than one it's not a fucking monopoly! Is it?"

Actually, I didn't say that, but later on I wish I had.

Incidentally, daily newspapers in this town ( Sydney) are a dupoly, commerical TV is a triopoly, and radio is... I dunno, about a 17-opoly.

Anyway, in my experience commercial media sources are far _less_ politically biased than government- or community-owned sources. Commercial sources must cater to the prejudices of the whole population if they're to survive commercially, whereas community sources tend only to reflect the prejudices of their creators - usually a highly passionate bunch of losers. The major commercial TV stations generally reflect public opinion on most issues, in order to maximise their own ratings.

ip4noman, you declare that the major media sources are biased apparently because they don't usually air your opinions. Remember: maybe you're just a moron.

PS. Yes, I know that "monopolies" is a perfectly cromulent word - if you have a monopoly in one market, and a monopoly in another market, you have two monopolies.

Bleck. I repeat, bleck. (3.00 / 1) (#75)
by bjlhct on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 08:16:54 PM EST

1.

Well, I don't have a TV. I get news frow K5 and NewScientist. I would reccomend that everyone do this.

I could probably care less what's on TV, except for how it seems to be making other people do stupid stuff. And that causes all sorts of problems.

Why is what he sez not so? It's a classic case of concentrated gain and distributed harm. Each person has inertia. More people, more inertia.

2.

snip
You see, in America it is held that the people hold the sovereign (lawmaking) power, and thus the people own the airwaves. The government acts simply as a steward of this precious recource, a guardian acting in the public trust. Just like there exists a public right-of-way on the farm-to-market roads and freeways, there exists similar rights of way over the electromagnetic spectrum, whether travelling though the air, or over buried cables or telephone lines.
/snip

Nope. FCC auctioned off spectrum and will do so again whenever it can. This is a stupid idea, but that's another matter. Sure, ya say, it's a democracy. Well, people are apparently too stupid to make good decisions. Also, it's a republic designed so decisions are fairly removed from "the people."

3.

One company in town (McDonalds) owns six restaurants in town, and many thousands worldwide!!!!!!!

It is not within the charter of the commercial restaurant industry to satiate, or keep you in shape. It's not about promoting vegetarianism and healthy eating. It's is about one thing: PROFIT. Making money, selling our captive neural pathways food.

Dude, it's called "capitalism." What do you think they do? As far as monopolies go, I think you should look at the Microsoft article on the FP a bit ago, and should go about making people smarter.

-
"Sometimes a cheroot is just a cheroot." -Jung, in Pilgrim

Your premise is wrong. (4.75 / 4) (#82)
by barnasan on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 09:56:00 PM EST


But consider that most people in America receive 90%+ of their news from traditional media (newspapers, television, and radio owned by for-profit corporations), and you realize that we don't have a free press today

Oh yes, you do. Honestly I don't "realize" what you mean. It's just all relative. You're right - you are being U.S. centric. You forget that people in some other countries would LOVE to have a system where two young journalists can start a process that ultimately ends in the resignation of the country's president. Etc, etc.


Today, we have a commercial press, which something really very different from "free", in every sense of the word.

Don't think so, sir. Commerciality and freedom have a lot to do with each other. Why? You can't have one without the other. One of the most important assumptions of free societies is that people should have the freedom to be commercial. The system provides the legal framework for that, but WON'T tell them exactly what they can or should do - they are free to pursue their own ideas.

OK, maybe this is a bit offtopic (and I like public TV anyway), but I'm allergic against people painting an falsely negative picture of commercialism, or commercial press.

You would have made a good communist. Things like "Commercialism is about one thing: PROFIT" are just one step away from communist propaganda, picturing the capitalist as a fat cigar-puffing slavedriver. As I pointed out above, freedom and capitalism is about people freely pursuing their goals and ideas. It's OBVIOUS that there are a lot of journalists, whose goals include both making good journalism, AND turning a profit - these things are not mutually exclusive. And there IS a market for good journalism.

So don't you forget it - commercialism is probably one of the most valuable asset of the society you're living in.

Distribution (none / 0) (#98)
by soybomb on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 08:20:28 AM EST

These massive monopoly media corporations produce the content, and they control the distribution

And that's the point that's missing. There's no difficulty in producing media that affects an area as long as that area is very tiny.

The problem with media in a union, is that the area to cover is immense, and costs lots of money. Back in '96 I'd heard about a great public access show called ROX, which was based near Indianapolis. But the reason I found out about it was because their show was being handled by Free Speech TV (I think that was the name) at the time, which was -- guess what -- a public access distribution company. Affiliates in different cities would run a varied lineup in the single slots they could get. I don't think they're in that business anymore but you get the point: in order to reach beyond your locality, you need capital. Even public access knew that.

That shows you that capital isn't "evil". NPR and PBS exists partly to make sure that their affiliates have programming and capital to make it through their broadcasting months. That also means that there are central decisions being made over affiliates, the same problem being put upon the large conglomerates.

So the real evils are greed and laziness. Those, we've been with since the dawn of time. That's not just a creation of corporations. That's something all those private owners who sold to the media corporations had to live with. Even Ted Turner fell for it, sold his media empire to AOL, and then got canned. Why sell? Why lose control? These evils fall on the individuals as much as corporations, so you can't really blame the system, just human behavior.

And then even those huge corporations don't have the capital to get every story. Most of our news are filtered down from AP and Reuters and other national and international newsfeeds. So now you have this system with when it works, it works great, but has this big glaring flaw in it where there's multiple layers of filtering and decision-making before you get information. One hand is double-checking facts, making ethical decisions on exposing name, killing bogus reports. The other twists stories to make their own interests look better.

And then there's the Internet. The net is instant, global distribution for even the simplest of ideas. So who needs TV? (except for ads for your site?)

[ Parent ]
freespeech tv (none / 0) (#100)
by akb on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 10:25:20 AM EST

FSTV is still around.  They are carried on the DISH satellite network (channel 9415) 24 hours a day.  Public access stations can carry their programming by installing DISH (cheap! compared to C or Ku).  They will mail tapes under special circumstances.

They are getting carried because of federal regulations requiring the DBS operators to have 5% channel capacity occupied by nonprofit, independents.

I can't recommend their programming enough.  Check out the website, they have one of the best and largest archives of streaming video anywhere on the web.

Collaborative Video Blog demandmedia.net
[ Parent ]

Falsely? (none / 0) (#112)
by xenthar on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 03:00:53 PM EST

OK, maybe this is a bit offtopic (and I like public TV anyway), but I'm allergic against people painting an falsely negative picture of commercialism, or commercial press.

Falsely? There is no censorship? No opinion bending? Check this for example.

It's very simple. People of power and wealth become  thus because they aspire it. It is their hobby, so to say. They wield their power and money to become even more so. They befriend other people of their kind, as do all people, and create a network of people who help each other with the hobby.
When you like this hobby too much, it is called greed.
Now, you honestly believe that these people, who rule the nation and own the media, do not use the media to make ruling the nation easier? Their friends expect them to! Nobody likes to lose friends, right?

It is their free will to do so, and yet I don't like it. Apparently, you do.

-- Conciousness is contagious. Work on improving yours, it will affect the world.
[ Parent ]

You, Sir, Are Right (none / 0) (#115)
by ranchdudes on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 04:11:36 PM EST

Thank you for the eloquent defense of freedom. It is amazing that freedom must be defended from its children. I wan born in an unfree country, and know how it looks like when the government becomes your parent. It is a mean parent that doesn't listen, never lets you go out on your own, even when you have grown mature and responsible. No parent wants to be like that to his own children, but for some reason adults think that other adults must be treated like this.

rd

[ Parent ]

Cable I do not have (4.66 / 3) (#84)
by ekips on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 11:43:34 PM EST

What about those of us who thoroughly enjoy having only 5 channels of TV to flip through? I don't want to have to buy cable to see public access television (and the essence of buying cable makes "public access" television no longer public access).

Besides that, if I remember correctly, last time I watched public access TV, back when I did have cable, half of it was crazy alarmist "the world's going to shit" shows hosted by aging hippies. I've got nothing against that, but I personally don't want to watch that, either. Besides, you can get so much more proliferation with a simple www.isp.com/~user website than a local TV market, and get a much wider spread locality-wise.

-----------------

This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. If this had been an actual emergency, do you really think we'd stick around to tell you?
Television: a visual medium (4.50 / 2) (#89)
by Polverone on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 02:03:15 AM EST

Some years ago when I read Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death I found his points about the visual nature of television and its influence on politics very interesting. Nixon "won" debates while campaigning, according to his radio audience, but "lost" them according to TV viewers. Would the highly obese (and thus visually unappealing) Howard Taft be elected in an age of television? Although I eventually came to regard Postman as another misguided prophet, I think it's worth reemphasizing that TV is about images. Pictures. If Issue X is too nuanced for a three minute video clip, optionally accompanied by music, why do you want it on television? It's the wrong medium. TV isn't a book on tape that includes illustrations. And public access television doesn't (by your own admission) have good production values. So public access political shows have to shoehorn complex issues into a medium that thrives on simple, powerful images and they can't even make it look good.

Here in the Portland, Oregon area, I've never seen anything worth watching on public access. Okay, I don't have cable and rarely watch TV, but the segments I've seen never made me want to come back for more. I actually haven't even seen political shows. I've seen experimental animation (by which I mean first-year student work), some guy's show all about naked people, and various religious shows. Maybe I just got a bad sample. Public access is perceived as the weirdo channel, not the "fight the corporate power" channel. It's not even the good weirdos, because the experimentalist and independent film folks already promote their work through other outlets. I notice that you didn't include links to any existing good public access shows. Are there any shows that you take as models for good public access TV?

You need more than an issue and enthusiasm to make TV that is watchable and effective. You're never going to be able to afford to use film, so get used to the qualities of video. Good lighting is the key to good film and video, and it's even more important for video because of video's limited dynamic range. Different lighting can make otherwise ordinary people look great or terrible. Study great films of the past for use of lighting, camera angles, editing, makeup. Not just Hollywood films, either. Watch films with the sound suppressed so you can focus on the visual qualities. You can pick up a lot without ever paying a dime toward film school. Now pay close attention to audio. Watch Philip Glass films. Watch music videos, even if you hate MTV. Watch Hitchcock movies (good advice in any case). What sort of flaws are you going to have to deal with? How can you enhance a mood with appropriate music or effects? Can you dub in sound after shooting or is it too tough for what you're doing? If it's tough, how can you get good sound on the first take? Even if your audio and video are poor, excellent writing might save you. Witness the Simpsons (of years past). Visually unimpressive, but excellent.

Now what if you're saying "But I don't want to make movies, I want to Discuss Issues on television!" Well, then I think you've picked the wrong medium. Write a zine or start a .org community. Play to the strengths of your medium. Talking heads on TV aren't much better than brochureware on the Web. If you can present important issues in a visually appealing way, excellent. If you can't, don't use TV! Screwdrivers make poor hammers.


--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
The Home of Controversial Public Access (5.00 / 1) (#92)
by mrdanko on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 05:16:05 AM EST

About five years ago our public access facilities in Columbus, Ohio came under fire from "Angsto the Clown" who filed a quarter of a million dollar lawsuit against Community 21 (our public access station), and the city of Columbus for infringement of the first and fourteenth amendments, prior restraint and breach of contract. Why? Because they took him off the air because some people considered him obscene. He won, and now we have no public access facilities. I think anyone who wants to make public access television a viable news outlet should actually watch a few hours of public access to see what it's currently all about. You might change your mind.

potential (none / 0) (#99)
by akb on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 10:16:33 AM EST

I think anyone who wants to make public access television a viable news outlet should actually watch a few hours of public access to see what it's currently all about. You might change your mind.

Certainly public access has unfulfilled potential.  Actually your wording is a little strange, I think that anyone who wants to make PA a viable news outlet will become a member of their local station and network with others to make a news program.

An example of this is the Indymedia Newsreal.  Its a monthly half hour show, producers send in segments from across the country (and recently world), then tapes get mailed out and screened live and aired on public access stations.  (If you want the show aired on your station, contact the organizers at the url above).

The Internet is only just starting to realize its potential for collaborative, volunteer news making.  The challenges for doing a similar project to public access are higher, its not feasible to distribute full quality video over the internet, high skill level required for production, etc but the barriers are lowering substantially.  I think when cable and the Internet merge that the public access community and advocates for digital democracy, like Lessig and Jeff Chester, will join forces and be the same group.

Collaborative Video Blog demandmedia.net
[ Parent ]

I've had this problem (none / 0) (#130)
by blisspix on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 10:03:25 PM EST

I'm a board member of a public radio station (in Australia) and this happens more often than you would like to think. Some people are power mad, and rich, and will do whatever it takes to get on air, and stay there.

We have had so many threats of legal action against us because we refused to give them extra hours, or because we threatened to pull them off air for breaking the law, or because people complained about them.

You really have to be extremely careful to monitor people before you put them to air, but sometimes people just decide to wake up one morning and talk about how much they hate people. sigh.

[ Parent ]

Historical analogy from Korea (5.00 / 4) (#110)
by anansi on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 02:35:08 PM EST

In the beginning of the 14th century, Korea used the Chinese Kanji for all its written language. Kanji is a symbolic notation system, not a phonetic one, so it takes about 2,000 distinct characters to get a basic vocabulary, and thousands more for conversations of any complexity or nuance. Only the nobility and priesthood were literate, it took too much leisure time for a peasant to learn ciphers.

The korean ruler at the time saw a problem with this and had his brain trust invent a simplified, phonetic alphabet that could be learned quickly. Han Gul was the result, a 28 letter alphabet that could be learned by anyone, not just nobility. (this was eventually shortened to the current 24 character alphabet)

What followed was an explosion of cultural expression. Authors came from all backgrounds, no longer just the ruling class. In 1446, King Sejong proclaimed: "Being of foreign origin, Chinese characters are incapable of capturing uniquely Korean meanings. Therefore, many common people have no way to express their thoughts and feelings. Out of my sympathy for their difficulties, I have created a set of 28 letters. The letters are very easy to learn, and it is my fervent hope that they improve the quality of life of all people."

Motion picture and television technologies offer a new linguistic toolbox for the expression of ideas. As long as the tools for expressing these ideas remain expensive and controled by the owning minority, they are primarily a propaganda tool to maintain control. With desktop editing suites and affordable digital camcorders, the technical means for mass expression exist. What is sadly lacking, though, is a common understanding of what works on screen and what doesn't.

Public access is a place where the hoi polloi can teach ourselves the basics of this essential visual language, without which it is impossible to make oneself understood in the modern world. To criticize public access for its juvinile antics is about as relevant as critiqing 3rd grade schoolchildren's work on the basis of literary merit.

Think of public access as 'open house' night at your local school, where future filmakers of america make their mistakes. Our local public access channel was where Bill Nye the science guy got his start.

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"

not pacifica (4.00 / 1) (#111)
by srichman on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 02:46:30 PM EST

There is a power-shift occuring now with alternative media, from Indymedia, Pacifica Radio, and K5.
Some folks might object to Pacifica being labelled "alternative media" these days. The Pacifica News Network journalists have been on strike for over two years now, due to censorship and heavey-handed actions by the Pacifica management.

The response was Free Pacifica. Check out the history of Free Speech Radio News, Save Pacifica, etc.

I just think it's interesting to notice that well-established alternative media can pull a lot of the same fucked up shit as well-established mainstream media.

they won (none / 0) (#117)
by akb on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 10:02:32 PM EST

They aren't on strike anymore because they won.  PNN got canceled and the strikers' show, FSRN, runs against NPR on Pacifica stations.  Verna Avery-Brown, who ancored FSRN, is now deputy assistant director of Pacifica.  The old board and station managers got kicked out.

Send in your pledge to the liberated Pacifica.

Collaborative Video Blog demandmedia.net
[ Parent ]

Your view is skewed because you live in Binghamton (4.50 / 4) (#123)
by a on Sun Aug 25, 2002 at 05:48:24 PM EST

Binghamton: Syracuse's Bitch
Your first problem is that you live in the middle of nowhere. Binghamton has a SUNY campus, but is otherwise just a lunch stop on the way from New York to Syracuse. Nothing newsworthy happens in Binghamton, which explains why you don't have many options for "news" in your area.

Television: Entertainment, not News
And please don't insult the "press" by lumping them together with television and radio. Television and radio are not news mediums in America, and they never will be, no matter how many so-called "reporters" the networks hire. They are entertainment mediums which sometimes paint themselves as "news" outlets to help people justify wasting their time in front of a mind-numbing box. Broadcast news cuts out all the details, facts and figures to give you a concentrated, compelling story that will keep you sitting in front of your idiot box. To add insult to injury, they string you along for an hour every night through questions, insinuations and half-truths designed to keep you watching all their commercials until the end of the program when you find out the big story of the night you've been waiting for is just hyped up trash.

The medium is not designed to inform people; it's designed for people who don't have the patience, intelligence or interest to read a newspaper. Many "news" programs just sit there and read snippets of the newspaper to you anyway. Wouldn't you prefer to get all the facts rather than the hype? Go online, bookmark a few good news sites (The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Financial Times of London and The Wall Street Journal are not owned by any of the companies you mentioned).

Before you point to the Sept. 11th television coverage as "news," explain to me just how watching the twin towers burn and fall made you a more informed individual. It didn't; the networks were simply satisfying the same desires that drive you to the movies to watch Hollywood's latest pyrotechnics show.

Gannett is the Scum at the Bottom of the Bucket
I used to work for The Washington Post, in Washington, DC, not far from Gannett's headquarters where USA Today is published. Washington's a relatively small town, and at one party for a friend of mine I met a man who worked for USA Today. He spent the entire night trying to convince me that The Post wastes its time covering starving children in Africa... that people want "real news" like a feature story USA Today has run on its front page several times about businessmen who have sex on airplanes with flight attendants. This is the mentality behind the local papers you are complaining about.

Gannett is a giant conglomerate that owns about 100 awful small newspapers it uses to funnel stories to its really big awful newspaper, USA Today, which is a newspaper for people who don't like to read. Just because your local paper is worthless doesn't mean the "free press" doesn't exist.

Public Access Television will never be a viable news outlet, no matter how well-intentioned you may be. It takes money to pay reporters and editors to gather news, separate the wheat from the chaff and publish the wheat. That's why all the big names are corporate entities. It comes down to a question of who you trust to deliver your news, and I trust the NYTimes and Washington Post 1,000 times more than I trust some ignorant public access Yahoo from Binghamton. For a definitive list of who owns what, see the Columbia Journalism Review.

great points, but there is no easy answer... (none / 0) (#131)
by riff randall on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 01:17:49 PM EST

Please point me to more than ONE New York times article that fully explains what the Israeli "settlement policy" is and doesn't just mention it in passing. If I only read the sources you mentioned I would still only posess a vague idea of what that term even suggests.

Then again, when you are not even furnished with appropriate facts about your own country's foreign policies, it would be silly to assume that you would be furnished with facts about any situation elsewhere. Other ofcourse, than how many people got blown up where and when and who was sad or angry about it.

Give me more than one article that questions already established US foreign policy. An article that critiques not just the WAY things are done, but whether they should be done at all. That suggests anything really different. Yes and make sure it's not an Op-Ed piece, please...

Maybe the sources you mention use better language and fancier terms, and yes do infact cover a much wider range of world events. But a broader range of coverage (as in, they actually have an international news section) does not necessarily mean a broader range of views, political ideas, and debate surrounding the delivery of that news. (witness the recent New York times 9/11 recommended reading list). There is always room for improvement.

I'm not arguing that in general you *can* actually get some kind of information from the print sources you mentioned, and not just news-tertainment like from tv "news". However, I would still urge anyone to use caution and pay great attention even when reading these sources. Sources that conveniently never stray too far in their overall coverage from established U.S. foreign and domestic policy. As long as one keeps these points in mind, I don't doubt that anyone could probably gain some very useful information from the Washington Post and the New York Times, etc.

My point is you should never trust ANY news source completely, and always read things with a critical eye if you wish to truly inform yourself. Not doing so is just as foolish as confusing television current-events-entertainment programs with something that's trying to deliver news.

It's not just "patience, intelligence and interest to read a newspaper". It's patience, intelligence and interest to THINK for yourself and not accept anything that's spoonfed to you.

[ Parent ]
Amateur broadcasting (none / 0) (#126)
by nsayer on Mon Aug 26, 2002 at 03:04:06 PM EST

I think what is needed is an Amateur broadcasting service. The Amateur Radio service is not the same thing, because one of the rules of the Amateur service is that you are not allowed to broadcast (except for certain exceptions that are largely uninteresting in this discussion).

Here is my modest proposal.

This is similar to the LPFM movement (none / 0) (#127)
by ip4noman on Tue Aug 27, 2002 at 09:17:04 AM EST

Low Power FM. Also check out Prometheus Radio Project, an activist organization promoting LPFM.

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Similar, but very different (none / 0) (#128)
by nsayer on Tue Aug 27, 2002 at 11:23:51 AM EST

Most of the calls for low power FM broadcasting have no chance to succeed because they call for sharing the existing 3 meter band (88-108 MHz) with the entrenched corporate broadcasters. They will make the claim that the potential for interference is too great. Setting aside a different set of frequencies nullifies their argument. And this is the first opportunity ever to create a new band for amateur broadcasting adjacent to the existing 3 meter band.

I also think the low-power folks don't go far enough in making sure that they don't simply create another entrenched group of band users. By mandating channel sharing and time limits per week, we can set up a broadcast band where the presumption of frequency ownership is at last negated. That's a world where it really is feasable for just about anyone to have a voice.


[ Parent ]

Semi-oops (none / 0) (#129)
by nsayer on Tue Aug 27, 2002 at 11:53:08 AM EST

I should have followed the link first. Indeed, the FCC is giving out LPFM licenses. I am not molified, however, because...

1. The licenses are not granted to individuals. The Amateur Broadcasting service is intended to grant licenses only to individuals, like the existing Amateur service.

2. In any large market there is zero chance that anyone could actually obtain a license, as the existing 3 meter band is already fully subscribed.

3. Unlicensed ("pirate") radio operators are precluded from applying forever. I think this is misguided. Some unlicensed broadcasters have transmitted high quality, noninterfering broadcasts which have served their communities well. Other pirates have... not... certainly, but a blanket preclusion is inappropriate. Whether a former unlicensed operator is precluded from obtaining a license should be made on a case by case basis, taking into account the merits of the content of the broadcasts and the extent to which the rules were violated.


[ Parent ]

But why? (5.00 / 1) (#132)
by madcap on Sat Nov 16, 2002 at 12:43:55 PM EST

I've seen enough public access television to know that if anything, I want a lot less of it. By and large, it's drivel. I've lived in several major cities. Thanks to public access, I've seen morons debate the relative merits of various professional wrestlers, I've seen new age gurus drone on and on about planetary alignments and I've seen shows that were so poorly produced that they were unwatchable. I've never watched anything on public access a second time. I dont recall every sitting all the way through any of these shows even one time.

Now, fortunately, I have a TV that allows me to program the public access station out so I don't have to stumble through it when I'm surfing. No more public access. And I don't feel at all deprived ...

A Plea for Public Access Television | 132 comments (115 topical, 17 editorial, 1 hidden)
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