Greetings all,
Last night I attended the first of two training/prep meetings for the FCC hearing scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, March 7 at the Broad Street Presbyterian Church, just east of the I-70 bridge on the north side (parking in rear; COTA #16). More details can be found at the website of one of the sponsors, the "other" Free Press:

We received informative packets about the FCC and the issues involving media consolidation, the primary focus of this hearing. It is "informal" even though 3 of 5 FCC commissioners will be in attendance, the first for Commissioner McDowell, a Republican. The others have included only the Democrat appointees but because Columbus had a grandparented exception put in place (so that the Dispatch, TV, and radio could be owned by same people), we are a unique place to discuss the limited and limiting perspectives of limited, focused ownership. This coupled with issues of competition and advertising as well as pushing out local news, even in emergencies as some communities have reported.

The record of this hearing will be submitted for public viewing at several websites but the more stories of being affected by media consolidation on your life, the better. Whether it be from a small business perspective and limited places to advertise if you oppose viewpoints of many stations here and the effects on competition to sensing indecency when listening to public discourse that is racist or otherwise biased and possibly even hate-inspired and inspiring to issues of not having your public interests served with adequate, fair, and accessible media about candidates and campaigns running for public office and beyond. YOUR stories matter. Is there an issue you care about but isn't getting "air time"? Now is a time to put it in the public record to show the real effects ON and IN communities when the ownership and perspectives of media are limited.

DETAILS Sign up for testimony is at 4pm just outside the are of the hearing. You'll have just TWO minutes at the mike, in groups of 10. The commissioners will speak first, then a selected panel who have unique grievances to share with the panel (this is not a give and take dialogue about the issues - this is testimony only), then open to the public in the order of signing up. You are ENCOURAGED to bring information on paper or electronic to submit to the panel for the record including longer, typed testimony. You will be given a 30 second warning to wrap up. You can give your materials to the person at or near the mic when you are finished and you are welcome to stay to hear others. There will be sign language interpreters there; however, no child care is arranged yet.

In other communities there was a bit more public notice and organizing so I'm sending this to you and, hopefully, you'll send it to others who don't know it but media is their "second issue" after whatever it is make them work in the community already.

At the website above you can read more about the other informal and the 3 formal hearings held to date. In addition, you can find information about TONIGHT'S second prep session - materials give out last night included what's under the link Materials You'll need Adobe Acrobat to open.

Hope to see many of you there. You can compose your two minutes while listening to what the issues are. Remember how important the media is to us at the Free Press especially but also to the many organizations and causes represented by my select lists here. Imagine if all of OUR voices could be found in print, radio, and television and film and even advertising. What a world THAT would be!

Thanks for your time and attention with this emergency action alert for our community! Please forward whatever portion of this you can especially to other activists, other alternative or smaller media outlets, and even independent musicians so they can be heard as well!

In solidarity and for visibility,
Michel Coconis