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  • Sylvia Moore 1:09 pm on February 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AJE, , , Arab, Arabic, , BBC World News, , , cable companies, , , , , foreign, , international, , , , , , , , , , web   

    I Want My A-J-E (Al Jazeera English)! 

    If you want the best, most comprehensive coverage of the uprising in Egypt, Al Jazeera English (AJE) is the place to tune in. The images and reporting have been nothing short of riveting. But most people in the United States, including here in Los Angeles, have no access to the channel on their cable systems. Instead, if you have Internet access, you can view AJE online through its live video stream. Thank goodness for that. As a result, the news channel has seen a 2,500% increase in traffic to its web site this week — 60% of that from the U.S., according to Tony Burman, Al Jazeera’s chief strategic adviser for the Americas. Clearly, many Americans want more in depth information about Eygpt’s revolution than the shallow and sensationalistic U.S. media provide.

    Launched in 2006, AJE is the English language counterpart to Al Jazeera, the Doha, Qatar-based, Arabic-language news channel immensely popular around the Arab world. Unfortunately, Al Jazeera has had a bad reputation in the U.S., where it’s known mainly as the channel where Osama bin Laden liked to showcase his greatest hits. During the Bush years, administration officials and conservatives accused Al Jazeera of being anti-American. And Israel supporters aren’t big fans of the channel, which typically gives a lot more attention to the suffering of the Palestinians. Outside the U.S., Al Jazeera gets a better reception, and is known as a hard-hitting independent network that’s not afraid to cast an unflattering light on autocratic dictators. For example, in Egypt, the regime has kicked the network out of the country, arrested its journalists, and banned it from the airwaves there.

    AJE is seen in more than 100 countries, including Canada and yes, Israel. But AJE is only available on cable stations in Washington D.C., Toledo, Ohio, and Burlington,Vermont, of all places. I have Time Warner digital, and I saw that one of the KCET digital channels – KCETM 239 – is supposed to carry a half-hour of AJE on weeknights. But when I actually checked last night, strangely, an Asian soap opera was running in the time slot. Anyway, I’ll go back to watching as much of AJE as I want on my computer desktop. But it would still be nice to be able to watch it on the TV while lying on my couch in the den or eating a snack in the kitchen.

    So why the near blackout in the U.S.? Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim writes that there are political and commercial reasons, and he points to an illuminating essay from a former AJE  associate producer, Paige Austin. Below is a video from Democracy Now! this week about the media blackout of AJE in the U.S. and of Al Jazeera in Egypt:

    I’ve watched AJE occasionally for about two years. Being the news junkie that I am, and dissatisfied with the quality and dearth of international news in the American media, I was excited when I first learned of AJE’s existence. Initially, you could only get selected videos on YouTube. Later, AJE’s streaming video became available through a site called LiveStation, which has several international news channels, including BBC World Service (audio only), Deutsche Welle (audio only), RFI, Russia Today and France 24. I only discovered this week that AJE now streams directly from its web site. All of these streams are free.

    Seeing how the news is reported outside of the American (or even Western) prism is refreshing and revealing. Instead of an over-reliance on a couple of pundits carping at each other in a two-sided debate, you’re likely to see more academics, representatives from non-governmental organizations, human rights activists and regular people from the street give their views on issues of the day. While watching the coverage of the Egyptian protests, I heard analysis from several Middle Eastern experts, a human rights activist who was jailed by the regime, a blogger, several protesters and a U.S. congressman I’d never seen on American TV before.

    Al Jazeera executives are actively trying to get American cable companies to offer AJE, and they are using the Internet stats to bolster their case. It’s probably still going to be an uphill battle, just because of all the ignorance and prejudice against anything that isn’t American, especially if it comes from the Arab world. BBC World News, the BBC’s international channel, also isn’t widely available in the U.S. Its only Los Angeles presence is a few half-hour segments on local public television and a four-hour block on the cable channel, BBC America.

    BBC America, a channel specifically created for the U.S. market, shows re-runs of popular U.K. programs (Los Angeles stations: Time Warner Cable Channel 131, AT&T U-verse Channel 188, DIRECT TV Channel 264, and DISH Network Channels 135 and 879). It only has three hours of BBC World News, which unfortunately, airs very early in the morning. On weeknights, however, the channel airs a one-hour news show tailored to the American audience called BBC World News America. This program broadcasts from Washington D.C. and reports on domestic American news, often times from an angle you rarely see on American television. For example, I found the channel’s coverage on the financial crisis from the point of view of ordinary Americans particularly good. BBC World News America is also a good supplement to the lack of comprehensive international news on American media. If you don’t have cable, you can watch BBC World News America videos on its web site.

    If I have one beef about BBC World News America, it’s that the show’s anchors interview some of the same American media pundits and Beltway lawmakers who have no fresh ideas, and whom I wanted to get away from in the first place. Also, I wish the anchors would get a lot tougher with their questioning, especially when Congressperson So-and-So is playing fast and loose with the truth. I find that AJE anchors tend to be a bit more challenging, especially with American government officials and lawmakers.

    A few years ago, I signed a petition BBC World News circulated to get its channel into more American homes – including Los Angeles – but it looks like that effort went nowhere. So regrettably, most Americans are stuck with the provincial and mind-numbing American news media, that do their best to shield the public from much of what’s really going on in the rest of the world, and from the uncomfortable truths about their own country. I find it quite interesting that it’s just fine for the Beltway politicians to watch AJE on their TV sets, but most of their constituents can’t be exposed to such alternative views. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I believe most Americans do care about international news and want a diversity of viewpoints if given the opportunity. What are they really afraid of if AJE, or even BBC or another foreign news service were widely available in the U.S.? That Americans just might form opinions contrary to what the ruling Washington and corporate elites want them to think? The best the public can do at this point is to keep putting the pressure on their cable companies. One can hope that AJE’s new-found publicity and popularity among Americans will cause the cable companies to cave.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 12:44 pm on February 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , commercial television, , , , , , , , PBS, Pew Research Center, Public Policy Polling, public television, , web   

    PBS Most Trusted News; ABC Least Trusted 

    ABC is officially the least trusted name in news. That’s according to a recent survey by Public Policy Polling. A plurality of respondents, 35 percent find ABC trustworthy, while 43 percent find it untrustworthy. But 50 percent of respondents find PBS trustworthy, while 30 percent don’t. Fox, or “Faux” News as its detractors like to call it, has seen its credibility with viewers hit the skids recently. Though the cable outlet was in the middle of the pack in trustworthiness, it had the highest percentage of people who found it untrustworthy at 46 percent:


    Source: Public Policy Polling

    The fact that commercial television news has so little credibility with the public is no surprise. Much of what passes for “news” on these stations are screaming talking heads, stealth advertising, fluff, misinformation and disinformation. It’s little wonder that the public is hungering for alternatives like public television – which should be expanded – and the Internet. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that more and more people, young and old, are turning away from television as their main source of news and fleeing to the Web. But if the enemies of net neutrality have their way, the Internet will come to resemble the putrid cesspool that television has become.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 6:46 pm on December 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , mobile devices, , , , , web   

    Internet Freedom On the Line 

    On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission is set to vote on new rules that critics say could allow media conglomerates to decide whose content gets to be seen on the Internet and whose doesn’t. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is said to have the votes he needs to pass net neutrality regulation.

    Internet freedom advocates are blasting Genachowski and the Obama administration for reneging on a campaign promise that candidate Obama made, saying he would protect the Internet from corporate meddling. But, the proposed rules – which haven’t been made public – would let telecommunications companies block or slow down Web content accessed through wireless devices, advocates complain. Mobile devices, like smartphones and iPads, are poised to become the dominant medium through which people access the Web.

    Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, who has been a tireless advocate for net neutrality, wrote in The Huffington Post this morning that no less than our free speech and right to information is at stake:

    For many Americans — particularly those who live in rural areas — the future of the Internet lies in mobile services. But the draft Order would effectively permit Internet providers to block lawful content, applications, and devices on mobile Internet connections.

    Mobile networks like AT&T and Verizon Wireless would be able to shut off your access to content or applications for any reason. For instance, Verizon could prevent you from accessing Google Maps on your phone, forcing you to use their own mapping program, Verizon Navigator, even if it costs money to use and isn’t nearly as good. Or a mobile provider with a political agenda could prevent you from downloading an app that connects you with the Obama campaign (or, for that matter, a Tea Party group in your area).

    It gets worse. The FCC has never before explicitly allowed discrimination on the Internet — but the draft Order takes a step backwards, merely stating that so-called “paid prioritization” (the creation of a “fast lane” for big corporations who can afford to pay for it) is cause for concern.

    It sure is — but that’s exactly why the FCC should ban it. Instead, the draft Order would have the effect of actually relaxing restrictions on this kind of discrimination.

    Everyone who uses the Internet should make this issue a top priority. I can imagine a world where there is no protection against discrimination on the Internet, where the Web is no longer the dynamic and fascinating medium it is now. A world where people can only get the same old, tired crap offered on television and terrestrial radio. A world where dissent is drowned out or blacked out in favor of corporate propaganda and innovation is squashed in favor of ossification. A world where you may no longer get to read this blog. Hopefully, these new rules can be struck down, which is what an Internet law expert, interviewed below, predicts:

    Vodpod videos no longer available.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 3:16 pm on November 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: connection, , , , speed, , web   

    Middling Internet Speed in the Country That Invented the Internet 

    When it comes to average Internet connection speeds, the United States is, well…average. According to a new survey by Akamai Technologies, and reported on the Royal Pingdom blog, the U.S. ranks 12th in Internet speed, behind such countries as Canada, the Czech Republic, Japan and even Romania. The survey ranks the top 50 countries with the most Internet users.

    Although the U.S. ranks second in number of users overall (behind #1 China), the country has an average speed of 4.60 megabits per second. South Korea is the overall speed champion, with an average speed of 16.63 megabits per second, but ranking eleventh in number of users. America’s middling speed ranking is rather embarrassing for the country that invented the Internet, and thinks of itself as exceptional in just about everything. Improving Internet connection speed is important if we want to continue to innovate as a country. Hopefully, now that the Federal Communications Commission has completed its national broadband plan earlier this year, America can concentrate on catching up.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 6:28 pm on September 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , lobbyists, , , , , , , , web   

    Waxman Compromise on Net Neutrality DOA 

    When word leaked a few days ago that House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman had drafted compromise legislation that would effectively neuter strong net neutrality rules, media reformers erupted in protest. Waxman has been a strong proponent of net neutrality, and had reaffirmed his support in a meeting with citizens and members of L.A. Media Reform and Free Press earlier this month. So the news came as a shock. Or perhaps it shouldn’t have been. Lobbyists from the telecommunications industry have literally been inundating members of Congress like flies swarming a piece of meat. I’m quite sure they were breathing down Waxman’s back.

    Theories abound as to why Waxman decided to cut a deal with the telecoms – one possible reason being resolving the issue in the best way possible in case the GOP takes over the House in November. But, no matter. The Washington Post reported today that the GOP shot down the bill anyway, and Waxman is urging the Federal Communications Commission to reassert its authority over broadband. Waxman is still pinning his hopes on a bipartisan approach to this issue, but he realizes it probably ain’t likely.

    The fight over keeping corporations from treating the Internet like their own personal fiefdom illustrates the sorry state of America’s electoral system. The fact that Waxman feels that he even has to compromise with a bunch of amoral profitmongers, who, I believe, wouldn’t hesitate to put Web users in digital straitjackets if that will pad their bottom line, shows that the needs of ordinary Americans count for less and less in Congress. If we Americans want different behavior from our political representatives, we’re going to have to support politicians who are going to work to take away corporations’ ability to meddle in our democracy.

    I wonder if the Democratic Party leadership realizes how a free and open Internet is the only thing right now that is keeping the party competitive with the Republicans in the wake of Citizens United, the Supreme Court case that practically handed the electoral store to the monied interests. It was the blogosphere that enabled the Democrats to retake Congress in 2006, and it was the legions of small donors who used the Web to help put Barack Obama in the White House.

    The corporate media cabal made up of network and cable television, print newspapers and talk radio simply does not put the progressive point of view on an even playing field with the conservative one.  The Internet is the only place one can turn to for an alternative to the conventional, corporate-dominated Beltway thinking of the traditional media.

     
    • Michael E. Russell 7:00 am on October 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Great post, Sylvia, keep up the good work. I’ll re post it.

      • Sylvia Moore 12:38 pm on October 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Michael!

    • maximus 8:07 am on October 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Email press@google.com and tell the people at google that you have stopped using the google search engine and all other google products until Google decides to break the deal with verizon to end net neutrality.

  • Sylvia Moore 3:58 pm on September 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Ed Markey, , , , , , House of Representatives, , L.A. Media Reform, , , Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, , web   

    Net Neutrality Supporters Visit Rep. Henry Waxman 

    When a group of ordinary citizens go together to lobby a lawmaker in his or her home district, that’s always a big deal. Visits like these should be done frequently, because corporate shills are pressuring congresspeople all the time. Repeated visits, phone calls and letters are the weapons we have to counteract them.

    On Wednesday, members of the L.A. Media Reform Group joined representatives of Free Press, the Writers Guild of America West, Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles and citizen activists met with west L.A.-area Rep. Henry Waxman to speak about net neutrality. Waxman is the powerful chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which oversees issues having to do with communications and technology. He is also a co-sponsor of H.R. 3458, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, introduced by Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

    Now that Google and Verizon have pretty much kicked open the door toward corporate control of the Internet, the need for Congress to act is all the more urgent. Aparna Sridhar, policy counsel for Free Press, explained to Waxman what the three most troubling concerns are to net neutrality advocates: 1) that the big telecommunications companies’ opposition to net neutrality has become more entrenched, 2) that there is increasing desire for the telecom industry to write its own rules, and 3) that carriers are using a recent unfavorable court decision against the Federal Communications Commission as leverage to get what they want.

    Each person in our group then expressed to Waxman why having a free, open and non-discriminatory Internet is so important in his or her life. For example, Waxman constituent and progressive activist Lauren Steiner spoke about her career in local cable television, specifically public access. Steiner explained how public access was the “first electronic soapbox,” which enabled anyone with an opinion to express themselves without the filter of an editor or having to put up a lot of money to own a station. She said that now in an era where equal time rules and the Fairness Doctrine have long since been eliminated, the Internet is the only democratic media outlet for people.

    “If we lose net neutrality, our democracy will suffer irreparable harm” said Steiner, who set up and facilitated the meeting with Waxman.

    Others in the group talked about the importance of net neutrality to keeping the public informed about election fraud, keeping people civically engaged, and enabling writers and musicians to create their works openly and without interference. Concerns about censorship, media consolidation and no longer having an even electoral playing field were also expressed. Writer, musician and activist Brad Parker stressed that the Internet is a public utility like interstate highways, and that without net neutrality, it will be harder for entrepreneurs to create new businesses.

    Sridhar asked Waxman if he would lend his stature as chairman of House Energy & Commerce to a net neutrality bill that would contain meaningful enforcement mechanisms, as well as a complete ban on making content providers pay for priority status on the Web. Although Waxman re-affirmed his support for net neutrality, he did not say he would sponsor a separate bill to the Markey legislation.

    Waxman said he wants the FCC to be able to reclassify broadband as a “telephone service” subject to more regulation, but that the court decision has complicated matters. The Bush-era FCC had changed broadband classification to a looser regulated “information service.” Waxman said there’s not enough support right now in Congress to pressure the FCC to do the reclassification. He suggested that net neutrality supporters lobby Republicans and those conservative Democrats who are opposed to any kind of legislation. Waxman added that what would help is getting conservative groups who do favor net neutrality, such as the Christian Coalition, to lobby Republicans.

    It’s terrific that Waxman remains on the right side of this issue. For those of us hoping that he would use his position to make net neutrality a higher priority in the House, we were disappointed. Although the Markey bill is a good one, it’s currently stalled. But Waxman is right. Activists need to start putting the heat on those members of Congress who are obstructing progress on net neutrality. These particular lawmakers and their constituents need to be educated as to how a free and open Internet would benefit them, the economy and our society. And it wouldn’t hurt of course to let the opposing lawmakers’ constituents know just how much money their representatives are taking from the telecoms.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 5:16 pm on August 24, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , web   

    Al Franken Calls Net Neutrality “Biggest Issue Since Freedom of Religion” 

    Video of Sen. Al Franken’s speech at last week’s Federal Communications Commission hearing on net neutrality:

     
  • Sylvia Moore 10:53 am on August 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , web   

    Will the Public Finally Get Energized About Net Neutrality? 

    Sometimes I wonder what it was going to take to get the public more galvanized on the issue of protecting Net Neutrality. As if the Supreme Court’s enthusiastic approval of oligarchy wasn’t enough, we’re facing another one of the biggest threats to free speech and democracy – corporate control of the Web.

    Basically, the telecommunications industry wants to erect tollbooths on the Internet. They want to make content creators pay top dollar for their web sites to download faster. They want to choose winners and losers, get rid of competition and make consumers cough up more money. Gutting net neutrality is great if you’re a certain cable company, like, say, Comcast, who wants to merge with a certain entertainment company, like, say, NBC Universal, and combined, you wish to crush any troublesome Internet entertainment startup. Gutting net neutrality would also be great news for the giant television news outlets and bad news for any of the myriad of web sites that criticize them.

    Unfortunately, net neutrality was never the sexiest political issue. So maybe the announcement last week that Google and Verizon were proposing to put up the tollbooths on the wireless Internet (your smartphone) would wake people up. Google was initially the premier corporate champion of net neutrality, so the company’s about-face shocked and angered many. Apparently, since Google is now getting into the cell phone business, suddenly net neutrality was no longer good for the bottom line.

    Google and Verizon swear they want to keep the wired Internet (your PC) free and open, but the proverbial camel’s nose is sniffing under that tent. Consumer and media reform groups and some lawmakers have been the most vocal advocates for net neutrality. But greater support for net neutrality has to come from average Joes and Janes who use the Web. Too many people I fear are still apathetic on this issue. If you don’t start bugging your representatives, you may one day find that your favorite web sites are taking five minutes or more to load. Or you may find you have to pay extra for content you once got for free.

    Comedian and now U.S. Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken, has been at the forefront in fighting for net neutrality in Congress. Today, at 4PM PST (6PM Central), the Federal Communications Commission is holding a hearing in Minneapolis on the issue. The proceedings will be streamed live.

    In the video below, Franken talks on local Minnesota television about the importance of net neutrality.

    Below are some good opinion pieces about net neutrality:

    Google-Verizon Deal: The End of The Internet as We Know It

    Our view on ‘net neutrality’: Don’t erect tollbooths on information superhighway


    To show your support for net neutrality, sign Sen. Franken’s petition and send your comments to the FCC by going to Save the Internet. And also, call, write and fax your congressperson and senators. If you don’t know your representatives, you can look them up by entering your zip code on Congress.org.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 1:07 pm on July 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Institute of Popular Education, , , Mobile Voices, , Voces Moviles, VozMob, web, ZeroDivide   

    Netroots Nation Panel on Bridging the Digital Divide 

    How can the poor, who often have limited or no access to the Internet, become content providers on the Web? What’s being done to help those who can’t afford computers get their concerns and messages across over the Internet? These issues and more were discussed last week at the Netroots Nation panel Building a National Broadband Plan: How Activists in California Are Bridging the Digital Divide. Featured speakers were Sasha Constanza-Chock, founder of VozMob (Voces Moviles, Mobile Voices); Madelou Gonzalez, a VozMob member and volunteer for the Institute of Popular Education of Southern California; Amalia Deloney, Grassroots Policy Director for the Center for Media Justice; and Ruth Williams, Community Investment Officer for ZeroDivide. LA Media Reform’s own Will Coley served as moderator. Watch the entire session below:

    Vodpod videos no longer available.

     
    • Amanda 2:55 pm on August 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Nice! I hope we can get some of those (all!) speakers at our upcoming summit… Access to Broadband as topic for our panel?

      As stated above, barriers to broadband include access and affordability…”One of the more hidden barriers is relevancy. For people to desire broadband generally, they must understand why it’s important to have it. This understanding is strongest when people become generators and producers of their own content. We found that content’s level of sophistication and the type of content is less important than the times people create. So the amount of time you spend creating, the amount of things that you do create, is more important to your understanding and desire for broadband. ”

      Maybe a nice tie-in with all of our media-creating workshops!

      • Sylvia 9:07 pm on August 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, I agree, this would make a good workshop.

  • Sylvia Moore 2:26 pm on July 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alliance Hollywood, , , , , conservative, , Crooks and Liars, David Neiwert, , , LA Progressive, left, liberal, , , , , President Obama, , , web   

    Rage Against the Right: Blogger John Amato Speaks About Politics & Media 

    John Amato is frustrated about the state of American politics. But he hasn’t let that frustration bring him down. Instead, for the last decade, Amato has been wielding his sword against the American right-wing machine from his computer.

    The founder of Crooks & Liars, one of the most influential left-leaning blogs in the country, recounted his journey from working musician to liberal commentator to a group of about 40 people at a private event in Beverly Hills on July 16. Amato shared how he and co-author David Neiwert researched their new book, Over the Cliff: How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane. The event was hosted by LA Media Reform, Alliance Hollywood and the LA Progressive. Amato signed books after his talk.

    Amato, a Brooklyn native, said he used to have little interest in politics, and was registered as an independent until 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court sided with George W. Bush in his lawsuit against Al Gore, essentially handing Bush the presidency. Horrified by that decision, Amato decided to get politically active. He started Crooks & Liars in 2004, focusing on providing an alternative news source of, by and for citizens. The blog now has several writers, and showcases video and extensive commentary on the hot political issues of the day. Amato has won several Weblog Awards, including Best Video Blogger in 2006 and Best Weblog About Politics in 2008.

    Much of Amato’s talk focused on the aftermath of President Obama’s election in 2008, Republican losses in Congress, and criticism of the corporate mainstream media. He said he is “dumbstruck by what passes for journalism these days,” and that the traditional media – newspapers, television, radio – is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Amato expressed particular outrage at 24-hour cable news, wondering why cable devotes so little time reporting on actual legislation. Fortunately, the blogosphere has made some headway in leveling the playing field with mainstream media. Amato said if it wasn’t for liberal bloggers, the Democrats wouldn’t have taken back the House in 2006.

    “Through citizen journalism and the blogosphere, we’ve had an impact,” Amato said. “But we have a long way to go.”

    Watching the conservative cable outlet, FOX News, is a daily ritual for Amato, and its content is regularly in Crooks & Liars’ crosshairs. Amato said he worries about the right-wing media’s obsession with race, which has intensified since Obama’s election.

    “The race baiting that has been going on is beyond belief,” Amato said.

    Amato talked about rising right-wing violence in America, mentioning the murder of Dr. George Tiller, by anti-abortion zealots in Kansas, the targeting of law enforcement, and the more than 200 hate crimes committed since Obama became president. Amato said he fears that if Obama wins re-election, the violence will get worse. He said the public can fight back against hate speech in the media by forming local media reform groups, and by going after advertisers.

    “Those are the most powerful tools that we have,” said Amato. “Hold pundits and politicians accountable for their words.”

    For photos of the event, click here.

     
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