Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Media Reform

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[NOTE FROM MARNIE: This section was originally in Social Justice chapter of the 2004 platform. This proposal moves it to the Democracy Chapter.]



Section title: Free speech and media reform

Section subtitle: Media reform for a stronger democracy

Our Position: Independent, critical media are essential to an informed and healthy democracy. Citizens must have ready access to information to make responsible, informed choices as voters and to carry out their other duties of citizenship.

The United States' original communications policy was the 1st Amendment. Freedom of the press was guaranteed in the Constitution because an exchange of ideas and an unfettered debate were considered essential components of a democratic society. Today, however, government policy is designed less to enhance public deliberation than to boost the profitability of media corporations. Our media laws and rules promote the formation of huge media conglomerates and discourage new, competing voices. As a result, mainstream media is increasingly cozy with the economic and political elites whom they should be investigating. Mergers in the news industry have accelerated, further limiting the spectrum of viewpoints that have access to mass media. With U.S. media outlets overwhelmingly owned by for-profit conglomerates and supported by corporate advertisers, investigative journalism is in an alarming decline.

In response, Greens want to strengthen citizens' influence over the broadcast media, break up the dominant media conglomerates and boost the number of community and non-profit news outlets, all to fortify the media's crucial watchdog function and to help create a more diverse and lively exchange of ideas in America.

Since governments almost always have an interest in controlling the free flow of information, we must constantly guard against official censorship. In our society, however, large corporations are a far more common source of censorship than governments. Media outlets kill stories because they undermine corporate interests; advertisers use their financial clout to squelch negative reports; powerful businesses employ the threat of expensive lawsuits to discourage legitimate investigations. The most frequent form of censorship is self-censorship: journalists deciding not to pursue certain stories that they know will be unpopular with the advertisers.

Green Solutions

1. Promote greater public control and oversight of the public airwaves.

2. Enact tough new anti-trust laws for the media, carve up the big media conglomerates, and follow up with vigorous anti-trust enforcement.

3. End commercial broadcasters' free licensed use of the public airwaves. Require market-priced leasing of any commercial use of the electromagnetic spectrum.

4. Reinstate and strengthen the Fairness Doctrine, to require that holders of broadcast licenses present controversial issues of public importance in an equitable and balanced manner.

5. Establish substantial public interest obligations for broadcasters and hold them accountable, and revoke licenses from outlets that fail to satisfy these obligations.

6. Support Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) Access Television to ensure that citizens and community organizations have the opportunity to create and present their own programming on cable television.

7. Expand the role of community radio, by expanding the licensing of new non-commercial low power FM radio stations.

8. Promote greater opportunity for women and minority ownership of media outlets.

9. Provide broadband internet access for all Americans, so that access to information is a right, not a commodity.

10. Ensure net neutrality, so that Internet users can access any web content they choose and use any applications they choose, without restrictions or limitations imposed by their Internet service provider.

11. Ensure free and equal airtime for all ballot-qualified political candidates and parties on radio and television networks and stations.

12. Provide generous public funding for PBS television and National Public Radio to ensure high-quality news and cultural programming with the widest possible range of viewpoints.

13. Prohibit commercial advertising targeted to children under 12 years old, as well as advertising in public places such as schools, parks, and government buildings.

14. Oppose censorship in the arts, media, press and on the Internet.

15. Reform the Federal Communications Commission so that it is responsive and accountable to the public at large, not just to lobbyists and commercial interests.

16. Overhaul the 1996 Telecommunications Act, with a new focus on promoting diversity and true competition, and preventing consolidation.

17. Promote policies to encourage Americans to watch less television, and instead to talk with their families, friends and neighbors, and to engage in myriad other constructive, artistic or healthful pursuits.

18. Reduce mailing costs for non-profit and independent magazines and journals, and eliminate them for those that receive less than 20% of their revenues from advertising.

19. Promote policies to expand investigative reporting on federal, state and local issues.

20. Create a publicly-controlled "Audience Network" empowered to take airtime from commercial television and radio stations, to broadcast a variety of non-commercial cultural, political, entertainment, scien­tific or other high-quality programs.


(This section was originally in Social Justice chapter of the 2004 platform.)

The Green Party seeks to improve the role mass media plays in political and daily life by encouraging the diversification of programming and news coverage, and increasing access to mass media.

Free speech and free press are constitutionally and politically guaranteed rights. Democracy requires a wide variety of opinions and information, which is not currently provided by corporate controlled media outlets. The Green Party calls for the establishment of citizen initiated and controlled radio and television stations. These citizen-managed media networks would be financed by requiring corporations to pay for the right to use our publicly owned air waves. Mechanisms must be established to prevent political manipulation and exploitation of this essential and valuable resource, so that all citizens are adequately informed.

The Green Party supports:

1. Returning ownership and control of the electromagnetic spectrum to the public. We urge the public to reclaim the public airwaves. The privatization of the broadcast airwaves – one of our most important taxpayer assets – has caused serious deformations of our politics and culture.

2. The problem is that private broadcasters control what the public owns. In return for free licenses to use taxpayer property, broadcasters give us a steady stream of increasingly coarse, redundant, superficial programming, and exclusively decide who says what on our public airwaves.

3. Market-priced leasing of any for-profit use of the electromagnetic spectrum.

4. Reasonable restriction on media consolidation, using a public interest standard.

5. Restoring of full public funding of the National Public Broadcasting System to provide in-depth coverage of issues and the widest possible range of viewpoints.

6. Community ownership of broadcast outlets and public oversight of licensing.

7. Free and equal airtime for political candidates on radio and television networks. [See section A.Political Reform in chapter I]

8. Taxing electronic advertising sales to fund democratic media outlets.

9. The repeal of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

10. The prohibition of commercial advertising in public places such as schools, parks, and governmental buildings.

11. Developing community radio, particularly those rule-making petitions before the FCC that allow for a new service of small, locally-owned FM stations.

12. Limiting the concentration of power that has characterized the telecommunications industry. We need a wide span of programming and information, genuine citizen access, diversity of views, respect for local community interests, news, 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.

13. Opposing censorship in the arts, media (including the World Wide Web and Internet), and press. We encourage individual and social responsibility by artists, creative media, writers and all citizens.