Deep Dish TV (DDTV) describes itself as “the first national grassroots satellite network” that seeks to “democratiz[e] media” by “linking independent producers, programmers, community-based activists and viewers who support movements for social change and economic justice.” The network was founded in New York City in 1986 by activist Dee Dee Halleck, to distribute radical videos created by Paper Tiger Television and other producers. Halleck today serves as DDTV’s Waves of Change Project Coordinator.
Halleck’s initial idea—later imitated by Free Speech TV and other left-wing activist broadcasters—was to try to fill empty gaps in the programming schedules of public-access cable-television stations across the United States; i.e., time slots during which nothing was being aired. Those hours, Halleck reasoned, could be devoted to leftist programming via a free satellite channel. Thus did she create DDTV to serve as a radicalizing, organizing, mobilizing tool.
Throughout its history, Deep Dish has worked closely with other left-wing media outlets. For example, it produced the first year of the Democracy Now! television program, hosted by Amy Goodman; it was instrumental in founding the first Independent Media Center (IMC) in Seattle and has worked to enlarge that network to include hubs in Africa, Asia and Latin America; and it continues to distribute videos produced by Paper Tiger Television and branches of IMC. For some time, these linked entities shared office space at 339 Lafayette Street in New York City. Owned by the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute (AJMMI), this building was nicknamed the “Peace Pentagon” and was home also to such organizations as the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, the Nicaragua Network, Not In Our Name, the Raging Grannies, the Socialist Party of New York City, the War Resisters League, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Several of these groups have been lionized on DDTV and Paper Tiger Television. (In 2016, however, AJMMI sold its “Peace Pentagon” to developer Aby Rosen for $20.75 million, and all of the organizations with offices therein had to relocate.)
Throughout the Iraq War, Deep Dish gave extensive, positively slanted exposure to the anti-war movement. Most notably, the network provided live television and Internet coverage of the 2008 Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan hearings, where U.S. veterans convened in Washington, DC to testify against American war crimes. (The event was sponsored by Iraq Veterans Against the War.)
DDTV has also produced a considerable amount of anti-Israel programming, such as Nothing Is Safe: Israel’s 2006 War on Lebanon (broadcast in April 2008). Other Deep Dish shows have called for “transforming Palestine/Israel into a Single State,” a move that would effectively spell the end not only of Israel, but of all personal security for Jews in the Middle East. And in 2011, DDTV collaborated with Fida Qishta, a Palestinian journalist and filmmaker from Gaza, on a movie titled Should the Birds Fly? According to Deep Dish, this film “documents the pain caused by the brutal Israeli occupation” and “the brutal Israeli military control over Gaza.”
DDTV’s 2009 four-part series, DIY Media: Movement Perspectives on Critical Moments, was modeled on the “people’s history” technique of the late historian Howard Zinn, telling “the history of recent social movements” in the United States “from the perspective of participants in those movements.” The series depicts America as a historically racist oppressor nation whose deep-seated injustices have been challenged only by courageous left-wing activists who “have sought equal rights for gays and lesbians; waged campaigns for environmental justice; struggled to curb corporate power; and fought against unjust, destructive U.S. foreign policy in Latin America.”
Uprooted: A Grassroots Examination of the Politics of Migration is a DDTV initiative that derides the “corporate media” for reducing the immigration debate to “a false contest between human and civil rights versus security.” Further, Uprooted showcases “inspiring and moving portraits of those most affected by U.S. immigration policies”; aims to “debunk the nativist mythologies that fuel the rhetorical engine of the right-wing pundits”; and collaborates with such ideological allies as Alwan for the Arts, Dream Act organizers, Feet in 2 Worlds, the Global Workers Justice Alliance, PanLeft, Presente, the Puente Movement, and Voices in Exile.
DDTV’s programs are shown today on more than 200 public-access cable stations across the United States, as well as on selected PBS stations and satellite-dish stations like Free Speech TV and LinkTV. Deep Dish also seeks to reach student and community groups by screening and distributing DVD copies of its programs.
In the fall of 2011, DDTV supported the newly formed Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. One pro-OWS feature on the DDTV website, titled “Capitalism Makes Me Sick,” depicts free-market economics as a “corrosive” system founded on “dirty, filthy, illusory money”—and as a breeding ground for physical and psychological pathology.
DDTV has received funding from numerous charitable foundations, including the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, the Caipirinha Foundation, the Funding Exchange, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the New World Foundation, the Peace Development Fund, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Samuel Rubin Foundation, the Threshold Foundation, and the Tides Foundation. DDTV is also supported by Cultures of Resistance.
For a complete list of DDTV funders, click here.