A year-end message from MAIN

December 22, 2011 by Wally Bowen

Dear Friends:

Since its launch in 1996, MAIN has played an increasingly important role in federal and state policies on community media and Internet access.

Here’s a quick look back at 2011:

* Last February, our public-interest allies in DC needed MAIN’s help in challenging a Verizon lawsuit to eliminate the FCC’s proposed open Internet rules. As the only “last-mile” ISP in the national media reform movement, MAIN was critical in achieving “standing” in the suit. On April 4, a US Appeals Court dismissed Verizon’s lawsuit.

* In March, MAIN made a landmark filing with the Federal Communications Commission calling for federal policies to protect communities’ rights to “self-provision” broadband infrastructure.

* In May, the rights of municipalities to “self-provision” broadband came under attack by the right-wing N.C. General Assembly. MAIN played a lead role in opposing this cable/telecom-driven legislation. Though the bill passed, we succeeded in blowing the whistle – and raising public awareness – on the cable/telecom lobby’s push for total control over broadband access in NC.

* Since July, we helped block repeated attempts by conservatives in Congress to auction our public airwaves to the highest bidder. These backroom deals – under the guise of “deficit reduction” – would eliminate the TV “white spaces,” the vacant TV channels we fought so hard to liberate from corporate control in 2008. This high-performance spectrum continues to be our greatest hope for solving the rural broadband crisis! We’re hopeful the FCC will give final approval for TVWS technologies in 2012.

Meanwhile, the cable and telephone companies are relentless in their efforts to prevent communities from launching broadband Internet networks. What if Wall Street had succeeded in prohibiting rural electric and telephone cooperatives 60 years ago?

Rural America won the battle to “self-provision” electricity and telephone service. With your help, we can win the battle to self-provision broadband Internet access!

Western North Carolina is unique in having a “last-mile” broadband network like MAIN to demonstrate how rural communities can escape broadband dependency on Wall Street and the cable/telco duopoly.

We need your help now more than ever. Our founder and executive director, Wally Bowen, has been diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. In 2012, we will begin a national search for Wally’s successor. Meanwhile, Wally will continue his invaluable policy work.

Your year-end, tax-deductible donation will help keep MAIN’s unique and historic work going strong in this pivotal year of 2012. You can donate via our secure online link, or mail your tax-deductible donation to: MAIN, 34 Wall Street, Suite 407, Asheville, N.C. 28801.

From all of us at MAIN, best wishes for a joyous holiday season and a happy new year!

The MAIN Board of Directors, Staff and Volunteers