A section of Mathison’a forthcoming book, Be The Media describes how a lecture given by Amy Goodman inspired Marin County, California media activists to get Democracy Now! broadcast in their area. By mobilizing community wide support and working with a county-wide government agency, they won the right to a community media center with local public access channels, and a $2.5 million grant from the Comcast/Marin cable franchise agreement.
In April 2004, Amy Goodman spoke at Book Passage, an independent book store in Marin County. Members of Media Action Marin (MAM) gathered signatures from the overflowing crowd, in order to petition the Marin Telecommunications Agency (MTA) to air Democracy Now! on Marin’s public access channel, CH26.
However, the provider was unable to deliver Democracy Now! because the cable company (Comcast) was broadcasting commercial content on the channel. After a year of advocacy by MAM, the MTA voted to order Comcast to end commercial broadcasts on the access channel, allowing Democracy Now! to begin broadcasting in Marin.
The experience strengthened Marin’s negotiating posture versus Comcast during the cable franchise renewal. It helped Marin secure a $2.5 million grant from Comcast to fund the creation of a new, non-profit, independent Community Media Center, complete with channels for Public, Education and Government (PEG).