Office of Communications, Inc.

UCC Media Justice Update

Victory on Economic Justice - Affordable Broadband

Yesterday we had a great, twofold victory for communications rights. The Lifeline program helps low-income people to find jobs, get an education and connect to emergency services by offering a modest financial subsidy to subscribe to telephone, and after a new FCC ruling takes effect this year, to Internet services. 

 

Advocates for social justice fended off a bill that would have crippled Lifeline by blocking Lifeline recipients from using mobile phone or internet services--this even though people of color are more likely to rely on mobile devices than other people. Allies from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, National Consumer Law Center, Media Action Grassroots Network and so many others online came out in opposition. Congressman Pallone and other champions of the Lifeline program defended it and voted to save it.

 

The bill, which was brought through an unusual process, forced through by House leadership, was voted down on the House floor. The loss was so substantial that another amendment to cap the program and block eligible families from obtaining their subsidies, that was to be offered later this week as part of a budget bill was withdrawn.

 

This program is essential, it has been recognized by the President as an important part of our policies to improve economic justice. Great thanks to everyone who wrote, tweeted, posted, made speeches yesterday to ensure that we can keep our communities connected.


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Joyful Celebration - Open Internet Upheld!

Good news!  Today, a U.S. federal court upheld the Federal Communications Commission's rules safeguarding the open internet.  UCC OC Inc. co-founded the Faithful Internet campaign to advocate for an open internet.

 

As faith leaders, we applaud today's ruling in federal court to uphold net neutrality rules. These rules protect the ability of people of all faiths and backgrounds to communicate, create, and organize online.

 

The future of faithful life, service and social justice work in America depends on these rules. In a time of fear and polarization, we need the open Internet now more than ever to fulfill the call of our faiths and moral traditions and build the beloved community.

 

Share your joy online, tag it #faithfulnet and follow the Faithful Internet campaign at @thefaithfulnet and onFacebook or UCC OC Inc. at @uccmediajustice and on Facebook.

 

Joyfully,

Cheryl & Valarie

Faithful Internet Co-Founders

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Federal Court: Time for Delay on Ownership Diversity Studies is Over

Upon the issuance of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit’s decision in Prometheus Radio Project v. Federal Communications Commission, Cheryl Leanza, policy advisor for UCC OC Inc. said:

Since 2004 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has been reviewing the FCC’s media ownership rules—pressing again and again for FCC action to accompany the FCC’s words in support of increasing media ownership diversity. 

The Third Circuit has confirmed that the time for delay is over.  The FCC has promised studies on minority and female ownership for more than two decades and today the court has concluded, if the FCC “needs more data” to find a definition that will improve minority ownership, “it must get it.” 

The United Church of Christ’s media justice ministry, OC Inc., looks forward to sitting down with the FCC to develop a timeline within the court-ordered 60-day timeframe to make sure that the long-awaited studies are undertaken.

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Categories: media diversity

Rev. Traci Blackmon to be 2016 Parker Lecturer on October 13, 2016

For Immediate Release
 
REV. TRACI BLACKMON TO DELIVER
34RD ANNUAL EVERETT C. PARKER LECTURE
 

The Rev. Traci Blackmon, acting executive minister of the United Church of Christ’s Justice and Witness Ministries, will deliver the 34rd annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture. The event, organized by the UCC’s media justice ministry, the Office of Communication, Inc., will be held at 8 a.m. EST on Thursday October 13 at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, DC.

Blackmon came to national attention in the fall of 2014 as part of the pastoral presence in Ferguson, Mo., working to quell months of civil unrest following the fatal police shooting of black teenager Michael Brown in August of that year. Blackmon, then senior pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Mo., served on Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s Ferguson Commission, which studied the underlying causes of the racial conflicts in that city and made recommendations on how to address them.

 

Blackmon assumed her current position with the UCC’s national setting on January 1, 2016. Later that month, President Barack Obama appointed her to his 15-member Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. She was one of the black leaders recognized in 2015 by being named to Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 list.

 

Blackmon was ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and has more than 30 years of experience in the health care industry, first as a registered nurse and later as coordinator of health, mind, body and spirit for BJC HealthCare, one of the country’s largest nonprofit health care organizations. She is the founder of the Sista SOS Summit, an intergenerational symposium designed to assist women toward spiritual and sexual wholeness, and is co-founder of “When Women Gather. . . ,” a monthly ecumenical gathering committed to the spiritual growth and development of women.

 

Rev. Blackmon expressed her pleasure at being asked to offer this year’s lecture, stating, “the media—whether on television or online—play a critical role in our ability to spread God’s word and work together for social justice,” she said. “I’m looking forward to exploring the intersections between a just media and a just world.”

 

The Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture was created in 1982 to recognize the late Rev. Dr. Parker, founder of OC, Inc., and his pioneering work as an advocate for the public's rights in broadcasting. The event is the only lecture in the country to examine telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective. Past speakers have included network presidents, Congressional leaders, and FCC chairs and commissioners, as well as academics, cable and telephone executives and journalists. More information is available at www.uccmediajustice.org.

 

The Cleveland-based United Church of Christ, a Protestant denomination with nearly 1 million members and more than 5,000 local congregations nationwide, recognizes the unique power of the media to shape public understanding and thus society as a whole. For this reason, the UCC’s OC, Inc. has worked since its founding in 1959 to create just and equitable media structures that give a meaningful voice to diverse peoples, cultures and ideas. 

 
 
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United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc.

Cheryl A. Leanza, media contact

202-904-2168

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Affordable Broadband Door Opened

Today the Federal Communications Commission voted to modernize the Lifeline program today.  The Lifeline program subsidy for low-income consumers will now apply to broadband Internet access. 

The United Church of Christ has a long-standing commitment to economic justice and communications rights.   We envision a world where education and economic opportunity is open to everyone.The vote to modernize Lifeline and to provide the first nationwide subsidy for low-income household access to broadband service will make a huge difference in the lives of tens of millions of families. United Church of Christ's media justice ministry and its partners in the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights have been asking for the Lifeline program to subsidize broadband access since 2010. Commerce Department data from 2010 shows at the time, 42.9 percent of households earning $25,000 or less subscribed to broadband at home and that number has only inched up to about 46 or 47 percent today.

The Internet is the tool that unlocks the doors to information, jobs, education--and for too many low income people that door has remained locked. The Internet has been out of reach, glimpsed from afar courtesy of kind neighbors, 30 minute slots at the library, or by kids huddling outside school to catch a wi-fi signal to do their homework. Millions of households are waiting to unlock the door to economic equity and opportunity. Thursday's vote is a critical step toward that open door. 

 

Commissioner Clyburn has been dedicated to the needs of the "least of these" from the minute she was sworn in at the FCC. We thank Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Clyburn for their steadfast support for low-income people.

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