Posts by: Cheryl
Social Justice Radio Webinar May 22, 2013Submitted by Cheryl Fri May 10 2013 15:20:00 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Social justice is often about working with allies, spreading information, and bearing witness to stories that no one else hears. People of faith are known for our involvement in our communities--as a powerful force for justice, compassion and the common good. And yet, all too often, the progressive faith community is not reflected in the media.
Thanks to a recent legislative victory, nonprofits, schools, churches, and labor unions will soon have a one-time chance to apply for thousands of new FM community radio licenses nationwide. The deadline to apply for these free low-power FM radio licenses is October 2013. We have much to do before then—both to assist community groups that are already working to obtain radio licenses and to develop faith-oriented radio stations ourselves.
To learn more, please join our webinar on
May 22nd, 2013, at 4 pm eastern time.
Join this one-hour webinar co-sponsored by the Office of Communication, Inc., the United Church of Christ’s media justice ministry, Faith in Public Life, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Prometheus Radio project. Learn more about this rare opportunity to diversify our airwaves.
The event will feature:
Statement in response to Anticipated FCC Chair AnnouncementSubmitted by Cheryl Wed May 01 2013 08:59:37 GMT-0400 (EDT)
In response to the widely-reported impending announcement of Tom Wheeler as nominee to lead the Federal Communications Commission and Mignon Clyburn to lead the agency until Mr. Wheeler is confirmed, the United Church of Christ's media justice ministry made the following statement:
"I congratulate Chairman Clyburn on her historic appointment as the first woman chair of the Federal Communications Commission. She is the ideal person to safeguard the interests of the public at this time of transition," said Earl Williams, Chair of the United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc.
Cheryl Leanza, UCC OC Inc.'s policy advisor stated, "We are eager for Mr. Wheeler to rapidly learn more about civil rights and media justice very early in his tenure. We will be looking carefully at his key staff appointments with the expectation that he will select people with an in-depth understanding of the information needs of all communities to complement Mr. Wheeler's private sector resume."
We expect to work closely with Mr. Wheeler on the priorities of the public interest and civil rights communities, including diverse ownership of media and technology companies, universal and affordable high speed broadband Internet access, open Internet, and a rapid end to predatory prison phone rates.
Lifeline: Connecting People Now and in the FutureSubmitted by Cheryl Thu Apr 25 2013 23:26:12 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Today members of the House of Representatives held a hearing to consider the Federal Communications Commission's Lifeline program, which provides a financial subsidy to low-income people to help them afford telephone service. The United Church of Christ's media justice ministry, OC Inc., was pleased to collaborate with its civil rights and other allies in supporting this program, including the excellent testimony by UCC OC Inc.'s close ally, the National Hispanic Media Coalition.
Since 1934, the United States has recognized the importance of ensuring that all people can communicate with each other through a policy of "universal service." For almost 30 years, federal communications policy has set funds aside to ensure that people would be connected to the telephone network even if their financial circumstances or remote location might otherwise prevent them from doing so. And in 1996, universal service was expanded by Congress to also assist schools and libraries and rural health care providers.
The low-income Lifeline program has recently come under attack, not for the important work that it does, but because a few bad actors have taken advantage of a program targeting the lowest income Americans and used it for their own gain. The attacks are all more upsetting because this program is not in need of curtailment -- rather it is in need of updating so that it can support the use of new technologies, such as high speed broadband Internet, rather than simple voice telephone service.
While voice phone service is a minimum service necessary for everything from reaching 9-1-1 to getting a job, the truth is that Americans who can afford it are rapidly moving to broadband Internet for most of their communications needs. For example, the Wall Street Journal recently ran a story describing high school students who routinely study and do their homework at McDonald's, which offers Internet access, because those students' families cannot afford to subscribe at home. Unfortunately, the advent of high speed broadband is making the "digital divide" worse, as the least connected fall farther behind.
Fortunately, Rep. Doris Matsui, joined by Rep. Henry Waxman and Rep. Anna Eshoo, have introduced a bill that would ensure the Lifeline program is not only well-run, but that it aids the people who most need it. The proposed Broadband Adoption Act would go a long way toward ensuring that our nation remains competitive and fair. Broadband Internet important to ensure that people who seek to find a way out of poverty have the means to do so--through education, job searches, and access to benefits programs which offer support in a time of need. Universal access to broadband Internet is not only important to the individuals who need it, but also to our whole country--we cannot succeed in the world economy if we fail to utilizing the skills and talents of a significant proportion of our people.
Since 1997, the United Church of Christ has formally recognized we risk becoming a society of "information rich" and "information poor" -- with dramatic consequences for exacerbating inequities that already exist in our midst. Communications is a human right -- a tool that connects us to our communities, helps to disclose injustice, and facilitate innumerable aspects of modern life.
As such, we wholeheartedly express our support for the Lifeline program as it stands now, and for legislative proposals to ensure that it keeps pace with technological change by supporting high speed broadband Internet.
UCC OC Inc. and allies move to block expansion of Securus predatory phone ratesSubmitted by Cheryl Fri Apr 12 2013 15:07:03 GMT-0400 (EDT)
The United Church of Christ, OC Inc. was pleased to join with Public Knowledge, Free Press and Rainbow/PUSH to block the purchase of the telephone company Securus Technologies, Inc. by the Hedge Fund ABRY Partners. Securus provides phone services to prisons, and its business model relies on charging predatory rates to the families of prisoners, who have no choice but to pay high prices or forgo speaking to their loved ones. The groups jointly filed a petition at the Federal Communications Commission last night in response to a filing by Securus requesting FCC permission to complete the proposed transaction. Public Knowledge, Free Press, UCC OC Inc. and Rainbow/PUSH released a joint statement. Cheryl Leanza, policy advisor for UCC OC Inc., said, “Predatory prison phone rates are a moral issue for the faith community—these types of businesses should be stopped, not allowed to expand. Companies that invest in these predatory businesses risk endangering their public reputation.”
To learn more about predatory prison phone rates and UCC OC Inc.’s efforts to eliminate them, go to www.uccmediajustice.org/prisonphones
UCC OC Inc. to Honor Three Media Justice AdvocatesSubmitted by Cheryl Thu Apr 11 2013 05:42:18 GMT-0400 (EDT)
For immediate release
April 11, 2013
31st ANNUAL EVERETT C. PARKER LECTURE TO HONOR THREE MEDIA JUSTICE ADVOCATES
The United Church of Christ’s historic media justice ministry, the Office of Communication, Inc., today announced the three media justice advocates who will be recognized this fall at the 31st Annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture and Awards Ceremony:
- The 2013 Parker Lecture will be delivered by Hilary O. Shelton, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Policy Director NAACP Washington Bureau.
- Albert H. Kramer, founder of the Citizens Communications Center, will receive the Everett C. Parker Award, recognizing an individual whose work embodies the principles and values of the public interest in telecommunications.
- Malkia Amala Cyril, founder and executive director of the Center for Media Justice, will receive the Donald H. McGannon Award, given in recognition of special contributions in advancing the roles of women and persons of color in the media and in the media reform movement.
The 2013 Parker Lecture and Breakfast will be held at 8 a.m. on Wednesday October 1 at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 945 G Street NW, Washington, DC.
Hilary O. Shelton brings a depth of experience and insight that should continue the Parker Lecture’s long history of inspirational and thought-provoking speakers. In his current position, Shelton is responsible for advancing the federal policy agenda of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. He has been an outspoken advocate for diversity in the media and importance of communications policy with respect to vindicating civil rights. He has been instrumental in the passage of such key pieces of legislation as The Civil Rights Act of 1991, The Civil Rights Restoration Act, The Violence Against Women Act, The Hate Crimes Statistics Act, The Native American Free Exercise of Religion Act, The National Voter Registration Act, The National Assault Weapons Ban, Reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act and the Help America Vote Act.
Prior to joining the NAACP, he served with The College Fund/UNCF, also known as The United Negro College Fund, and the United Methodist Church’s social justice advocacy agency, The General Board of Church & Society. He is a member of People’s Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington.
Albert H. Kramer has been a tireless advocate for the public interest in telecommunications since he left a large law firm in 1969 to found the Citizens’ Communications Center, playing a major role in OC Inc.’s own historic work during that era. The Media Access Project was “incubated” at the center during Kramer’s tenure, and he went on to spend 20 years on MAP’s board of directors, 15 of them as chairman. He served as director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection during the Carter administration, one of the agency’s most activist periods. During this time, the agency addressed a wide range of consumer issues, including used car sales, truth-in-lending laws, fair credit regulations, abusive funeral home practices and, for the first time, unfair advertising targeted at children. He also served as the founding chairperson of the Communications Consortium Media Center, and served there as a board member for more than 20 years.
As a lawyer once again engaged in private practice, Kramer was a leader in firmly establishing the rights of private users and competitors to connect to what was then the monopoly telephone network and ensuring the right to nondiscriminatory treatment. In the wake of the divestiture of AT&T, his work on behalf of equipment manufacturers and other technology companies helped lead to an explosion of innovation on the edge of the network. He has continued to play key roles in advocating for the public interest in proceedings before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and during the months leading up to the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
For the past 15 years, Malkia Amala Cyril has worked to increase the diversity and accountability of the media reform movement itself, and to help grass-roots social justice leaders, including women, young people and persons of color, learn the skills they needed to be effective advocates. In 2001, she founded the Youth Media Council in Oakland, California, demonstrating the close connections between the political activism of young people and the media. While there, she authored a number of important works, including an analysis of newspaper coverage of juvenile justice in California and assessments of local television and radio stations monitored by young people.
Out of that work, Cyril went on in 2008 to found the Center for Media Justice (CMJ), a national organization committed to creating media and cultural conditions to strengthen the movements for racial justice, economic equity and human rights. Cyril later co-founded the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net), which brings together more than 120 affiliated organizations nationwide to advance a shared agenda for media justice. Through her leadership, CMJ has helped to equip the next generation of media reform activists through training, field organizing and grassroots education and advocacy. The daughter of activists who instilled a deep appreciation for culture, movement-building and social justice, Cyril is also an accomplished creative writer, her work has been published in In the Tradition: An Anthology of Young Black Writers, Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poet’s Café, and Afrekete: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Writing.
The Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture was created in 1982 to recognize the Rev. Dr. Everett C. Parker, founder of OC Inc., and his pioneering work as an advocate for the public's rights in broadcasting. The event is the only lecture in the country to examine telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective. Past speakers have included network presidents, Congressional leaders, FCC chairs and commissioners, as well as academics, cable and telephone executives and journalists. For ticket information visit www.uccmediajustice.org/parker2013.
The Cleveland-based United Church of Christ, a Protestant denomination with some 5,700 local congregations, recognizes the unique power of the media to shape public understanding and thus society as a whole. For this reason, the UCC’s OC, Inc. works to create just and equitable media structures that give a meaningful voice to diverse peoples, cultures and ideas. Established in 1959, OC Inc. ultimately established the right of all citizens to participate in FCC proceedings as part of its efforts to ensure a television broadcaster in Jackson, MS, served its African-American viewers during the height of the civil rights movement.
Hilary O. Shelton
Albert H. Kramer
Malkia Amala Cyril
United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc.
Cheryl A. Leanza, media contact
More Action on Predatory Prison Phone RatesSubmitted by Cheryl Thu Mar 28 2013 18:31:33 GMT-0400 (EDT)
As we noted early this year, the Federal Communications Commission heeded public pressure, and issued a proposal to reform predatory prison phone rates. Early this week was the official beginning of the public comment period. UCC OC Inc. and its allies filed at the FCC to oppose these unconscionable rates.
“Predatory prison phone rates are a moral issue,” said Earl Williams, chairs the board of the United Church of Christ Office of Communication, Inc. “We strongly urge the FCC to take rapid steps to lower the price of long-distance rates that can prevent children from calling their fathers, grandmothers from calling their grandsons and pastors from calling their congregants.”
UCC OC Inc. is collecting endorsements from religious organizations and clergy to oppose the practice, and will be organizing for a Father's Day action, reprising last year's successful effort. Please add your name or organizational endorsement. This letter will be filed next month at the FCC.
Earlier this year, Rev. Sala Nolan-Gonzales testified at Rainbow/PUSH's hearing on the topic . She spoke from her long experience visiting prisons every day, talking about the small amount of money prisoners receive for the work they perform while incarcerated. In addition, Rev. Nolan-Gonzales described the long-standing UCC effort in solidarity with Hawaiian men who are in federal prison at Saguaro, in Arizona, removed from their families and spiritual advisors by more than 4,000 miles. She closed her moving statement as follows:
95% of prisoners return to community. As community members, it is in our best interest to help them through this process so they return to us with some semblance of family and personal connections. If we cannot help them, at the very least, we should do no more harm. Current phone charges are destructive and cruel. They need to be regulated.
UCC OC Inc. Statement on the Departure of Chairman GenachowskiSubmitted by Cheryl Fri Mar 22 2013 14:58:28 GMT-0400 (EDT)
The statement below can be attributed to Earl Williams, chair, and Cheryl A. Leanza, policy advisor, United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc.:
Chairman Genachowski leaves behind him a string of accomplishments and a long to-do list for his successor. We commend his early work to bring a comprehensive and long-overdue focus on bringing high-speed broadband Internet to all people, including low-income and underserved populations. In contrast, we've been disappointed on the lack of focus on issues important to us and to the civil rights community. While Internet access is important, it cannot address structural impediments to a diverse and accountable media. It does not bring down the exorbitant rates that families pay to reach their loved ones in prison. And as the FCC focuses now on persuading television stations to give up their spectrum so it can be used for new mobile devices, it appears that television ownership by women and people of color are suffering further decimation in the process.
We urge the Administration to appoint a new Chair, and Acting Chair, who understands personally the broad diversity of this country and can quickly get to work on these issues.
The United Church of Christ is a faith community rooted in justice. It established the Office of Communication, Inc. in 1959 as its ministry working to replace the media we have with the media we need to create a just society. Learn more about UCC OC Inc. at www.uccmediajustice.org.
The Cleveland-based United Church of Christ has 5,700 local congregations across the United States. It was formed by the 1957 union of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church.
Rev. Dr. Everett C. Parker, Father of the Media Reform Movement, Reaches 100 YearsSubmitted by Cheryl Thu Jan 17 2013 12:04:06 GMT-0500 (EST)
Rev. Dr. Everett C. Parker, Father of the Media Reform Movement, Reaches 100 Years
Epic battles over the limits on the number of TV or radio stations one company can own…the fight for open Internet …the biggest fine in FCC history …the current fight against predatory prison phone rates…rules promoting transparency for political advertising…public participation in merger reviews, like AT&T’s attempted purchase of T-Mobile.
What do all of these events and decisions have in common? None of them would have been possible without the efforts of a man who turns 100 this week—Rev. Dr. Everett C. Parker, founder of the media reform movement and founder of OC Inc. Thanks to Parker’s efforts, members of the public can make their voices heard at the Federal Communications Commission, whether that means weighing in on the importance of media in our democracy or making sure people in prison are not exploited by telephone company gouging.
But that was not always the case. Back in 1959, Everett Parker was serving as communications director of the newly formed United Church of Christ when the Revs. Martin Luther King Jr. and Andrew Young asked the denomination for its support in the early days of the civil rights movement. King complained that southern television stations were editing the nightly news shows to remove all coverage of the civil rights movement, and asked the denomination to help.
With support from the national church, Parker traveled throughout the South, watched TV, recruited monitors and eventually challenged the broadcast license of WLBT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi. At first the FCC refused to acknowledge that individuals could challenge the awarding of broadcast licenses, but Parker and his supporters continued to pursue their fight. In 1966, a federal court agreed that individuals had standing before the FCC and in 1969, the court ordered the FCC to strip WLBT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi, of its license. In 1980, the license was awarded to a minority-controlled group, the first time African Americans were put in charge of a powerful VHF station.
Parker turns 100 years old today. The work that the United Church of Christ’s Office of Communication, Inc. (OC Inc.) started under his leadership more than 50 years ago continues to be carried out, even as technologies evolve and the media landscape changes. OC Inc. and the wider United Church of Christ continue to advocate for policies to promote diverse media voices and to protect the access of underserved people to telephone and Internet services. Parker’s legacy is also celebrated at the annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture, which recognizes persons who have pursued the ideals that characterized his work.
Read the United Church of Christ's tribute and former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps's tribute honoring Dr. Parker's centennial. He is featured in the Nation today. Read more about Dr. Parker and the organization he founded.
A Step Closer to Just Prison Phone RatesSubmitted by Cheryl Fri Dec 28 2012 15:02:00 GMT-0500 (EST)
Today, the Federal Communications Commission released today the long-awaited proposal to eliminate unjust long-distance prison phone rates.
Cheryl Leanza, UCC OC Inc.'s policy advisor said, "By releasing this proposal, the FCC has started its journey to end the immoral system of gouging families of prisoners." She added, "Next, family members and advocates around the country must make their voices heard loud and clear in Washington--and we hope that the final rule must be adopted with great speed. We will likely see the companies and prison systems which benefit from this rule begin to fight back. All people of faith must stand firm so that we can prevail."
Media Justice ministry celebrates holidays by continuing campaign for fairnessSubmitted by Cheryl Wed Dec 26 2012 16:52:17 GMT-0500 (EST)
UCC OC Inc. celebrated the day after Christmas by coordinating a filing with its civil rights and civil liberties allies to continue our joint campaign to increase the representation of women and people of color as media owners. We filed jointly the day after Christmas at the Federal Communications Commission to demand that the FCC prioritize diversity in ownership over media consolidation. This filing builds on our prior efforts this fall. UCC OC Inc. also submitted a detailed filing prepared by the Institute of Public Representation at Georgetown Law Center analyzing the changes in diverse media ownership over time and emphasizing the need to hold the line against consolidation.