New FCC boss coming to Oakland

Pub date January 7, 2014
WriterReed Nelson
SectionPolitics Blog

On Thu/9, Voices for Internet Freedom, Free Press and the Center for Media Justice are hosting Tom Wheeler, the recently installed Federal Communications Commission chairman, for a town hall-style meeting about the state of communication policy, both in the Bay Area and nationally.

The event, which will be held in Nile Hall of Preservation Park, runs from 7-9pm and will feature a panel discussion, commentary from influential community members and remarks from Wheeler. There also will be a lengthy time slot reserved for public comments and questions. While the event has sold out, viewers can catch a live webstream here during the event.

“It’s going to be a fairly short event, but power packed,” said Malkia Cyril, founder and Executive Director of the Center for Media Justice. “We want to bring the frame of consciousness about the role of media and culture to the dialogue with the FCC, [because] that generally isn’t there.

“Generally, when it’s those kind of conversations they have, we are not the kind of people they’re talking to. And we want to make sure that the voices of folks that are usually in the margins of debate really get heard.”

Preceding the main event will be a smaller, more focused meeting between Wheeler and “a few leaders of social justice in the Bay Area,” according to Cyril. The purpose is to give local leaders a chance to share the types of conditions affecting their communities in a small group setting, she added.

But it will be during the main town hall meeting that Wheeler, who was officially named FCC Chairman on Nov. 4 of 2013, will face a litany of questions from Oakland-area community members.

The topics expected to be broached during the meeting range from broad — net-neutrality, ownership of broadband, corporate ownership of broadcast mediums — to specific — like the fact that, according to Cyril, “there are zero African-Americans who own a full power television station in this country.”

And they’ll also want to discuss the abject employment bridge between the FCC and big-money corporations. “Given the fact that previous FCC Chair, [Julius] Genachowski just got a huge Wall Street job, I think they’ll also raise questions about this revolving door at the FCC between companies and policy makers,” said Cyril, who was referring to Genachowski’s transition from FCC Chair to the Carlyle Group, which is (naturally) a global asset management firm.

“I think we see that as a critical issue right now, so that will probably come up.”

For more information about the event, or to be added to the waitlist, visit