We're into the third month of 2021 and OC Inc. is grateful for all the opportunities we have to improve access, affordability and accountability in the media.
But one thing is really holding us back -- we're short one person at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
As you probably know, the United Church of Christ's media justice ministry has been knocking on doors (or these days connecting via zoom and conference call) at the Federal Communications Commission since the 1960s. In the leadup to a new presidential administration, we collaborated with our civil rights colleagues to develop an agenda for social justice in communications policy that just can't wait.
Please sign our petition. We partnered with a huge coalition of allies fighting for net neutrality to ask President Biden to act immediately over at Battle for the Net.
But our plans were blocked because just before the end of last year, the Senate pushed through a one-sided partisan vote to confirm only one FCC commissioner instead of the usual practice of a bi-partisan pair of commissioners, which means even though the Biden Administration is in office, we're left with only four FCC commissioners and a deadlocked FCC on important votes. The current Acting Chair must obtain three votes for the FCC to act and one of the Commissioner seats is empty. Unfortunately, when our country does not yet have agreement on racial justice and so many other issues, that third vote can be hard to find.
During the pandemic, urgent action is needed at the FCC: millions of people are without reliable Internet access in the midst of a pandemic,1 kids are sitting outside Taco Bell to do their homework,2 and and not having internet act as a barrier for people of color receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.3 Incarcerated people are locked down and paying exorbitant prices for calls.4 People are using the internet without net neutrality protections, facing data caps and slow-downs.5
Last week, President Biden just promised the country a new web site by May 1 that will allow all people in the U.S. to easily find a COVID-19 vaccine—who will be able to use it? Everyone? Or will people living in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color be left behind?
We can't afford to wait until summer for the FCC to be up and running. We need your help to send this message right away.
Please join us in urging Biden Administration to nominate a fifth commissioner who will stand up for low-income people, diversity in media, affordable broadband and phone rates for everyone and who will reinstate net neutrality protections.
Cheryl and the UCC media justice team
- Health care and education suffer when there’s no internet access
- Salinas students seen using Taco Bell for internet access
- No internet, no vaccine
- Locked up during COVID-19: Costly phone calls strain families
- Comcast will postpone new data fees for Northeast internet customers