From Our Executive Director

Why Free Speech TV Matters More Than Ever

Ready For The Next 25 Years!

I have written that “Free Speech TV is a bold and crazy experiment that asks the question: can an independent, progressive, national television network survive in the era of Trump?”

I think it’s safe to say that we have the answer:

In 2020, this little network, powered by a small but mighty staff and kept on the air by the fierce support of our viewers, has reached a remarkable milestone: we are celebrating our 25th anniversary!

In 1995, when co-founders John Schwartz and Jon Stout conceived of a national progressive television network that would amplify voices and issues shut out of the corporate media, they knew that the integrity of that mission could only be assured if they protected it from the corrupting influence of big money and corporate control.

So they founded a visionary non-profit that was way ahead of its time—a television network that would go directly to its viewers for the funds necessary to speak truth to power.

Today, unlimited money has flooded into every part of our society, corrupting and twisting policy, politicians and institutions to benefit the rich and powerful.

Just as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren knew that to build a political campaign that could confront such corruption they would need to reject PAC donations and the support of the billionaire class, so Schwartz and Stout had the wisdom to build their media institution free of corporate control and the influence of the 1%. Their “business model” was to seek large numbers of small contributions, ensuring its independence.

That Free Speech TV is celebrating its 25th year is a small miracle. It is a testament to the talent, passion and determination of those who have done this work over the decades. There have been other progressive television projects that have come and gone over that time that sought to pursue similar missions. They often had far greater resources and high profile people involved.

Today, national television networks operating in America are invariably owned by a corporation, a billionaire or a foreign government.

In a TV ecosystem that elevates such dishonest actors as One America Network, Newsmax and Fox News, FSTV stands proudly and fearlessly apart. In response to the increasingly obvious limitations of corporate networks like CNN and MSNBC, we stand ready to take the conversation further, with the courage to pose systemic solutions and oftentimes inconvenient truths.

Attacks on the press—the bullying and intimidation—are a daily occurrence now and growing. Our network provides a safe home to some of the most talented progressive hosts and reporters in the industry who seek and require an independent, un-compromised platform to do their work, to tell their truth.

After 25 years, one thing has not changed. We continue to walk a razor’s edge between staying true to our mission and surviving in an economic and media environment that rewards everything we are not and never will be.

In this time of incessant lies, blatant corruption and growing constitutional threat, Free Speech TV’s original mission is more urgent and timely than at any time in the last 25 years.

This television network has always been a magnificent collaboration—a powerful partnership among a special community, spread wide across the far reaches of our country, that demands a media institution that will empower those without a voice.

We exist today, at 25, because our viewers and donors made it so.

Together, we will face the future with strength and resolve. We will give voice to the resistance. We will dream of a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.

Will you join us as we take the first steps forward in the next 25 years of television powered by the people?

 

Ron Williams

Executive Director, Free Speech TV

02/05/2020