Today I had the opportunity to introduce FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn at the 2011 National Rural Assembly, in St. Paul, Minnesota.
I’m posting my prepared remarks along with the video of Commissioner Clyburns speech
Good afternoon National Rural Assembly! My name is amalia deloney and I am the Media Policy Director at the Center for Media Justice. I’m excited to be here today, back in my hometown of St. Paul (the best side of the Mississippi) and, more importantly, to introduce our esteemed guest, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn from the FCC.
Today, the Internet has become essential to our daily lives in countless ways – from applying for a job, to investing for retirement, to completing a homework assignment or distance learning, to finding medical advice or starting a healthy diet. Media and telecommunications provide not only the connective tissue for democracy and a critical vehicle for social change, but as the nation undergoes a massive transition to digital platforms- wireless and Internet communications also have the potential to provide the digital backbone for bold economic ideas that can empower rural communities and transform racial and economic disparities into real equity.
Yet, as new information and communication technologies contribute to the restructuring of relationships of production and distribution and connect people and places across the globe in new ways, real concerns emerge regarding the formation of a ‘digital divide’ between those who can access and make use of these new technologies and those who cannot. As we transition to this new economy, the power to communicate, and therefore imagine a better future, should belong to everyone!
Unfortunately, our current media policy landscape is one of hyper-consolidation and a media policy process that often disenfranchises and excludes America’s rural communities from decision-making, yet capitalizes on their market worth. Today, the FCC estimates that broadband service is completely unavailable to at least 14 million Americans. Only 67% of American Indians have telephone service in their homes; and, according to a report by the Pew Research Center, 18% of blacks and 16% of English-speaking Latinos access the Internet only from their cell phones. This must change. Choice, affordability and competition are what we need. Rural America needs to take a stand against the proposed corporate duopoly, and we need strong public advocates to support us! Fortunately we have FCC Commissioner Clyburn.
As many of you know, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has a long history of public service and dedication to the public interest. Prior to her swearing in as a Commissioner, she served for 11 years as the representative of South Carolina’s sixth district on the Public Service Commission. And, for well over two decades, Commissioner Clyburn has been actively involved in many community organizations.
We need people like Commissioner Clyburn fighting for us in Washington, to ensure that poor, rural, native and communities of color are not disconnected from the 21st century information economy—and to fulfill the Commission’s mandate to put the interests of the people first. Her presence, as well as her deep and committed orientation make me confident that our voices will be heard today, and assures me that we can continue our fight-‐knowing that Rural America, has a real champion in the FCC.
Without any further delay, please stand with me and welcome FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn.