Speech just wants to be free

picture-1.pngOver the last few weeks, I have been tracking the fate of a call on Larry Lessig’s blog for the US political parties and television networks to eliminate unnecessary regulation of political speech by allowing unfettered online access to the recording of the parties’ debates among presidential candidates. First, Barak Obama came on board, next John Edwards and then Chris Dodd. Then CNN announced that it would make presidential debate footage available without restrictions (though Fox News has announced that it will not).

Following yesterday’s RTE.ie web debate comes the news that there will be a television debate between Fianna Fail leader Bertie Ahern and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny on Prime Time on 17 May next. Given that RTE is a Public Service Broadcaster, a non-profit making organisation owned by the Irish people, and Ireland’s cross-media leader, it has seemed to many Irish bloggers (eg Fergus, Neil, Damien, Irish Election) that RTE should follow the US example and make the video of this forthcoming Prime Time debate available online without restrictions, to promote and foster the widest possible dissemination of, and discussion about, that debate.

As a consequence, I have written to Cathal Goan, the Director General of RTE, calling on RTE to do precisely that; and I have written to Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny seeking their support. Yes, that was an old fashioned printout on paper, put in an envelope, and sent via courier – here’s a pdf of the three letters. But, because this is the internet, I have also set up an online petition to this effect. Please feel free

  • to sign the petition,
  • to email, phone or fax RTE, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael on this issue,
  • to spread the good word about this, espeically to the ‘old’ media, and among politicians, and
  • to help out in any other way that you can (for example, a ‘speech just wants to be free button’ would be good, but is beyond my limited graphical and coding powers – they only get as far as the little election image on the top of this post, though if you click on that, you’ll get to the petition too!).

Remember, speech just wants to be free!