Some of you were kind enough to respond to my commentary about the sorry state of television. I was bemoaning the lack of decent programming even with 100 channels from which to choose. Most of you who purchase Insight Cablevision think there is nothing that we can do. Au contraire! Cablevision has a unique monopoly in the city of Rockford. They should listen even more to the comments of their customers. And should respond to viewer pressure if enough folks ask for Free Speech TV (FSTV).
For those who dont know, FSTV broadcasts the popular news program called Democracy Now. The channel also covers many of the peace demonstrations as well as new documentaries one would never see. If Insight must broadcast four fundamentalist Christian stations and three overtly Republican stations, the least they could do is offer one progressive option. For more information, look up www.freespeech.org. I reprint a call from FSTV to be put on more cable channels from Rebecca Wallach in Behind the Screen newsletter, Summer 2005 (copyright free):
Free Speech TV reaches over 25 million homes through a full-time DISH Network channel and is part-time on public access channels nationwide. While satellite television is a growing market, seven out of 10 Americans still receive TV programming through cable operators like Comcast and Time Warner. Therefore, they lack full-time access to Free Speech TV.
Americans have more TV channels than ever before, but programming choices continue to dwindle. Free Speech TVs cable carriage campaigns will bring independent programming to millions of additional homes across the United States in the next few years.
Madison, Wis. residents are organizing the first campaign to establish Free Speech TV as a full-time channel on local cable. Over 20 community groups have joined the Madison Campaign for Free Speech on Cable TV since January, including Madison Teachers, Inc., Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice and WORT Community Radio.
A steering committee led by Madison Campaign Coordinator Jill Hopke works together to advance the campaign through community events and press coverage. They also provide a range of actions for Madison residents who want to make Charter Communications aware of growing community demand for Free Speech TV.
Success in Madison will strengthen independent progressive media by increasing access to Free Speech TVs programming and providing an alternative to cable offerings.
Suggestions to take action
Unlock the cable monopoly. Help independent and grassroots media access the public airwaves: www.newamerica.net.
Challenge lax media ownership rules. Demand that the Federal Communications Commission listen to citizens when it makes policy: www.freepress.net.
Create your own news: Submit video, articles and audio clips to the Independent Media Center (IMC) for worldwide distribution: www.indymedia.org.
And contact Rockford Insight and tell them you want Free Speech TV!
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.
From the July 20-26, 2005, issue