A keynote speech by FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps highlighted the 20th Annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture and Awards Luncheon, held Sept. 24 at National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C. The lecture, sponsored by the UCC's Proclamation, Identity and Communication Ministry and the Telecommunications Research and Action Center, honors the UCC ministry's founder, the Rev. Everett C. Parker, a pioneering advocate for the public's rights in the broadcast arena.
In addition, two prestigious awards were given.
Wade Henderson, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, received the Parker Award. Each year since 1989, this award has been given to one individual whose work embodies the principles and values of advocating for the public interest in advancing social change and closing social divides.
Judy Woodruff, CNN's Prime Anchor and Senior Correspondent, received the McGannon Award. Named for the former CEO of Westinghouse Broadcasting, the award is given annually to one individual or organization in recognition of special contributions in advancing the role of women and people of color in the media.
In his address, Copps called upon the FCC to resurrect its review of the public interest obligations of digital television broadcasters. Copps also challenged the media to participate in the FCC's review of ownership in their industries, "not just on the overall economic effects of consolidation in the media, but also on its social, cultural, political and diversity effects, too."
"This is an excellent opportunity for the media to demonstrate the independence of their newsrooms from their corporate interests," he said.
The ill effect of consolidation also was the topic of Sen. Russell Feingold's (D-Wis.) address to the Parker Lecture's annual Legislator's Breakfast. "Radio is a public medium, and we must ensure that it serves the public good," he said. "The concentration of ownership in the radio and concert industry has made it difficult for individuals, artists and organizations to find outlets to express their creativity and promote diversity."
Feingold pointed a finger at the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which "opened the floodgates for concentration in the radio and concert industry."
"Passage of this Act was an unfortunate example of the influence of soft money in the political process," he said. "Everyone was at the table, except for the consumers." Feingold outlined legislation he and two co-sponsors have introduced that he says would help heal the damage done by the Telecommunications Act.
The texts of Copps' and Feingold's addresses, as well as press releases and the text of the prayer delivered at the Parker Lecture by the Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC General Minister and President, are available at www.ucc.org/parker.