The Coalition for Noncommercial Media is a community based
group comprised of media/communication scholars from the University at Buffalo, Buffalo
State College, Erie Community College and Niagara University, labor activists, community
activists, civil rights activists, parents and representatives from small businesses. We
formed to fight against the pending sale and privatization of WNEQ public television, channel 23,
in Buffalo. We believe in the preservation of existing public spaces in the broadcast
spectrum and see these spaces as analogous to public parkland. As our society becomes more
media oriented, this electronic parkland becomes more important. As the broadcast spectrum
expands with the introduction of digital technology, we would like to see these spaces
multiply to preserve the current public/private space ratio on the broadcast spectrum.
We also believe that these public frequencies should provide broadcast space for those members of our community whose voices are not currently being heard on commercial or corporate driven "public" television and radio. Hence, we are struggling both to protect noncommercial broadcast frequencies and fight for community groups to gain access to those frequencies.
We see the commercialization of our culture as a threat to our environment, our democratic principals and our spiritual well being. Commercial culture promotes anxiety, feelings of inadequacy and conspicuous consumption while undermining equitable development patterns, a sense of community and a sustainable lifestyle. The role of popular culture today is to sell products and corporate ideology. Noncommercial media, in theory, offers one of the few forums to resist this tidal wave of commercialization and hence, must both be preserved and pressured to act in the public interest.
We filed comments in 2000 with the FCC to both block the sale of WNEQ and to ask the FCC to adopt a policy disallowing any similar sales anywhere in the US. We also joined forces with the Institute for Public Representation at the Georgetown University Law Center, the Center for Media Education, Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting, the Center for Social Studies Education, the Civil Rights Forum, the Cultural Environment Movement and the Minority Media Telecom Council to file comments with the FCC opposing the creation of a lottery system for frequency allocation which would serve to hurt the chances of under represented groups to acquire public broadcast licenses. All of these documents are linked below.
When the Bush administration appointments to the FCC Board came to power in 2001 our fight was lost. They approved the sale and privitization of WNEQ for $27 million. WNEQ's former owner, Western New York Public Broadcasting Association promised to split their remaining TV station into a half dozen digital stations. Four years have passed and there is no more talk of this plan. The former WNEQ is now WNLO, a LIN Inc. station bringing us Survivor re-runs and the like.
Members of the CNCM have joined forces with community activists to form Niagara Independent Media -- a group that is now working to bring a progressive Pacifica public radio station to Buffalo in an attempt to replace some of our lost public broadcast spectrum.
NEWS Concerning the Channel 17/23 Sale (updated 2/9/01)
Complaint to FCC asking for recall of 17/23 licenses - Filed February 9th, 2001
Letter to the Editor (Buffalo News) 2/1/01
CNCM Petition to Deny Sale of WNEQ to Lin - Filed January 5th, 2001
FCC Determination Ruling in Favor of WNEQ
CNCM Comments to the FCC opposing commercial lease of WNEQ
CNCM would like to extend our appreciation to our attorney David Earl Honig, and also to the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flam who represented us in this struggle pro-bono (for free), and to the various Western New York community groups, clergy and political representatives and other organizations who supported our struggle to preserve public broadcasting in Western New York. We would also like to thank Jerold Starr and the Citizens for Public Broadcasting in Washington, D.C. for filing an Amicus with the F.C.C. supporing our petition for emergency relief (against a WNEQ lease).
Questions concerning CNCM may be directed to CNCM.