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MediaJustice

Delegation of Low-Income Advocates To Meet with FCC to Fight Proposed Cuts to Lifeline Program

April 18, 2019


CONTACT: Eteng Ettah, eteng@mediajustice.org


WASHINGTON D.C ---- Today, a delegation of Lifeline subscribers and direct service providers, led by the Center for Media Justice, arrived in Washington D.C. to advocate for increased protections for the Lifeline program amidst potential cuts proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In a series of meetings with FCC commissioners, delegates from leading advocacy groups and the Media Justice Network, including The Greenlining Institute, Martinez Street Women's Center, The Utility Reform Network (TURN), Bread for the City, El Concilio of San Mateo County and Black Lives Matter DC, will share how Lifeline connects them and their communities to the critical resources they need to thrive in today’s society.


The Lifeline program, which serves nearly 13 million Americans1, is essential to connecting people of color and those living on low incomes to vital resources, such as health information, education and employment opportunities. Started under the Reagan administration to connect low-income families to landline telephones, the program has been modernized to support access to cell phones and broadband Internet.  The current FCC led by Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing harmful cuts to the program that would disconnect 70% of the current subscribers, decrease the number of vendors who offer Lifeline, and place a limit on the number of times an individual can access the program. While the program has become a literal lifeline for hurricane victims and victims of domestic abuse, the FCC is justifying its proposal by claiming the program is “a waste of taxpayer money and rampant with fraud1.” The Trump administration and FCC’s opposition to Lifeline is part of a broader, concerted effort to attack our digital civil rights, and most significantly impacts communities of color and those living on low incomes.


The following statement can be attributed to Erin Shields, National Organizer for Internet Rights at the Center for Media Justice:


“The Federal Communications Commission must terminate the 2017 Lifeline proposals and abandon it’s undignified attempt to limit low-income communities’ access to the communication rights they deserve and need. Lifeline is not just a policy to be tweaked and tinkered with to the millions of subscribers who depend on the service to connect with family and the lifesaving services they need to survive and thrive. The Center for Media Justice and our ever-growing network of allies committed to supporting our country’s most marginalized communities will continue to fight these burdensome reforms and center the voices and experiences of those with the most to lose.”


Members of the delegation added the following comments:

 

“When we invest in Lifeline, we are investing in the tools America needs to close the wealth gap and rebuild our disappearing middle class, ” said Vinhcent Le of The Greenlining Institute.

 

“Having Lifeline service literally means the difference between life or death for me,” said Leonard J Edwards of Bread for the City.

 

“As an organization that serves low income communities, it's important that Lifeline is continued and also marketed to those who qualify. This is something that can reduce the stress of financial pressures. Lifeline can be the difference from having reliable broadband for homework, or having to sit at a fast food restaurant for that service,” said Andrea Figueroa of Martinez Street Women's Center.

 

For live updates throughout today’s advocacy day at the FCC, follow @mediajustice on Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Launched in 2009, the Center for Media Justice fights for racial and economic equity in a digital age. mediajustice.org