Mario Murillo, WBAI, New York, also works withCauca radio collectives in Colombia: tension between accepting public interest stations and seeing them as co-opt
- Official low-power plus pirate stations
- Training centers in Internet, video, radio for indigenous activists
- 19 indigenous stations, 7 of them in Cauca (one of them a WBAI sister station, with feeds back and forth)
They transmit and report on events as they experience it; mainstream media completely distort coverage, e.g., portrayed as violent when the military attacked.
Radiocicleta, bicycles with transmitters sending live feeds form demonstrations. 4 radiocicleta riders were detained during one coverage attempt. They wanted to report on Oaxaca, but didn’t have the resources. So WBAI got the hookup for them, and they were interviewing each other.
Myoung-Joon Kim, Media Maven of Korea
20 year media activist, now working at a media center called Mediact. Half institution, half organization. Gets funds form the government—film council. The film council was a result of the 80s democratic movement. It’s not very progressive, but it responds to the demands of the social movements. We agreed that they supply the funding, but control is a board of film and video producers.
Our movement started in the 80s, during the dictatorship We felt we need other media to reflect the reality. E.g., there’s a movement to change the mainstream media, which started as pubic broadcasting. TV owners pay $30 per year tot sustain public broadcasting. Some citizens organized not to pay the fee, and that was the beginning of the citizens movement, which mostly focused on media monitoring. Another part came from the unions. Starting in 1987, the mass movement started to mobilize against the dictatorship. They demanded not only improved working conditions but fair coverage of the struggle. They organized different unions in the media industry. And independent filmmakers.
In the 90s, a new generation of the movement, closely related to the Internet. Ordinary people have no problem of access to broadband.
Two different kinds of activism: policy issues, e.g., privacy, censorship, intellectual property; we’re kind of a museum of Internet issues. At the same time, the Internet is an open medium, so there are a new generation who produce the content to support the social movement.
Although we got some success, we did get more democracy, but still, people are struggling. We have so high a level of poverty now, and the working conditions are worse. And based on the US military strategy, we have a problem (perception) as a threat. Now we have the issue of irregular workers. In the 80s, most workers are regular. Now more than half are part-time. And the president, a former human rights lawyer, is pushing the free trade agreement. And the US military bases are being extended. Yet we have more democracy but fewer rights. We see the old and new right wings fighting with each other.
Now we are seeking a new framework for our movement, new strategies and activities.
So I some ways the effort to develop indy media is the same, but at the same time, we want to intervene in the mainstream media content creation process.
We have the responsibility to do several things at the same time: build the skills, bring in the analysis (paraphrasing), different infrastructure and education system.
Public radio is guaranteed public access, and cable, and satellite. 24-hour channel on satellite with public, open, and outreach access. Films of WTO protest were made possible by our training, and were aired, 30-minutes on national public broadcasting. One progressive union as three full-time staff doing video. They have a contract with the company to air a broadcast at lunch time. Company fought it but it did go forward and the company did not sue because there were no lies in it.
Now we have a biweekly series about disabled people and workers, and about media education.
For two years, we lobbied to have this a must-carry channel, and finally we got it, and it’s a national channel this year.
But All My News is now considered mainstream by some activists and many have stopped working with them. The government ran an in support of free trade in the middle of a program against it.
We need different models, but at the same time, we need the media center to develop the movement.
It’s not enough for public access to guarantee the national public broadcasting system. They have to be more accountable. We should have a more proactive picture about the future of media, and concrete proposals to change broadcasters to this system.
2002 Colombia constitution gave every municipality the right to found a community radio station. On paper, it’s very progressive. But as of November, of 560 licenses issued the majority have gone to religious and church organizations, traditionally the most reactionary element in the country. And then people think, why are they still complaining?
Moderator: Much of the best work is not done in the US; we have a lot to learn form them. There’s a group in Barcelona and Gibraltar, where a lot of African immigrants pass through, and they’re using GPS and sophisticated technology helping immigrants enter Europe. And this Estrechos indy media group is amazing, they do workshops in Northern Africa.
Mario: WBAI doesn’t touch the level of communication and authority in the community that these stations have in Colombia. Go in solidarity and not to try to teach anybody anything.