11. Constitutional Change

AS I HAVE already inferred, community groups could unite to bring pressure on national governments for Constitutional changes, either as proposed here, or as proposed by a consortium of communities.

I have encountered civic groups who - criticizing TV for its violence or general degradation - would like to censor it, and in some miraculous way substitute their own form of programming. I do not agree with this. I believe that any attempt in this direction would be completely counter-productive, substituting one form of centralized control for another.

The essence of the following proposal is quite different. It allows for a process of representative CHOICE of audiovisual processes. By which I do not mean a choice between a violent film or switching off. I mean the right to a choice regarding the entire output of the MAVM. Therefore, subsequent to a process of public debate, I would propose that something akin to the following formula be made the subject of a national referendum:

- If a certain percentage of the public in any community, region, or nation want genuine change and CHOICE in their mass media, they should be granted this by law, additional to existing Constitutional and Human Rights. This means - for example - that if 23% of the audience in Australia, or Norway, or Puerto Rico, or Canada, or anywhere else, voted for alternative forms of audiovisual media, then 23% of the communication airwaves, including at peak-hour viewing time, and including alternative forms of newsbroadcasting, should be allocated for this purpose, to that community, region, or nation.

(This does not mean superficial forms of 'participatory programming' - such as video diaries, etc., controlled and manipulated by professionals - it means a genuinely democratic interchange, based on creating a TV which has absolutely nothing - or very little - to do with the Monoform. It means direct public involvement, at the local community level, in devising editorial content, film form, themes, and alternative processes - even a black screen if so wished.)

- If a certain percentage of the public in any community (etc.) want genuine, critical, alternative forms of media education in their school system, as opposed to the Hollywood and professional-MAVM teaching so prevalent now (see chapter in main statement about vocational media training), they should be allowed this, and have provisions made for it.

Please note, that CHOICE in this scheme does not mean discriminating against people's right to have the existing popular culture, nor their right to violent or manipulative media (or media training) if they want that; it does not mean 'watch dog committees', or censoring material shown on TV or taught in schools. What it does mean is creating the right for a PARALLEL space on the public airwaves for alternative forms and processes of communication for those who want THAT. If popular culture fans chose to remain solely within the confines and time-slots of the existing order, that would be their decision. If they wished to participate in these alternative processes, that would also be their decision.

Given the wealth and span of ideas, wishes, creative possibilities, political concepts, ethnic and cultural backgrounds that exist in a community, I believe that the resulting kaleidoscope of process would be wondrous, and would probably entirely re-invent TV and the popular cinema as media. And given that the 'original' (ergo, violent, hierarchical, consumer-based) popular culture would undoubtedly still be running alongside these alternative forms, the juxtaposition would be a dynamic one, and could lead to a cultural, social and political debate, and thus to changes that we cannot even predict.

When I talk about CHOICE, therefore, I am referring not only to content or theme, but also to language-form and process, and to the entire relationship between the mass media and the public - i.e., to a Constitutional Right to a choice between a HIERARCHICAL or NON-HIERARCHICAL relationship between the mass media and the public. Such a choice - such a Right - does not exist anywhere; and none of the statements by the European Commission, or by governments regarding freedom of the press, etc., can hide this fact.

In fact, as I have pointed out, the only Constitutional freedoms regarding the mass media which exist thus far, are those enabling the media to do whatever they wish with the public (under the guise of 'freedom of speech'). There are no similar protective freedoms for the public. Furthermore, there is a complete lack of Constitutional provision that education systems offer young people genuinely critical and alternative concepts for creating and using participatory and non-violent audiovisual media.

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© Peter Watkins 2016