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Comcast Tweet Censorship Thwarted

May 24, 2011

SEATTLE - Supporters of a Seattle group that runs a summer camp teaching media skills to teenage girls say they've raised enough money to tell cable giant Comcast it can keep its corporate donation to the program, after the company tried to censor their "tweets."

The subject of the Reel Grrls' tweet was the announcement by Comcast last month that it is hiring Federal Communications Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, who recently voted to approved the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal.

Following Reel Grrls' Twitter post, a local Comcast vice-president immediately rescinded its annual $18,000 donation to the girls' program. Comcast then apologized, calling it an action by an "unauthorized employee." By then, says Reel Grrls director Mallory Graham, the media had picked up the story and support came pouring in.

"'I'm supporting Reel Grrls.' 'You take a stand.' Y'know, 'Here's my $25.' 'Here's my $10. We really want you to be able to run your summer program even without Comcast support.'"

With the help of such nonprofit organizations as the Center for Media Justice, says Graham, $14,000 has been raised and Comcast's money, for now, has been politely declined. Center for Media Justice Executive Director Malkia Cyril has praise for the Seattle group.

"These young women stood up and said, 'You know what: We're not puppets on a string.'"

Mallory Graham says the stand taken by her group and the response from supporters added up to a real-life "teachable moment" for the group, which instructs girls in filmmaking, screenwriting and other media skills.

"So, with this new support from individual donors, we are going to run our summer program and specifically have the focus be about free speech issues."

Graham says Reel Grrls will be meeting with local Comcast officials in the near future in hopes that the company will want to resume its role as what she calls a “good philanthropy partner.”

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - WA