Public protest encouraged

Dec 3, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Making it easier for the public to get involved in government decision-making, the watchdog organization Center for Digital Democracy last week announced a grass-roots e-mail campaign that allows consumers to protest Federal Communications Commission efforts to ease broadcast and cable industry ownership rules.
All consumers have to do to participate is to go to the group’s Web site, at www.democraticmedia.org /getinvolved/index.html, then follow a series of simple directions to send form e-mails of protest to the FCC.
“These rules were adopted to ensure that the public would receive a diverse range of viewpoints from the media and not simply the opinions of a handful of media conglomerates,” one of the canned messages says.
Another click of the mouse and a form letter of protest can be sent to President Bush and copied to key congressional leaders.
“I urge you to stand up for the rights of the average citizen,” the message to the president says. “Please tell Michael Powell, the chairman you appointed to head the FCC, to oppose changes in the rules.”
Jeff Chester, the center’s executive director, said the e-mail site can also be accessed through links on the Web sites of other watchdog and civil rights groups, including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
He also said that consumers are free to write original messages of their own. But even if they adhere completely to the group’s canned script, Mr. Chester said that will influence regulatory deliberations.
“This is not like NAB [National Association of Broadcasters] or NCTA [National Cable & Telecommunications Association] front groups paid to file,” Mr. Chester said. “This is an expression of people’s own free will, a value we expect Mr. Powell to appreciate.”
Said an FCC spokesman, “We get e-mail all the time, and yes, e-mails are taken into account.”