Mass Media and Free Speech

Access to information has profound consequences to our democracy. Mass media need to be accessible to the public as a means of both transmitting and receiving information.

The mass media, including print and broadcast media, are being concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer corporations. They screen out information that does not fit into the "norm" and thus the media become a means of maintaining the status quo. The media have become a major vehicle for advertising and promoting corporate messages.
An informed electorate is critical to good government. Our legal right to criticize government is essential to the effective working of democracy. The U.S. Bill of Rights sets forth the rights and freedoms that cannot be denied or abridged government. The scope of the First Amendment is extensive and prohibits any law which would abridge the freedom of speech, or of the press. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for determining and advocating telecommunications policies that ensure the First Amendment rights.
The privatization of the broadcast airwaves, one of our most important taxpayer assets, has caused serious deformations of our politics and culture. The private broadcasters control what the public owns; and in return for free licenses to use taxpayer property, broadcasters give us a steady stream of coarse, redundant, superficial programming and almost exclusively decide who says what on our public airwaves. They have refused to air television and radio advertisements for progressive causes, even if those representing these causes were willing to pay going rates.
News coverage of political campaigns has diminished in recent elections, making it less likely that "minority" parties and points of view will be mentioned at all, much less covered in depth. This allows only those with the most money and / or influence to easily retain or gain power, thus diminishing the power of the electorate.
We are pleased that the Pacifica radio network is once again controlled by progressive community representatives and is returning to its historic role as a voice for peace and justice. We look forward to the democratization of the network, including election of all the Local Advisory Boards based on the KPFA model and the selection of a controlling majority of Pacifica national board members by the local communities
The Green Party of California supports:
Openness in government, not secrecy, and the Freedom of Information Act as a way of guaranteeing access to government decision-making.
The public reclaiming the public airwaves.
Community radio, allowing for a new service of small, locally-owned FM stations, including re-legalizing "pirate stations."
Demands that the concentration of power in the telecommunications industry be limited.
Wide span of programming and information, genuine citizen access, diversity of views, respect for local community interests, public affairs and quality children's programming. The FCC should closely monitor applications for license renewals to the public airwaves to ensure that these public interest criteria are met.
Requirements that new and existing technologies provide outlets for scientific and cultural expression and enhance the electoral process. The "affordable access" and "universal access" provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 should be interpreted by the FCC as a clear mandate for the telecommunications industry to make advanced communications systems affordable and equitably available to all American schools and libraries. Also, providing such systems should be free of corporate influence.
More extensive news coverage of elections, including more debates, and coverage of ALL candidates, whether they are from so-called "major" parties or smaller parties. A frequency should be made available for a TV channel that is all government (elections, candidates, issues, etc.) paid for by fees collected from the use of the airwaves. [see
Electoral and Campaign Finance Reform plank concerning free media]
Public broadcasting, including secure funding and freedom to control its content.
California's so-called "shield" law that protects news reporters and also support an expansion of the shield to protect the public's right to know and encourage news gathering organizations to provide information knowing that the law will protect them from prosecution or harassment.
Demands that everyone has a right to access of the various media for the free expression of their viewpoints. Censorship of op-eds, opinion pieces, advertisements and other such messages by those who own the media is inappropriate.
The establishment of cooperative public newspapers and magazines whose purpose is to inform their readership.
Public schools should add media literacy to the curriculum.