Last week was a crazy time for Reel Grrls, the local nonprofit that provides an outlet for teens interested in media production. In the wake of a tweet sent out a couple weeks ago by @reelgrrls that wasn't favorable to their benefactor, Comcast, the media conglomerate, pulled their funding of the program ($18,000 annually). The public--and Reel Grrls--cried foul, Comcast apologized, and said they'd keep funding Reel Grrls' summer program. Then on Friday, several hours after we ran a post titled "If Reel Grrls Has Such a Problem With Comcast, Maybe They Shouldn't Take the Conglomerate's Money," Reel Grrls told Comcast to keep their cash. Here's why:
Full statement from Reel Grrls:
We appreciate Comcast's desire to rectify this situation and hope to encourage them to craft a corporate policy that clearly defends freedom of expression in order to ensure that this situation does not arise again.
While we are heartened that Comcast has apologized for its actions, we believe this incident underscores the bigger problems associated with the overwhelming concentration of power that the Comcast/NBC merger and the resulting hire of Baker represents. It was only after a very public debate about Comcast's punitive actions toward our organization that Comcast was motivated to change its position. Unfortunately, it is exactly this type of public debate that can be squelched by mergers that threaten to raise the price for access to information, limit consumers choices in entertainment and news and give large media corporations the power to decide which opinions will see the light of day.
Given the serious questions Comcast's initial decision to take punitive measures on our organization raised about the ability of corporations to stifle public discussion, we have decided to redesign our summer camp to focus on developing films about free press issues. We have also decided that we will not be partnering with Comcast on the camp and will instead pursue other sources of funding. We appreciate Comcast's desire to rectify this situation and hope to encourage them to craft a corporate policy that clearly defends freedom of expression in order to ensure that this situation does not arise again.