President & CEO,
Free Press & Free Press Action Fund
We played a pivotal role in the allocation o more than $7 billion in ederal unds orbroadband buildout to under- and unserved communities. Our eorts helped to bringabout the long-awaited release o a National Broadband Plan that sets goals or broadbandadoption and deployment or the next 10 years. And most recently, ater years o sustainedadvocacy by Free Press activists, the FCC announced the start o a rulemaking proceedingor Net Neutrality, the principle that ensures consumer choice and the ree ow o communications online.But now the real ght or better media begins — because the closer we get toimplementing these key public interest policies, the more opposition we ace romindustry, which is employing dirtier tactics and has deeper pockets than ever beore.In order to control Internet trafc and to ght competition that could lower prices andexpand consumer choice, the telecom industry has spent record amounts o money onlobbyists to spin Net Neutrality as anti-business. They are seeding ake grassroots groups tocreate the illusion o popular support or their anti-consumer practices. And they’re liningthe coers o lawmakers willing to act as their shills.And what we’re nding is that the promise o change that swept President Obama into ofceat the beginning o 2009 has dissipated in a Washington that remains beholden to corporatespecial interests and the status quo. The names have changed or the leadership posts o key committees and agencies, but the old ways o governing are still deeply entrenched.Our challenge is to hold new leadership to earlier commitments, to engage our activists inghting new threats, and to promote media policy that serves the public interest.And that’s exactly what we’re doing.We’re producing groundbreaking papers that are serving as a roadmap or a visiono people-powered media policy. At the same time, we’re driving tens o thousandso activists to contact the Federal Communications Commission and their electedrepresentatives and mobilizing hundreds o civic organizations and small-business groups.We’re making sure media issues keep a high prole in the mainstream press and theblogosphere, and we’re getting the word out through every means possible, including YouTube,online social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and other websites and online tools.In 2009, we launched our SavetheNews.org campaign to address the crisis in journalism and thenewspaper industry. Through this campaign, we’re identiying policy solutions to support thequality journalism our democracy needs, policies such as changes to the tax code and bankruptcylaw and new nonprot approaches. We’ve also been laying the groundwork to build support orthe expansion and revitalization o our public media system. A House vote in the all o 2009 toissue new licenses to community radio stations across the country was the result o many years o hard work by Free Press and our independent media allies. This was also the year when media consolidation once again reared its ugly head. When the buzzbegan in early all that cable and Internet giant Comcast was planning to take over NBC Universal,Free Press quickly mobilized its base. This dangerous deal, which would result in higher prices andewer choices or consumers and less competition in our media markets, has proved to be a greaton-ramp or new activists.Finally, we convened the Free Press Summit or the rst time in 2009, bringing together keypolicymakers, public interest advocates, entrepreneurs, media makers, and hundreds o engagedpeople to Washington, D.C. The central theme o this successul event was also the ocus o our work this year: the need to develop a comprehensive communications policy ramework that recognizesthe connection between Internet and journalism policy and seeks to ensure the uture o both.In short, 2009 has been a year o great accomplishment or Free Press and the Free Press ActionFund. And or this, we must thank our tireless activists and our loyal supporters or carrying thetorch during these exciting times. We are inspired by and grateul or all you do and look orwardto a brilliant 2010.Onward,
2009 was an exceptional year or Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund. A new administrationaltered the political landscape, bringing reormopportunities we wasted no time in seizing.
Chairman o the Board,
Free Press & Free Press Action Fund