by Josh Silver
Now that the reality of an Obama presidency is sinking in, I want to give you a sense of what it means for the future of the media.
In a nutshell, if the new president lives up to his campaign promises, we are poised to see an unprecedented transformation of U.S. media.
Unlike George W. Bush, the president-elect is a strong supporter of Net Neutrality and universal, affordable Internet access. He is opposed to further consolidation of media ownership, and he is a friend to public broadcasting. Obama’s election represents a sea change in leadership that allows us to go from playing defense to offense.
These are exciting times.
While Free Press is a tax-deductible, nonpartisan organization that cannot and does not endorse political candidates, we are heartened by our nation’s new direction.
Obama’s election rekindles hope that media reform may finally claim its rightful place in American politics as a bona fide political issue — one whose success is essential to progress on every other issue — from health care to the environment, from financial reform to war and peace.
Free Press has worked tirelessly since our founding five years ago to stop the Bush White House from allowing runaway consolidation of media ownership, from slashing funding for public broadcasting, and from handing over control of the Internet to the largest phone and cable companies. Thanks to your unwavering support and activism, we have succeeded to an extent that few thought possible.
However, as the new president inherits a severe economic crisis, two wars, and myriad other problems, it will be too easy for media reform to get pushed down the to-do list.
For a look at Obama’s important media reform pledges during his campaign, go here.
Our job — your job — is to keep our momentum going and make sure President Obama makes good on his campaign pledges in the face of competing priorities and well-financed lobbyists from the phone, cable, and broadcasting companies.
The future of our economy and our democracy requires that Congress and FCC pass policies that get fast, open, affordable Internet to every home and business in America, urban and rural, rich and poor.
We must foster hard-hitting journalism that holds the powerful accountable and covers the issues that affect you most.
There must be no more consolidation of media ownership, and we must create incentives for more independent local radio, television, and print media.
We must double funding for public media — for PBS and NPR, as well as for community media and other noncommercial outlets, and ensure that public media are protected from undue political influence.
Free Press is building a new and unstoppable coalition of every constituency, company, and organization that uses the Internet — young people, religious organizations, nonprofits, and labor. Together, we can wage and win this looming battle for media that nourish — rather than undermine — our democracy.
We are pulling together the countless millions of Americans who treasure public and independent media to create the political will to dramatically increase funding and distribution of alternative media.
And we are going to fight efforts by the Bush administration to give more handouts to Big Media before they leave office on January 20. Free Press is already mobilizing to block eleventh-hour moves.
Over the next few months, we will have a rare moment of opportunity to turn President-Elect Obama’s pledges for media reform into a reality in the next FCC and Congress.
Together, we will determine whether critical, independent voices will reach living rooms in red states and blue states, East and West, rural and urban.
If we do our job right, we could advance several crucial issues in 2009:
1. A permanent Net Neutrality law
2. Redirecting billions of dollars in the “Universal Service Fund” away from subsidizing telephone service and toward high-speed Internet deployment
3. Laying the groundwork for a major increase in support for public, noncommercial media — the crucial alternative to our failing commercial media system
4. Thanks to overwhelming public opposition, we do not anticipate further efforts by the FCC to let Big Media get bigger.
© 2008 – 2015, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.