Office of Communications, Inc.

UCC Media Justice Update

Today We Celebrate

This morning, government officials gathered in DC to vote on the future of the Internet.
 
The astonishing news: WE WON.
 
Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to reclassify the Internet as a public utility, as essential as water and electricity, and adopted strong protections to keep the Internet open and free for this and future generations.
 
One year ago, today’s victory today was unimaginable. We were up against powerful forces that wanted the power to block and slow down sites and create fast lanes for those who could pay—and slow lanes for the rest of us. It didn’t seem like every day Americans had a chance. But millions of us stood up and spoke out: entrepreneurs, educators, artists, activists, and people of many faiths and moral backgrounds.
 
Against all odds, millions of Americans of all faiths and backgrounds fought for our future—a future that preserves the Internet as a space where all our voices can be heard, regardless of income, race, religion, or status. A future where all children and families have the right to learn, connect, innovate, and organize online. A future where we can keep striving to make this world a more just and beautiful place using all the tools available.
 
Today is not only a political victory but a moral victory for millions of Americans, including all of us who participated in the Faithful Internet campaign. Thank you for clicking, recording videos, and writing testimonials. Thank you to the FCC Chairman, Commissioners and staff who listened to the groundswell.
 
How should we celebrate? Online of course.
 
Please like and share this photo with the hashtag #faithfulnet.

We will be in touch about next steps to protect today's victory. But today, we thank you and celebrate together.

With boundless gratitude,
OC Inc.

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More Reform on Prison Phone Rates!

UCC OC Inc., Center for Media Justice and MAGNet teamed up with religious organizations, civil rights groups, labor and many others to submit a letter today supporting further reforms to end predatory prison phone rates.  The letter supported the FCC's proposal to end "kick-back" payments, known as commissions from phone companies to prisons, jails and detention centers.  The letter also urged the FCC to cap local rates and to block unfair fees, to build on the FCC's historic decision to cap long-distance rates in 2014.  We also urged the FCC to take rapid action to protect people with disabilities, and to investigate unscrupulous rates for email and video visitation.  Learn more about prison phone rates on our web page. 

If you have a personal story about prison phone rates, share it with the FCC on this website created by the Prison Phone Justice Campaign.  More information about the new FCC proceeding is available in the flyer prepared by the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net).

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Progress on Diversity Today, Hope for More Diversity Tomorrow

Today the FCC took action which might be a modest harbinger of better news on this front in the future.  The FCC approved a number of transactions which will add new broadcast owners of color and women.  Setting aside the details of each transaction, it is important to note, as Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Clyburn did today, that this welcome increase in African American, Asian American and women owners comes as a direct result of the FCC's decision to start enforcing the ownership rules already on the books.  Last spring the FCC recognized that so-called "sidecar" or Joint Sales Agreements (JSAs) between stations take advantage of a legal loopholes to achieve concentration in excess of ownership limits. 

 

This is a great example showing how the FCC's media ownership rules are an important way that the FCC can ensure we have a diverse media.  The stations transfers approved today took place because, once the loophole was closed, the existing owners were not permitted to keep stations in violation of the FCC's rules.  If the FCC's rules had been enforced as they should have been for the last 15 years, perhaps our media ownership numbers would not be as dismal as they are now.

 

The FCC can repeat this success in its currently pending 2014 Quadrennial Review of ownership rules, but only if it takes action now.  While the FCC closed the loophole of JSAs (which stations use to jointly sell advertising), many other similar ownership arrangements continue under the moniker of "SSAs" or Shared Services Agreements.  Not only are these agreements similar to JSAs in their ability to evade compliance with the FCC's ownership rules, but they strike at the heart of the FCC's core goals because they enable televisions stations to consolidate news operations.   In several important markets in our country--for example in Honolulu--viewers see the same newscast on three separate TV stations.  This not only limits multiple newscasts to one viewpoint, but eliminates jobs for reporters.  These agreements are also problematic because they create "financial dependency," as Wheeler and Clyburn put it, on the part of putative owners, depriving those dependent owners of capital and wealth.

 

SSAs are clothed in secrecy, because unlike JSAs, broadcasters are not required to disclose their terms to either the FCC or the public.  The FCC missed an important opportunity last spring when it could have required these agreements to come under scrutiny.  If the FCC wants to see more deals like the ones it approved today, it needs to require SSA disclosure in the first half of 2015--so there is enough time to analyze these agreements and adopt rules eliminating the remaining loopholes as part of the pending review.   

 

Evan as national events confirm once again, that, yes, race does matter in how we perceive so many important aspects of daily life and public policy, we see a glimmer of hope that the people with insight into the needs of communities who have so long been closed out of the mass media might have a chance to shape local news in some places in the years to come.

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Civil Rights, Media Justice, and Labor Groups Applaud the FCC for Further Action on Unfair Prison Phone Rates

Contact Info:
Stephanie Vanegas, 415-495-4200 ext.101 | stephanie@spitfirestrategies.com

Washington D.C. – In response to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voting to approve a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, to comprehensively reform interstate and intrastate inmate calling services for prisons and detention facilities, civil rights, media justice, and labor groups released the following statement:

“The FCC’s plan to address the cost of local telephone calls to prison, jails and immigration detention facilities is another step toward reducing the unfair financial burden on incarcerated people and their families. We applaud Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Clyburn’s leadership to ensure that inmates can maintain contact withparents and grandparents, children, spouses, siblings, clergy and friends.

Preserving the most reliable way for inmates to keep relationships that matter is one of the best ways to ensure our communities are safer and to decrease re-offenses and reentry into the criminal justice system.

By taking further action, the FCC can finish the job and eliminate predatory phone rates entirely. The agency has an opportunity to increase transparency in an industry that profits from outrageous fees at the expense of families and address the terrible situation facing inmates with disabilities who often cannot communicate with the outside world.

The civil rights, media justice, and labor community stands behind Wheeler and Clyburn because all families deserve the right to stay connected at reasonable and fair rates, as mandated by the Communications Act.  We look forward to rapid completion of this next phase of the FCC’s work."

American Friends Service Committee
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
Center for Media Justice
Common Cause
Communications Workers of America
Free Press
Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD)
Illinois Campaign for Prison Phone Justice of UCIMC
Media Alliance
Media Literacy Project
Open Technology Institute, New America
Prison Policy Initiative
Prisoners Legal Services of Massachusetts
Public Knowledge
NAACP
National Consumer Law Center, on behalf of its low income clients
National Hispanic Media Coalition
New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
United Church of Christ, OC Inc.

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Categories: prison phone  |  press release



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