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2006-10-26

Hip Hop Artist M-1 of Dead Prez: "The Media in This Country is an Organ of the State... It Controls What We Are Hearing and Seeing"

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Last week in New York, hundreds of citizens gathered for a town hall meeting on the future of diversity in the nation’s media. Speakers included several artists and activists from the hip hop community. We play a speech from M-1 of the rap group dead prez. [includes rush transcript]

The owners of Fox News are calling on the Federal Communications Commission to throw out all of its media ownership rules. In a filing with the FCC, the company said "It is beyond question that regulatory intervention is no longer necessary to ensure diversity and localism." Fox joined other large broadcast companies including CBS and the Tribune Company in calling on the FCC to allow for large media corporations to greatly increase its holdings.

Monday was the final day to submit comments to the FCC before it considers changing its media ownership rules. Meanwhile dozens of public interest groups filed comments arguing that media consolidation harms the public. The groups included: Common Cause, the Prometheus Project, Free Press, the Consumers Union, Children’s Media Policy Coalition, The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, the Rainbow/Push Coalition and Media Alliance.

Last week in New York, hundreds of citizens gathered for a town hall meeting on the future of diversity in the nation’s media. Speakers included several artists and activists from the hip hop community. One of them was M-1 of the group dead prez.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Juan, a quick question before we wrap up the broadcast. A few days ago, we ran your testimony in the town hall meeting here in New York around media consolidation, but there are even further developments now. Can you talk about what’s happening in Univision?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yeah. Well, as some people may be aware, NBC announced huge cutbacks and layoffs of its network staff and at NBC Universal about, I think it’s 700 jobs, 5% of its workforce. But one of the things that didn’t get much attention is that NBC is planning to shut down — NBC owns the Telemundo network, the Spanish-language network, and it’s planning to shut down the news programs, local news programs, in six major American cities: Phoenix, San Jose, Houston, San Antonio, and a couple of other — Denver, as well — and it is basically eliminating its local newscast and doing what Sinclair Broadcasting has done.

It’s going to focus — create a regional news center in Fort Worth, Texas, and leave only skeleton new staffs in all these major cities. These are some of the biggest cities in America. And these skeleton staffs will send to Fort Worth a couple of news stories that will then be beamed back to those local cities in basically a local news show that is not local. It’s largely canned material. So this is a major, major impact of consolidation on Spanish-language news. So, in San Jose, in Phoenix, in Denver, the local Hispanic communities there will not be receiving locally produced news. And we’ve got the situation now that is developing with FOX News. Fox News has called on the FCC now to eliminate all regulations, of FCC regulations over media ownership concentration.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to the videotape of what happened at the hearing that took place, where you also spoke. Monday was the final day to submit comments to the FCC before it considers changing its media ownership rules. Dozens of public interest groups filed comments arguing media consolidation harms the public. The groups included Common Cause, the Prometheus Project, Free Press, the Consumers Union, Children’s Media Policy Coalition, the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and Media Alliance. Citizens gathered here in New York at a town hall meeting on the future of diversity in the nation’s media. Among those who spoke were activists from the hip-hop community. One of them was M-1 from the group dead prez.

M-1: I’m here to represent for African people. I’m here to represent for hip-hop. I don’t have a lot to say, but what I have to say is important. First of all, I would like to pay respect to the father of this culture that I’m a part of, sitting right beside me, Afrika Bambaataa. That’s important. That’s important, because I think there’s a few things that we do know, and what we do know is that the media in this country is an organ of the state and the ruling class state that controls what we’re hearing and what we’re seeing. I’m clear on that. So it helps me understand our position. It helps me understand that this propaganda is part of a war that also exists against the black and brown community. It’s not just a war for oil, it’s a war for the minds of our people.

And I’ve been a part of this. My group, dead prez, has been existing in the hip-hop industry for about twelve years now, and I got an incredible education to understand what it takes for the voice of the people to be heard, because ultimately that’s what we’re trying to do, is let the people’s voice be heard, chiming in live from Brixton, where I’m just in from, and Mexico City, 25 million people. The voice of our people here is extinguished. We are voiceless. The image that’s being reported to the people outside of America about what’s going on here is false. It’s just like my brother Omawale reported from the Grassroots Artists Movement, and I’m here to balance the scales. And it’s only free voices that will be able to balance the scales. Serious. I’m a citizen of [inaudible].

I’m here to say that we’re sick and tired of not having voices that reflect exactly our reality in our community. We’re are sick and tired of that. And we’re also sick and tired of being bombarded with senseless and useless and meaningless messages that don’t do anything but drive forward this capitalist machine and get us to spend more and more. That’s not what we want to hear. That’s not what we want to hear.

I work for the people. The streets is my office. I put my ear to the ground, and I hear our movement. That’s not being reported on the radio. It’s not what’s being seen on the TV. That’s what I do, you know, as a social animal. And right now, I’m here to say that the word for today is "self-determination." That’s what we need: self-determination. That’s what — inside this meeting, outside this meeting, over our lives, and it’s being reflected in what’s happening to our brains.

What would Huey say? On the 40th anniversary of the Black Panther Party, what would Huey P. Newton say? "Community control." Just like my partner here said. If we ain’t talking about complete community control, if we’re not about the people being able to govern the voices that’s coming into our community — our elders, our ancestors, our leaders. Like we say in hip-hop, let the poppers pop and the breakers break. In other words, let the leaders lead, and let that be the filter for what’s being heard in our community, the real that need to be heard in our community. And, you know, basically I’m gonna put it like that.

Shout out to the Grassroots Artists Movement, which is an organization that’s —- a union that’s unionizing in hip-hop to fight for the ownership of our art and our culture. And either that or turn off the radio. Turn off that bull——-. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: M-1 of dead prez, testifying at the town hall meeting on media diversity and ownership in New York.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes, and this continues with the News Corp., as I mentioned before, the owners of Fox News are calling on the Federal Communication Commission to throw out all of its media ownership rules. In a filing with the FCC, the company said, quote, "It is beyond question that regulatory intervention is no longer necessary to ensure diversity and localism." FOX joined other large broadcast companies, including CBS and the Tribune Company, in calling on the FCC to allow for large media corporations to greatly increase their holdings.

And, you know, this is — part of the problem is, I was mentioning with the NBC-Telemundo thing, when NBC took over Telemundo several years ago, they promised the FCC that the merger was going to allow them to provide resources to expand news coverage for the Spanish-speaking community in the United States. And now, six years later, what they’re doing is they’re basically dismantling the little local news coverage that there was. And the thing is, as has been pointed out by several Latino organizations in the past week, if this is good, this kind of regional broadcasting that NBC is creating, why isn’t it doing it for its English-language programming? Why isn’t it shutting down the news operations of NBC in Boston, in Philadelphia and Hartford and doing a regional newscast from New York City, and then beaming into the local news to all those cities? Because localism is a clear requirement of FCC laws, that local broadcast stations must provide local services. And so this mass production of news is a critical question now.

AMY GOODMAN: And we should say, Juan, the NAHJ, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, is very involved with this, in protesting this, and you’re the past president of that national association.

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