It’s no secret that the world of media is being transformed as digital technologies change how people and nations communicate and entertain, do business and govern. But as old and new media undergo this transformation, there is deep concern as to how the promise of the digital age will be fulfilled. Consolidation within the media industry over the last century has created a monoculture that is dangerously uncritical and uninformative. Many of the same trends can be seen emerging in the realm of digital media as well. And that, simply put, is bad for both business and democracy.
Open MIC aims to generate provocative discussion and debate about the future of media, highlighting the importance of private-sector and capital-market mechanisms in shaping a more positive future. Essential to that process is community-powered, networked dialogue which draws on the experience, insight and opinions of consumers and creators of media.
Current Open MIC initiatives include:
Open Access – Freedom of expression is fundamental to democracy, yet major cable and telephone companies that provide internet access and other information services have thus far failed to disclose standards that would guarantee open access to media to all customers. When AT&T censored lyrics in a Pearl Jam concert webcast in August 2007, Open MIC spoke out and worked with an institutional investor to demand answers from AT&T management. Open access is a key element in the debate over “internet neutrality,” which would guarantee equal access to the internet regardless of the source of content.
Universal Broadband – In 2004, President George W. Bush set a goal of insuring that “broadband technology is available in every corner of America by the year 2007.” Yet today the United States ranks 15th in the world for broadband penetration and typical U.S. lines are far slower than those in many countries. Rural and low-income households are far less likely to have a fast line than wealthier and urban ones. Numerous studies have demonstrated that universal broadband access would reap enormous benefits to the U.S. economy. Mark Lloyd, an Open MIC board member and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, recently testified before Congress on how important broadband is for health care, civic participation, and public safety. You can read Mark’s testimony here .
Open MIC Reporting Framework – A key element of “free market” economics is the timely disclosure of information upon which consumers, investors and other stakeholders can base decisions. In addition to governmental disclosure, many companies voluntarily provide additional data on their operations through verifiable third-party organizations. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), for example, has pioneered the development of the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework, with more than 1,000 organizations – including some of the world’s leading brand names – adopting the GRI guidelines. Open MIC is now working to establish a similar voluntary process for media and telecommunications companies to provide reliable, credible and consistent information on a range of media practices.
We invite you to learn more about our mission, our team and the issues. You can also contact us with comments and questions about Open MIC.
Founded in late 2006, Open MIC is a project of the Tides Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.