Monday :: Nov 22, 2004

Voting With My Eyeballs

by larre

Lengthy disclaimer: Some might misconstrue what follows as a commercial. It isn't. Neither I nor anyone I know has any financial interest whatsoever in the following message. I have only what might be described as a political or social interest -- as a liberal, an American, a child of the secular Enlightenment, a citizen of the world, and someone who is getting increasingly crabby about the disreputable state of the mass media in the U.S.

I'm also a tightwad. You might say I am a minor Madison Avenue nightmare. Except for books and expensive jewelry for the women in my life, I don't buy very much because I don't need a nano-tenth of what the commercial world is trying to sell me.

Just like someone else on Left Coaster (pessimist? Steve Soto?) I'm a proud member of the un-fashionable set. I refuse to wear anything that displays someone else's trademark on it, no matter the fashion. I figure if Nike or Pierre Cardin or John Deere wants to use my body as a mobile billboard they ought to pay me the going rate -- not the other way 'round. I love books more than newspapers, short wave (including the BBC) even more than public radio or C-SPAN or News Hour. I gave up watching screaming heads on cable news a long time ago. Occasionally, I do enjoy watching a commercial television program, but just barely more than I like having someone stick sharp needles under my fingernails.

I spent a few days this past week visiting in the home of some old friends. They live in a broadcasting swamp of terrible Sinclair-owned TV and radio stations. (Who doesn't? It's hard to avoid this extremist right-wing mega-media giant.) This Fall, it seems they became so exercised over Sinclair Broadcasting's shamelessly anti-Kerry, anti-public interest programing that they did some quick research, dropped their cable contract, and switched to a satellite TV system where carrying local stations is "optional." Then they joyously declined to pay the nominal fee for adding local stations (including Sinclair) to their satellite lineup.

My friends were eager to show off their new satellite TV system toy, so I steeled myself to be a gracious guest and feign interest as they flipped around finding mostly the same stuff I've been getting for years via cable. I have a neighbor who has a satellite TV dish. Since he's always watching sports and Fox TV news and voting Republican, I'm well aware that satellite and cable TV programming are pretty much alike. The only real difference between them is service and price.

That turns out to be almost true. As my friends pointed out, however, there is one channel -- available only by satellite service -- that is different. You can't get it on cable. You can't get it over the air. It's called Link TV:

A Non-profit Network
Link TV is the first US television channel providing a global perspective on the news, in depth reporting on the environment, human rights and other critical issues, and the best of world music and cultures. Link TV is owned and operated by Link Media, Inc., a not-for-profit tax exempt charitable organization under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Foundation Support
Link TV is funded by viewer contributions and by generous grants from numerous foundations including the Firedoll Foundation, Ford Foundation, Otto Haas Charitable Trust, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation,
Open Society Institute, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Shei'rah Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Tides Foundation, and Wallace Global Fund.

If many of those foundations sound familiar, it's because they also help to support some of the more admirable programming on NPR, PRI, and public television. But Link TV is even more comfortably removed from the blatant congressional political pressures that are trying to bend NPR, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Independent Television Service into trumpets for the extreme right-wing.

A glance at the program listings for Link TV will show you how extraordinary its content is when compared with anything seen -- at least, anything I've seen -- on commercial, cable, or public television in the U.S. Among the programs on display at my friends' house in the few days I was there:

Earth Focus, "Journalist Mark Hertsgaard interviews Robert F. Kennedy Jr., senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and author of the book 'Crimes against Nature', about the Bush Administration record on environment issues."

Mosaic: World News From The Middle East A daily feature of selections 'from TV news programs produced by national broadcasters throughout the Middle East. ...[including] television news broadcasts from selected national and regional entities. Some of the broadcasters are state controlled and others are private networks, often affiliated with political factions. These news reports are regularly watched by 300 million people in 22 countries all over the Middle East.'

Palestine Is Still the Issue - Australian 'John Pilger's powerful film documents the plight of Palestinians after 36 years of Israeli occupation. After being rejected by other U.S. networks, the WorldLink premiere of the film marked its U.S. television debut.' (A "debut" in America because every commercial, educational, and cable station in the nation was afraid to show it.)

This is stuff you can't get on cable or over the airwaves in the U.S. (In fact, every American network including PBS chickened out on showing "Palestine Is Stll the Issue.") But you can visit the Link TV web site and view many of the programs for free via computer, download longer documentaries, or order CD copies.

So, strictly speaking it isn't necessary to sign up for satellite service to have access to the innovative and informative programming of Link TV.

Even so, today I'm calling one of the local satellite TV services. Then I'm going to tell my cable company to discontinue service. And, as my friends did, I'll tell them why: I've had it with lowest denominator right-wing news, Sinclair Broadcasting, and screaming heads TV. I want access to important world news and documentaries free from U.S. corporate-think censorship.

My choice for satellite television service in itself may seem as inconsequential as my vote. Just like the ballot I cast on November 2, it isn't going to change the world. But, also like voting, I figure every eyeball counts.

larre :: 6:12 AM :: Comments (13) :: Digg It!