Fwd: Reaction to PIAC Report

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Tue, 5 Jan 1999 10:46:43 -0800 (PST)

>The following was sent to letters to the editor of the Chicago Tribune,
>Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Herald, Daily Southtown, Lerner, the Chicago
>Defender and Crain's Chicago Business, as well as the Sun-Times' Robert
>Feder, Steve Huntley, Mary Mitchell and the Trib's Marcia Lythcott, Jim
>Kirk, Eric Zorn, Stephen Chapman and Tim Jones.
>From: Barbara Popovic, Thom Clark, Joan Gunzberg
>Date: December 23, 1998
>Subject: Gore Commission Report
>The enclosed letter is being submitted as a letter to the Editor.
>Contact information for each of the submittors is as follows:
>Barbara Popovic
>Executive Director
>Chicago Access Corporation
>322 S. Green
>Chicago, IL 60607-3544
>(312) 738-1400
>FAX: (312) 738-2519
>E-mail: Popovic@anet-chi.com
>Thom Clark
>Community Media Workshop
>c/o Columbia College
>600 S. Michigan
>Chicago, IL 60605-1996
>(312) 344-6400
>FAX: (312) 344-6404
>E-mail: ThomNews@aol.com
>Joan Gunzberg
>Executive Director
>Arts & Business Council of Chicago
>70 E. Lake St. Suite 500
>Chicago, IL 60601-5907
>(312) 372-1876
>FAX: (312) 372-1102
>E-mail: info@artsbiz-chicago.org
>Lost in the din of impeachment hearings and air raids last week, a great
>opportunity was wasted in Washington. The Gore Commission, charged with
>assessing television broadcasters' responsibilities in the digital era,
>had the chance to make a powerful contribution to the future of
>television as a social and educational resource. The Gore Report,
>released Dec. 18, proved instead to be a diluted document, its
>principles tainted by the pervasive influence of the broadcast lobby.
>Use of multi-billion dollar spectrum space was granted to broadcasters
>last year by the Federal Communications Commission to take advantage of
>innovations in digital technology. Beyond much-touted high definition
>television, broadcasters will be able to "multicast" several channels in
>the space of a single current channel, tailor interactive advertising to
>individual viewers, and offer internet, paging and cellular services.
>What do broadcasters owe the public in return for additional profits
>they stand to make via the publicly owned airwaves? Broadcasters need
>to provide airtime and funds to support community use. Like the
>broadcast spectrum, Chicago's lakefront is a publicly owned resource.
>If plans for Chicago's lakefront had been turned over to private
>developers, the public today might have only limited access to Lake
>Michigan, and only a fraction of the park all Chicagoans enjoy.
>Admirably, the Gore Commission recommends that broadcasters set aside
>channels for educational and noncommercial use, or pay into a fund to
>support noncommercial programming. But the Commission calls for
>voluntary compliance on the part of broadcasters instead of any genuine
>obligations, and in the name of experimentation offers a two-year
>moratorium before even voluntary standards are applied.
>Encouraging broadcasters to voluntarily pave the way for public use of
>the new spectrum space sounds great but has no historical precedent.
>Today, nonprofit organizations, institutions and community groups
>struggle for access to costly, inaccessible commercial television. They
>must use other means, like public access television, to link citizens
>with much needed local resources and services in areas such as health
>care, education, arts and cultural opportunities, jobs and training.
>Local, community-based programming from a variety of voices must be
>incorporated into the digital broadcasting formula before every segment
>of the spectrum has been filled for maximum advertising return.
>Cable companies in Chicago and elsewhere set aside channels and funding
>for use by citizens and nonprofits through public access stations. Now
>that broadcasters have the power to offer multichannel programming like
>their competitors in the cable industry, they should be held to similar
>standards of public service. If the energy of the nonprofit sector was
>channeled into broadcasting, the rewards would be immeasurable. Imagine
>the growth of civil society that could occur if broadcast television was
>conceived not just as an assembly line for the manufacture, distribution
>and consumption of products, but as a fully interactive and
>participatory communications resource.
>Barbara Popovic
>Executive Director
>Chicago Access Corporation
>Thom Clark
>Community Media Workshop
>Joan Gunzberg
>Executive Director
>Arts & Business Council of Chicago
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Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley, CA 94720-6000

"You are looking into the mind of home video. It is innocent, it is aimless,
it is determined, it is real" --Don DeLillo, Underworld