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Freedom of Speech and Open Access to the Internet

Tonight on Community Televison, Channel 11, from 7-8:00, "A Growing Concern' will feature both the Director and the Chair of the Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission. They will be discussing open access to the Internet, which, in light of the eminent role portland indymedia played in the coverage of the events surrounding the Bush visit, is a most important subject.
The action in the streets of Portland during the visit of George Bush on August 8th demonstrates the high esteem people have for their constitutionally guaranteed rights to Freedom of Speech.
Unfortunatly, we are in an time where the freedom to speak one's mind is hindered by the price tag imposed by those who have gained control of the Media. The Corporate Media controls radio, broadcast, and all cable televsion networks. To have your voice heard has become an expensive and exclusive priviledge. We all know this.
Yet, how many are aware that the same battle from which Corporations emerged as virtual owners of the public airwaves is right now being waged for these same exclusive rights over access to and ownership of the Internet?
Not too long ago the City of Portland and the Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission,-who oversee Cable franchises in the Portland area, attempted to force AT&T to provide access to competing Internet Service Providers (ISP's) in the Portland area. Upon being sued by AT&T, MHCRC temporarily won in a local court but lost the decision in a higher court.
Though on the surface, this battle was lost, it forced the issue into the public arena, and the conflict still continues in Congress, with the recent passage of a law in the House and one impending in the Senate. These bills are slanted towards cable providers, and ignore the peoples right to access the public air waves, much as timber companies have successfully lobbied, both in the past and in the present, to have their way with public lands.
In my mind, Corporate Media coverage of the Bush visit could have been worse; but, it could have been much better. The real reporting was accomplished over the internet, namely portland indymedia, where people were able to post their experiences and opinions directly to other members of the community, without the filter of newscasters or corporate advertisers. This is the Revolution; this is Freedom of Speech. And it is just this ability, this freedom, this power which Corporations such as AT&T view as a threat to their power and hegemony. It is just this freedom, this ability, this power of the people which is now in danger of being usurped by established Media conglomerates.

Tonight on Community Televison, Channel 11, from 7-8:00, "A Growing Concern' will feature the Director and Chair of the Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission, who will define their role and objectives in the stuggle with AT&T and discuss in depth the threat to Freedom of Speech and Open Access to the Internet.
Sue Diciple, Chair, and David Olson, Director, are articulate speakers and completely dedicated to the necessity for open public access to the Internet. This should be an educational, and hopefully, an illuminating program.
This is a complicated issue and I don't profess to be able to speak in depth about it. But, being the host for this evenings program, I hope that I can ask the right questions and get the most from these distinguished guests.

* (NOTE) Earlier this month there was a presentation sponsored by Oregon chapter of the ACLU, which featured, Sue Diciple, of the MHCRC, and Jeffrey Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, among others, discussing these issues. The link provided with this article brings you to a page where audio files of their presentations are available. They are under the title 'Preserving Digital Democracy.'

The web site for Center for Digital Democracy is www.democraticmedia.org
The web site for Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission is www.mhcrc.org
And of course, for ACLU is www.aclu.org and Oregon ACLU, www.aclu-oregon.org.

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