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The Fate of Net Neutrality Hinges on the House

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A broad-based coalition of local and national groups is urging the public to turn out for the Federal Communications Commission's third official hearing on sweeping changes to the nation's ownership rules.

The FCC public hearing will take place:

Friday, Feb. 23
Hearing Starts at 9 a.m. -- Public Testimony until 2:30 p.m.
Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts
Sunoco Performance Theater
222 Market Street
Harrisburg, Pa.


At 8:30 a.m., public interest groups and local unions will hold a press conference on the first floor of the hearing site at Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts.

All five FCC Commissioners are expected to attend the hearing. The event will feature an "open microphone" session for the public to offer testimony on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit http://www.stopbigmedia.com/=harrisburg

The following people are available to comment on the event:

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., Founder, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition
"Minority participation in America media today is grim. Nationally, people of color make up 33 percent of the U.S. population, but own only 3.3 percent of all television stations. While ownership by people of color and women has increased in other industries, the percentage in the broadcast industry has worsened. In short, too few, own too much, at the expense of too many."

Iván Román, Executive Director, National Association of Hispanic Journalists
"It is critical that members of the Latino community and communities of color attend this hearing to let the FCC know the harm further media consolidation will have on our communities. As the nation becomes more diverse, we have to increase opportunities for people of color to become station owners, not reduce them."

Blondell Reynolds-Brown, Philadelphia City Council
"I am pleased that the FCC has decided to hold fair and open hearings on their ownership plans and to discuss the importance of media diversity to the public interest. It is astounding to comprehend how Blacks and African-Americans are 13 percent of the population but own 1.3 percent of TV stations. Women currently are 51 percent of the population holding only 4.97 percent of TV stations. As a small business advocate, it is vital that Philadelphia become a premiere city for minorities and women seeking to engage themselves not only in the field of business, but in all walks of life. I welcome the hearings and offer my elected status to assist in this movement of leveling the playing field."

Linda Foley, President, The Newspaper Guild-CWA
"Pennsylvania is a state whose citizens live both in large cities and small, rural towns. It's critical that Pennsylvanians have access to a variety of media outlets that reflect the very local nature of their diverse communities. The Guild represents workers at large and small newspapers throughout the state. Further media consolidation would mean significant job losses as well as less local news coverage throughout Pennsylvania."

Rev. Nathaniel Gadsden, WHP-TV 21 and 1440 AM
"Local media works best when it provides information and stories about local people, places and things of interest to the people it serves, and when it reflects the needs of the majority and minority people in the community. We need to protect local media, because it provides a tremendous boost to community cohesion when the media responds to all aspects of the community, regarding race, culture, economic background, gender and religious differences."

Cody Anderson, President, WURD-AM 900
"Increase the monopoly? I wish there was a way to rescind the eight-station limit. I have witnessed first hand the devastating affects of the changes in Philadelphia. No news, no community service, limited employment options, thoughtless contests. Please."

Jim Haigh, Mid-Atlantic Community Papers Association
"Our nation's airwaves are a public trust. Maintaining a license for broadcast spectrum is a privilege, not a right. Community interests take precedent over pure profit. Monopolistic media concentration will further transform our airwaves from a vital public resource into an exclusive tool for a handful of corporations. This hammer will smash competition and muzzle local voices."

Beth McConnell, Director, PennPIRG Education Fund
"Big media companies have plenty of opportunities to make their views known in Washington. This hearing is the chance for Pennsylvanians to be heard on the dangers of media consolidation. We're grateful that the FCC chose to visit Central Pennsylvania, and encourage citizens from all parts of the Commonwealth to participate in this important hearing."

Barry Kauffman, President, Common Cause PA
"If Pennsylvanians lose access to views and news, media moguls may grow richer, but our democracy will be poorer. America's democracy works best when citizens have access to a wide diversity of views and plenty of local news. These are two of our nation's most important media policy goals."

Alex J. Minishak, Staff Representative, Communications Workers of America
"We need strong protections against further media consolidation, which would do serious harm to the free flow of ideas that is so essential to civic participation in our democracy."

Inja Coates, Executive Director, Media Tank
"We're talking about who controls the public's airwaves and other important sources for public information. Last time the FCC considered these rules, very few knew it was going on until the last minute. Unfortunately, we live in a time when our public officials seem determined to discourage civic participation, which demonstrates to the public that those in power do not care about democracy. We are doing what we can to get the word out and at least let people know that these important rules are being considered."

Chris Rabb, Founder/Chief Evangelist, Afro-Netizen
"Continued concentration of media ownership will further disenfranchise under-represented constituencies, in particular people of color whose perspectives and collective priorities -- locally and nationally -- will be marginalized all the more. As long as the already uneven playing field will be tipped that much more in favor of corporate interests over the equitable broadening of diverse economic stakeholders, this nation will not benefit from the media democracy and justice we all deserve irrespective of ethnicity or ideology."

Lauri Lebo, Writer and Reporter
"At a time of fantastic and rapid changes in the presentation of news, information is still, for the most part, gathered by traditional method - knowing your sources, your community and your subject better than anyone else. It still means old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism. But media consolidation spells cuts in resources, which threatens that depth and breadth of knowledge and does a disservice to democracy."

Dave Johnston, Local Organizer
"The public media is a crucial element of democracy, and the FCC is a primary guardian of our freedom of speech. I'm working with political prisoners who are eligible for parole this year. For decades, the media has only told one side of their story. When corporations own and control the exchange of ideas and thoughts, all we communicate is the corporate agenda. We need the media to be accountable to everyone in Pennsylvania."

Hannah Sassaman, Prometheus Radio Project
"With Clear Channel and Cumulus dominating our airwaves, public affairs programmers and local musicians are losing ground. Instead of fewer owners in Pennsylvania, radio station organizers from Cambridge Springs to Chambersburg are demanding accountable media, more low power FM, and true access to our airwaves from the FCC."

Amanda Ballantyne, Free Press
"This hearing is a long overdue opportunity for the public to weigh in on the crucial decisions that shape our media. Before letting giant media corporations swallow up more local outlets, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and the other commissioners need to hear how these Big Media firms are serving -- or failing to serve -- local communities in Pennsylvania."

Joel Kelsey, Consumers Union
"When people want to know what happened at the latest City Council meeting or when the next school board meeting is, they turn to their local television stations and newspapers. These are by far the most dominant sources of local news and information. By lifting the ban on cross-ownership of television stations and major daily newspapers, the FCC would be allowing the two most competitive sources of local news to merge. Weakening ownership caps undermines any remaining benefits of local competition, limits consumer choice and will make it much harder for localism and diversity to thrive in American media."

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