CMC is powerfully aware of and so very thankful for the impact donors like you have in supporting community media outreach that raises the voices of our citizens. But it is also as we close out 2018 that we see the biggest attack ever on the media platforms that exist for the benefit of our community. We are coming to you with urgency like never before.
What an incredible year it’s been here at Community Media Center, connecting with new sectors and neighborhoods, deepening relationships with local leadership, and listening to our community. Through your support of WYCE, GRTV, Wealthy Theatre, The Rapidian, and our Nonprofit Services, these programs have provided many wonderful success stories this year and uplifted the voices that reflect the diversity in West Michigan.
Yet, amid many successes and reasons for celebration comes a serious threat to free speech and public access to community media. Due to very recent legislative and policy changes, the voices of our community will soon be muted in exchange for more profits to large corporations.
CMC needs your financial support now more than ever. It is because you are such a critical part of CMC’s successes that we want to tell you about the crisis that will de-fund many community media platforms, including GRTV.
Here’s what’s happening.
The telecoms that charge significant fees for their services no longer want to pay to use the public’s property (called right-of-ways, or ROWs) to make their profits. They want to install their lines and boxes rent-free, shedding their responsibility of providing community access channels in exchange for that privilege.These efforts to gut community access to public media and local control over the public’s right of ways come through state legislation and Federal Communications Commission policy changes – all well- funded by telecoms. (MI Senate Bills 637 & 894, FCC MB Docket No. 05-311).
And it’s not just the community’s access to public television that is jeopardized through this corporate give-away. In a collaborative environment here at CMC, GRTV helps to support Wealthy Theatre and WYCE. The damage from this latest erosion of community media and free speech platforms affects our community’s experiences, access and freedoms.
Hundreds of local nonprofits, businesses and citizens utilize the resources provided by CMC. We make it possible to produce concerts, community forums, educational programming, local artist spotlights, and cultural events. These events engage more than 200,000 members of our community annually. Many of the events, including the WYCE Jammies Music Awards, are free and have become symbolic of our community’s unique spirit.
This work is possible through strategic and diligent placement of finances, making the most use of funds the telecom corporations have been required to pay. We stretch every dollar to maximize the benefit for this community.
Please know that we magnify your financial support in the same way.
CMC has always been a leader in innovative community media and technology. It’s in our DNA.
We will continue evolving to provide access and education for modern and emerging mediums such as podcasts and credible social media tools. We will continue to update WYCE’s radio station technology and programming, increase community-created events at The Wealthy Theater, and remain focused on providing you with the best services available. For nearly 40 years we have been by your side, listening. We are your community soap box, your place to gain and sharpen your media skills, a place where you find your voice and shout it out for the world to hear. Our community’s voice must not be suppressed or we will lose far more than public access to media. We lose the essence of our freedom.
The CMC leadership is coordinating with our community, through our staff, our local leaders, and the board of directors to develop a strategic plan to expand our presence in West Michigan. We are developing new program opportunities to supplement the loss of these funds, and ultimately to create a louder voice and more resilient model. We are innovators and we are relentless in our pursuit to be your resource for your community voice – your ally.
Tune in! Stay connected with us. We are not going anywhere.
We will be posting on our website www.grcmc.org with more information on this issue and how we are evolving through this challenging situation.
Please consider a generous gift to CMC as we go through this transformative time in our work to amplify the voices of our community. And if we could be so bold, we ask that you think about support for CMC that is ongoing – possibly monthly contributions or an amount that would sponsor a multi-year growth of Community Media Center.
We are at a crossroads for this community’s access to media, and financial support from donors like you is more critical than ever.
Be a part of the transformation!
Linda Gellasch, Executive Director
And the CMC Board of Directors
From the Alliance for Community Media, regarding Federal Communications Commission changes for Public, Education and Government cable channels:
Over 3,400 comments against the FCC.
That's what we saw from local businesses, faith groups, educators, school districts, public safety officials, state governments, local governments, elected officials at every level, and PEG channels across the US in the FCC's rulemaking on cable franchising (Docket 05-311) as Friday's reply comment deadline passed. You can sample some of the results on their website.
ACM was one of several local government coalitions that put forward legal arguments that the FCC is overstepping its authority when it tries to redefine franchise fees to include so-called "in-kind" support from cable systems (ACM's reply comments). Your comments helped bolster our arguments about the worth of our work. Thank you!
Details on the State Legislation regarding communications company public land use:
SB 0637 of 2017 (PA 0365 of 2018)
Communications; telecommunications; permits, fees, right-of-way use, and other regulation of wireless service providers; standardize. Creates new act.
Last Action: 12/13/2018 ASSIGNED PA 0365'18 WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT
SB 0894 of 2018 (PA 0366 of 2018)
Land use; zoning and growth management; regulation of wireless communications infrastructure; make subject to wireless communications infrastructure deployment act. Amends sec. 205 of 2006 PA 110 (MCL 125.3205) & adds sec. 515.
Last Action: 12/13/2018 ASSIGNED PA 0366'18 WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT