Your Turn. . . 10-23-03
On the line
I was surprised to see among the list of ten censored news stories your inclusion of number six, "closing access to information technology" [Kari Lydersen, "Censored!" Oct. 9]. Telecommunication company representatives have been quoted as saying they "missed the boat" on the Internet boom of the '90s and intend to control and dominate broadband Internet access. That essentially means: "Suck every dollar out of the consumer they can."
I recently received a flier for a conference called "Innovations in Connectivity, The Fourth Annual Telecommunications Conference," which is being held at the University of Illinois at Springfield [Nov. 20-21]. On the bill is U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-19th) and Link Hoewing, Verizon's vice president of Internet and Technology Policy.
What are these guys going to discuss at UIS? Well, probably how companies like SBC Communications and Verizon can provide all the information technology to rural communities, including Internet access. I doubt they will mention it was companies like ours that brought local Internet access years ago to all those rural communities.
Incidentally, when our business tried to obtain help from the congressman, all we got were pat answers that may as well have been written by a spokesman for Verizon or SBC. Of course, SBC is among Rep. Shimkus's largest campaign contributors.
Your article is essentially correct: Verizon, SBC, and the other regional Bell companies intend to destroy competition in the Internet access arena by doing what they can to prevent deployment of any alternative broadband offerings and eliminating any competition. Then they can milk everybody for as much as possible while providing service far below the standards maintained by the state's independent Internet service providers.
President, Winco Inc.
This is in response to Jeff Moore's letter [Oct. 16] on the "Censored!" story. I find it odd to suggest that the author made the stories up or got them from non-credible sources. For example, "Censored!" cited coverage of the first and second Patriot Act. The fact that Bush signed this legislation (the first act, so far) and that this has an effect on our civil liberties is hardly a conspiracy theory. The point was that the dangers the act poses have gotten very little media attention. Why? There are many reasons why the media censor stories. One is mainstream media are owned by a few giant corporations that exercise control over content. Another is that the large media tend to pander to the mainstream, somewhat conservative public.
The media may, in fact, as Mr. Moore points out, be all over a story if it's controversial, but this is only if the public's interested. The public seems to be completely uninterested in the fact that Bush lied about his case for war, so this takes a backseat to other stories. Answer this one: How many civilian deaths have there been so far in our wars with Afghanistan and Iraq? Very few people know, I suspect, because of the media's lack of reporting.
Another reason Moore cites for criticizing the article seems to be based on his view that "America wouldn't really do this." Well, I can certainly tell you that in the times America has gotten its hands dirty, it was generally not with the intention of improving freedom and basic human rights.
Voice of the people
This is just to say thank you to Illinois Times for its ongoing interest in and presentation of poetry and local poets. There are many of us who look forward each week to reading the work of John Knoepfle and the poets featured in "People's Poetry." Kudos to both Corrine Frisch and her predecessor, Lee Gurga, for their work as editors of "People's Poetry."
Public TV seeks support
The recent debate over media consolidation has overlooked the distinctly local service that public television and public radio stations provide to their communities.
Because "ownership" isn't in question, public broadcasting stations aren't considered in that debate. But there is a lingering question about funding that threatens the services they now provide.
The House's fiscal year 2004 Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations bill would reduce federal support for public broadcasting by $100 million -- a 26 percent reduction in federal funds.
A drastic reduction in the federal appropriation would have a chilling effect on public radio and TV stations providing local programming -- and would simultaneously put in jeopardy their ability to pay for NPR and PBS programs. The House bill would silence strong local voices.
Those concerned about the preservation of locally controlled media should contact their Congressional representative [and] ask them to support the funding level for public broadcasting proposed by the Senate.
SIUC Broadcasting Service
The Association of Public Television Stations
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