Office of Communications, Inc.

UCC Media Justice Update

Media ownership diversity ignored again

Today’s Federal Communications Commission order on media ownership is the regulatory equivalent or waving a white flag of surrender. The critical issues of race, power, white privilege and justice are at the center for our national conversation; the media’s coverage of the presidential election may well be determinative of the outcome; and the FCC is peering timidly out from the shadows, showing none of the bold leadership that it brought to bear elsewhere in the last two years.

The FCC made absolutely no progress on media diversity. It has ignored, for a third time, the mandate of the U.S. courts and the directives of the Communications Act. While the FCC did maintain the existing rules, meaning it has not given a green light to more media consolidation, Congress’ action to permit companies to circumvent those rules means we are likely to see—in practice—more joint operations than ever. 

The FCC failed to engage with industry, the civil rights community, or public interest advocates to find any meaningful action to fulfill its statutory obligation to promote media diversity. It is no surprise that we are seeing the same re-hash of the same issues as we have for the last twenty years.

In 1968, the Kerner Commission concluded, “the press has too long basked in a white world, looking out of it, if at all, with white men's eyes and a white perspective. That is no longer good enough. The painful process of readjustment that is required of the American news media must begin now. They must make a reality of integration--in both their product and personnel. They must insist on the highest standards of accuracy--not only reporting single events with care and skepticism, but placing each event into meaningful perspective. They must report the travail of our cities with compassion and depth.”

History’s lesson is as relevant today as it was then. Our only hope is that the next FCC Chair will take up these matters with seriousness and dispatch.

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Categories: media concentration

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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