US Ruling Threatens Community Media

A US appeals court has thrown out the concept of net neutrality, which had heretofore ensured that different kinds of Internet traffic are given equal access to bandwidth, and had prevented Internet providers from charging different rates to different kinds of traffic.

The US ruling sets a dangerous precedent that could threaten the long-term health of community media, as more and more people acquire information and entertainment on-line.

Click here for the full Wall Street Journal article.

People often ask, "Why do you need community TV channels anymore with the Interent? You've got YouTube."

There are lots of answers to this question:

  • You have to give up your copyright on many services such as YouTube, and they are being more and more commercialized. The community doesn't own or control them.
  • YouTube doesn't aggregate local audiences, and isn't live.
  • YouTube doesn't provide training and media literacy skills and equipment access for people who are not already media-savvy.
  • YouTube doesn't provide meeting places in the community for people to make media together and debate the issues that are important to them. YouTube doesn't facilitate the 'process' of community media, which is as if not more important than making the media content available to share with others afterwards.

The US ruling highlights another problem, however, which is that regardless of the platform of the day by which community media content is distributed, it will always need protection to make sure that it is accessible to everyone in the community. It may be a struggle for access to space on cable and satellite for community content today, but that struggle will just be repeated on new media platforms if Internet providers can privilege their own content and make community media expensive to download or block access completely.

Click here if you would like to sign a petition to oppose the ruling.