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<nettime> call for a campaign to save amsterdams free media
geert lovink on Fri, 5 Sep 2003 09:02:16 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> call for a campaign to save amsterdams free media

(posted to nettime-l with the permission of the authors. there are efforts
under way to get this campaign up and running. a lot of the communication
will in the first instance be coordinated via nettime-nl. more information
such as email addresses, lists and  blogs will be available next week during
the next five minutes festival. /geert)

From: "David Garcia" <davidg {AT} xs4all.nl>

"Help Amsterdam Free Media" campaign.

Over recent months there have been many discussions, naturally in Dutch, of
the progressive destruction of Amsterdam's unique legacy of community
access and independent media networks. This hatchet job has been achieved
by a combination of ruthless corporate greed, the lack of knowledge and
(frankly) incompetence of local politicians, (supposedly the guardians of
the uniquely local democratic freedoms of expression) and the (almost
total) apathetic cultural, social and political media makers and artists
that have used Amsterdam's media but seem unwilling to put up a real fight
when it is threatened. To demonstrate the dimension of what is being lost
here let me make a direct comparison. In London at Hyde Park Corner there
is something called Speaker's Corner. It is known around the world that any
one can turn up and stand on a soap box and say what they like. If Speakers
Corner were to be snuffed out by a powerful real-estate developer, and
simply re-located without warning to a suburb (it is situated in a prime
piece of London Real estate worth millions) with the icompetence or worse
connivence of local politicians, it would warrent more than an indifferent
shrug it would cause a national (and maybe international) outcry. But the
equivelent decimation in the common space of the media landscape so far
illicits bearly a ripple of public indignation.

There are a few voices raised in anger notably of media artist and activist
Mauz who for more than a year has been a Jeremiah warning (with an astute
technical analasys of the weapons being mobilised against our local media
culture) there have been a few others.

Next 5 Minutes began a decade ago as an event which was built around
"Tactical Television". N5M would not have happened without a uniquely local
media culture generating certain forms of media freedom and energy that
made Amsterdam briefly "a pirate utopia for tactical media". This week the
final embers of those freedoms were snuffed out as the company managing the
cable networks UPC changed -with little or no warning- the frequencies by
which Amsterdam TVs are tuned to the community access channels. At a stroke
the carefully nurtured viewing publics of Amsterdam's community media
makers were instantly decimated as few people know how to (or are willing)
to re-tune their TV sets. And meanwhile the organisation SALTO which is the
appointed guardian of the community access dimension continues to sail on
with its ambitious projects as though nothing has happened. community
access TV makers will continue to beaver away but public has left the
building forgetting only to turn off the lights.

The current edition of Next 5 Minutes, Amsterdam's festival of Tactical
Media has coincided with these developments. Of all the editors of N5M only
Menno Grootveldt has fully embraced the implications of these developments
he has been the only one of us editors who fought hard for a debate on the
crisis (well the crisis was probably years ago, we are far to late) of
Amsterdam tactical media.

Time to admit that Menno and Mauz should have been heeded long ago and that
we must use the festival to (at least try) to reverse the tide of
indifference. Time for a campaign. Time for important programs and
long-time users of Amsterdam's media including PARK, Belisma but above all
Hoeksteen (including all the politicians of all parties that have benefited
from that platform and social network) to stand up for Amsterdam's media

Although little valued at home, Amsterdam's tactical and community media
projects has a significance way beyond the boarders of the city. Next 5
Minutes is one of the events that made people outside of the Netherlands
aware of our the city's remarkable media structure as a unique laboratory
for cultural experimentation. A campaign against the its summary extinction
by corporate greed must be launched at the Next 5 Minutes and if possible
be internationalised.

Our enemy may not be an obvious tyrant like Milosovic shutting down a local
radio station like B92. it is a less obvious, faceless and even more
dangerous enemy a - winner takes all capitalist fundementalism- ruthlessly
crushing oppositional media. After the Help B92 campaign we now desperately
need a "Help Amsterdam's Free Media" campaign.

David Garcia


Hi David,

I love your story & phrasing so far, I will have a more indepth look in it

But also I would request you also mention the reperession on the Free
Not just in Amsterdam/ The Netherlands, because i see many simularities with
the capitalist globilisation threath to Public Access TV in Amsterdam.
Actually the Radio situation is even worse, since the government decided to
sell FM band frequencies to the highest bidder. This auction was ealier this
year and now, September 1st, is is in full effect: Much more of the same
commercial rubbish on the Dutch airwaves, by stations owned by foreign

Free, non-commercial, UNSUBSIDIZED Stations, who have been running
independently , autonomously for more the TWENTY years are forced of the
air, peacefull sinceer people who do nobody any harm are being criminalized
and getting harsh juridical punishments after decennia of being tolerated /
accepted by authorities & the public.While they do the contrary of criminal
activities: They dont steal anything, THEY GIVE! ( volunteer radio work with
art, alternative music, and information for cultural and social

In fact the only Radiostations left on air in the Netherlands WITHOUT
commercial breaks in programming are ILLEGAL by law!!

And again, the Netherlands is not unique on the planet in all this, maybe
even the capitalistic globalisation crushing free/open media is even a bit
here...  But if we even cannot save it here (with the relative 'strong
Amsterdam potential),where can we? It is a major threath to real democracy
(iI can get more specific about this if wanted). Amsterdam is good as a
basis to help it save or even return anywhere on the planet.

I'll write more later,
bye for now.


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