"Please stand up for the people and for democracy."
A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.
Rescuing democracy from all-consuming corporate interests
Editor, The Times:
There is yet another assault being made on our public airwaves ["Democracy will be heard," Times editorial, Nov. 6, and see The Democracy Papers archive at www.seattletimes.com/thedemocracypapers]. The airwaves legally belong to the people; say No to the FCC chairman's blatant attempt to steal even more power from the people and to funnel it to those who already own an unhealthy share of the communications market.
Why we are still paying for election ads (why aren't our airwaves free to conduct the people's business?); why are we giving away our resources to profit-making companies that are serving not our interests, but those of their private stockholders?
Please stand up for the people and for democracy. Democracy can't exist if the people are ignorant, and we cannot help but be ignorant if corporations control what we know.
Tell our senators and representatives to say no to the FCC's power grab on behalf of the Bush administration's rich corporate buddies.
— Doug Selwyn, Seattle
Programming you can't miss
If the FCC succeeds in allowing further media consolidation, control over information available to citizens, and therefore control over whom we elect, will be concentrated in fewer hands.
That the FCC is pushing this anti-democratic plan demonstrates the extent of control the media corporations already hold over government institutions.
In news stories about events in authoritarian states, the phrase "state-run media" cautions the reader to consider possible bias, distortion, or outright lies. What is the difference between "state-run media" and a "media-run state," where the media — and therefore the government — are controlled by a few, enormously powerful corporations?
— Julie Enevoldsen, Seattle
Don't touch that control
In Portland, Maine, last June, the FCC hearing was a travesty, cynically perpetrated by commercial media and unwitting supporters, with "free speech" reserved for them only.
My wife and I drove nearly two hours for the public-comment session on "localism" in media (the only one held in New England), wanting to comment on how we were being served. We then endured nearly six hours of paid reps of commercial media and needy groups eager to ensure continued free air time for announcements and publicity.
The harangue was only rarely punctuated by independent media and most rarely by plain folks like us. The public was effectively shut out from what was supposed to be our chance to speak.
We the people were poorly served, which is a perfect example of the urgent need to preserve a broad range of independent, reliable sources for our vital information. The FCC must take measures to guarantee that the process isn't gamed and that our voices are heard and heeded.
— Seabury Lyon, Bethel, Maine
More after this break
Times editorial writer Lynne Varner's emotional appeal for continued FCC control of media ["Please, please, please, FCC," editorial column, Nov. 7] contains two facts, from the same study: 13 percent of Americans prefer minority-owned media; and 25 percent regularly consume it. These are all that support her conclusion that minorities need artificial help from the FCC.
If there is demand in a free market, supply will meet it. If a quarter of Americans consume something, someone will bring it to the market without government help.
Perhaps the magazines Jet and Ebony will lose out in a less-regulated market. But I would bet dimes to dollars they end up faring better, especially if they are allowed to merge with small-market, minority-owned publications.
Thanks to the Internet, cable television, the rise of cheap, small-scale publishing and, yes, deregulation, we have the most vibrant media landscape America has ever seen. It would be a shame if we followed Varner in her quest to have the FCC turn the clock back.
— Paul Graves, Olympia
This just in
Mark Allen's "FCC should face reality" [guest commentary, Nov. 8] rightly points out the negative effects of the FCC's media-ownership rules. One not mentioned, however, is how net-neutrality regulations could put a stop to the online media development that Allen favors.
Net-neutrality regulations prohibit consumers from choosing tiered Internet service. Tiered service would improve the quality and speed of media downloads to those who are willing to pay more, while freeing up bandwidth for regular Internet service.
Since the FCC's creation in 1934, FCC commissioners have horribly mismanaged media in the United States.
Thanks to a vibrant economy, emerging technology and a constant stream of brave entrepreneurs, media have outgrown their FCC shackles. It's time for the FCC to recognize this and take a step back.
— Alex Nowrasteh, research associate, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C.
It is beyond believable that this administration is again taking steps to silence its critics. The new postal rate hikes, of 20 to 30 percent for independent news magazines only, will put most of them out of business or out of reach.
I am more appalled at the complacent people of this country than I am at an administration that thinks it is above the law, above the Constitution, above Congress and above the people of this nation.
Next it will be the Internet, a movement that is already in gear. And soon, you will be silenced by force for any communication or belief that the elite, such as this out-of-touch administration, want to erase.
Tell Congress that you will not give up your constitutional rights, including the right to be heard by your government.
— Deborah Harten-Moore, Eatonville
Whose side are we on?
"Median" is not a difficult concept. Indeed, most of us grasped it quickly when it was presented to us during grade school. Strangely, this is something The Times has missed, for year after year you feel compelled to provide a definition each time "median" is employed ["Local home prices slide," Local News, Nov. 7].
Sometimes you have gone so far as to define "median" twice in an issue!
If you must explain "median" for us regularly, why not limit yourself to doing so only once a month? This would grate less on the nerves of those of us who made it through grade school, and it wouldn't hurt anyone whose memory extends back only four weeks.
— Steve Hunziker, Seattle
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