April 1, 2019 – Dozens of community media professionals gathered this morning at the John F. Kennedy Federal building in Boston to join Senator Ed Markey (D, MA) in a roundtable discussion and press conference regarding the FCC’s recent proposed rulemaking around funding for community media stations. This rulemaking would redefine what cable companies using public rights of way owe back to local communities and could have catastrophic effects on the operation of community media stations in Massachusetts and beyond. Senator Markey was also joined by Geoffrey Beckwith, the Executive Director & CEO of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, Medford Mayor Stephanie Muccini-Burke and MassAccess President, Melinda Garfield. Panelists fielded questions and listened to success stories of community media all across the Commonwealth.
“We’re the revolutionary state and this is where the revolution begins against the Federal Communications Commission,” said Senator Markey in his press conference. “This is where the fight begins, and we’re going to spread this across the whole country, because at jeopardy is nothing less than democracy, nothing less than the voices of ordinary citizens in every single city and town in Massachusetts and the whole country, and we are in now for the fight.” The fight itself actually began in the later part of 2018, when the FCC opened a comment period on its proposed rulemaking. A delegate from MassAccess visited the FCC along with representatives of the Alliance for Community Media in March and the office of each commissioner expressed surprise at the outpouring of support from not only community media professionals, but viewers, municipal authorities and state legislators as well.
” The FCC would have you believe that community media is an antiquated ideal or a relic of a previous technological era – but they are simply ill informed. Community media has evolved from its modest roots to become a staple in the fabric of the communities we serve – and its loss would be felt for decades to come.” Added Garfield during her comments. The FCC has given no indication to this point on a timetable for decision regarding this matter.