Broadcasting for the People?
Filed under: Media Watch
A new television news channel is planned for 2007. They are seeking donations from the public now.
The IWT website debuted today, with this statement on their front page:
Serious news and full-spectrum debate—on which democracy depends—are disappearing from television. Across the globe, news media ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few entertainment conglomerates whose interests determine news coverage. They promote superficial “infotainment” over tough investigation, context and holding authority accountable. Public broadcasters face shrinking budgets and growing political and commercial pressures.
We must change the economics of journalism.
We need a news and current affairs network which defends the public interest and the highest standards of journalism. Independent World Television will be such a network — a non-profit broadcast service financed by its viewers across the globe, independent of corporate or government funding and commercial advertising.
Why Hasn’t This Happened Before?
There were no means to directly engage people around the world to raise the funds. Now, the Internet allows millions to band together and raise capital to compete with corporate media outlets. Think of the 15 million people worldwide who demonstrated against war in Iraq on one day in 2003. Think of the Internet fundraising successes of MoveOn.org and the Howard Dean presidential campaign (senior Dean fundraisers are organizing IWTnews’ fundraising campaign).
The network is raising a $7 million start-up budget from individual donors and foundations. MacArthur, Ford and Haas foundations have contributed to a planning study. In its next phase, IWTnews will launch its web site and build the online community necessary for the international mass fundraising campaign launching in early 2006. The campaign will use concerts and media events headlined by socially-conscious celebrities to drive the Internet fundraising. If half a million people in the entire world contribute just $50, IWTnews will secure the $25 million it needs to fund its first year of broadcasting, in 2007.
To be seen on its own digital television channel and the web, IWTnews is also negotiating alliances with public and nonprofit channels to carry its programming. IWTnews will cover the big issues - war and peace, political campaigns, environment, global economy, civil rights, labor issues and social policy. IWTnews will hire journalists for their experience, political acumen and understanding of history. Complex issues will be addressed with energy, bite and wit. Citizen journalism will bring insight from people around the world. Informed by a commitment to social justice and respecting diversity of opinion, IWTnews will focus on news other media ignore or suppress and on individuals and groups who are transforming the world.
PBS gets its funding from the government, corporations, foundations, and individuals. I’ve long wondered if it wouldn’t be better if they got their donations only from individuals, to reduce government and corporate influence.
With “Independent World Televison” we have an experiment in that model. IWT is getting startup money from foundations (the MacArthur, Ford and Haas foundations), but hopefully their future support will come entirely from individual supporters.
I’m planning to donate to “Independent World Televison” today with the link on the top-right of the main page.