A Step Closer to Just Prison Phone Rates

Today, the Federal Communications Commission released today the long-awaited proposal to eliminate unjust long-distance prison phone rates. 


Cheryl Leanza, UCC OC Inc.'s policy advisor said, "By releasing this proposal, the FCC has started its journey to end the immoral system of gouging families of prisoners."  She added, "Next, family members and advocates around the country must make their voices heard loud and clear in Washington--and we hope that the final rule must be adopted with great speed.  We will likely see the companies and prison systems which benefit from this rule begin to fight back.  All people of faith must stand firm so that we can prevail."

Media Justice ministry celebrates holidays by continuing campaign for fairness

UCC OC Inc. celebrated the day after Christmas by coordinating a filing with its civil rights and civil liberties allies to continue our joint campaign to increase the representation of women and people of color as media owners.  We filed jointly the day after Christmas at the Federal Communications Commission to demand that the FCC prioritize diversity in ownership over media consolidation. This filing builds on our prior efforts this fall.  UCC OC Inc. also submitted a detailed filing prepared by the Institute of Public Representation at Georgetown Law Center analyzing the changes in diverse media ownership over time and emphasizing the need to hold the line against consolidation.

Helping a civil rights coalition speak out

Cheryl works with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in several capacities.  Through her work and their staff, we have been able to demonstrate sophistication on media policy and communication rights.    In the last month, with Cheryl’s help, the Leadership Conference has been able to:  write an op-ed in the National Journal opposing media consolidation, and write two letters to the Federal Communications Commission drawing a line on the civil rights position and the “self-evidently insufficient” process blocking efforts to increase the numbers of women and people of color who own TV and radio stations.

Progressive States Network

The Progressive States Network needed assistance during a staff transition in order to keep its program on community broadband for state legislators vital.

  • Cheryl stepped in and seamlessly provided materials and a briefing for the annual legislative policy retreat in a few weeks’ time.
  • Cheryl took over the @BroadbandPSN twitter feed, providing a constant flow of interesting and relevant articles and doubling the number of followers.
  • Cheryl wrote regular blogs tracking activity around the states, and developed an email list to push out the blogs to interested state legislators who might not otherwise see them.
  • Cheryl drafted model legislation geared to appeal to state legislators of color and promote a progressive broadband agenda.
  • Cheryl provided detailed strategic analysis enabling the leaders of Progressive States Network to more deeply understand the landscape at play in state capitols around telecommunications issues.
  • Cheryl not only helped the organization meet its funder’s benchmarks, but also identified emerging policy opportunities worthy of forward-looking philanthropic support.


Native Public Media

Native Public Media wanted to obtain a regulatory change that would facilitate radio service to tribal lands.  NPM needed to build a record to assess the impact of various regulatory changes and eventually support a proposal to the Federal Communications Commission.

Cheryl undertook a confidential academic-quality research report identifying the impact, on tribal applicants for radio licenses, of Section 307(b) of the Communications Act (which requires a fair distribution of service throughout the United States).  Cheryl developed a survey instrument, combed FCC databases for relevant data, and prepared a detailed policy memo to explain the impact of this provision on the regulatory process of assigning new radio licenses.  She compiled detailed data and charts and quantitative evaluations for 38 applicants and 61 applications.

Loris Taylor, Executive Director of NPM, said, “Working with Cheryl was a satisfying and collaborative endeavor.  Her report was exceptionally thorough and answered the questions we needed addressed.  She stuck with the project even as the FCC’s glacial pace slowed our ability to acquire needed data.”