Monday, January 29, 2007

MEDIA REFORM – IT’S GOOD FOR DEMOCRACY

Media consolidation has been rampant since the 1996 Telecommunications Act was passed. Before this legislation lifted caps on ownership, no single radio corporation could hold more than 65 stations. Today, for example, Clear Channel Communications controls close to 1500. Without caps, these radio conglomerates continue to steamroll local radio, buying up independent outlets, and scrubbing politically divergent commentary from the air.

Boston is a prima facie example. In Dec. 2006, we learned, without warning, that our only progressive talk station was taken down by Clear Channel. So, who owns the media and why is this important for Democracy and, in particular, Democrats?

Radio networks by and large are owned by conservative corporations like: Walt Disney/ABC Radio -72; Clear Channel -1500; and News Corp (Fox). These corporations gain immense influence over what information is made available. As consolidated corporations, they are able to stifle viewpoints, spin the information, and narrow the range of debate nationwide. It is well known that talking points are faxed to conservative radio talk hosts. The networks are not only concerned with profits but with advancing the “right” agenda. Corporate interests are inconsistent with the fair and balanced broadcasting conditions set forth in their FCC license. Moreover, this”public interest” trusteeship is successfully ignored without any accountability.

In 1951, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas said, “Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us”. If radio networks are owned by ultra-conservative groups or corporations that make concerted efforts to restrict programming and limit political viewpoints, then Democracy suffers. To emphasize this point note the enormous disparity between conservative vs. progressive talk radio. During an average week, there are 43,000 hours of conservative talk compared to 3,000 hours of progressive talk programming. 95% of talk radio is conservative. In Boston alone, the line-up of conservative talk programming is staggering, i.e. Rush, Carr, Savage, Severin, Hannity, etc. with no “Truth to Power” progressives to ameliorate the problem. This is not good for Democracy or Democratic efforts to move their important agenda: the Iraq war; healthcare, counting all votes; and so on.

This it is not because progressive talk isn’t successful or in demand. In 2006, it grew by 36% overall and skyrocketed in markets where it was allowed on air, given a decent signal, and afforded some reasonable marketing efforts. But that’s a story for another time. The time has come for Congress to take a long look at the massive, unrestricted consolidation of radio during the last ten years.

No one is predicting the imminent collapse of “Big Media” but the fight may be easier now that Congress is controlled by Democrats. In particular, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) will be in a key position, as Chair of the Telecommunications Committee, along with Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), who has proposed the Media Ownership Reform Act, to hold hearings. In the Senate, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders, longtime allies of media reform, are ready to use newly won seats to help with legislation to advance the reform efforts. These are the important Congressional delegates to contact to express any support for reform.

A grassroots effort has been started in Massachusetts by progressive Democrats. The group, Save_Progressive_Radio_Boston on Yahoo, has three main goals at this time: initiate a public awareness campaign and signature petition at www.bostonprogressivetalk.net; lobby the General Manager of Clear Channel-Boston with email, letters, and calls to reconsider his “business’ decision and bring back our talk radio format; and, identify potential new advertisers for progressive talk radio.

The group is making an appeal to all Massachusetts Democrats to stand up for our political voice and let your preferences be known to Clear Channel. The contact information is:

Michael Crusham
General Manager
WKOX/WXKS
99 Revere Beach Pkwy.
Medford, MA 02155
Phone 781-396-1430
Fax 781-391-3064
michaelcrusham@clearchannel.com


Thank you, Pat O’Leary

4 Comments:

At 9:11 AM, February 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat and Shawn, thanks for mentioning our group! The website is:

http://www.bostonprogressivetalk.net

and contains a petition. Please sign it, since popular pressure has worked in getting these petitions out there. It also contains information about our upcoming meeting (Monday, Feb. 5, 6:30 pm - 8:30 Arlington Public Library - Community Room [2nd floor], 700 Massachusetts Avenue [off Rte 60] Arlington, MA 781-316-3200 www.robbinslibrary.org).

Also, the Yahoo! group address is:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Save_progressive_radio_boston

Shawn, could you please update your post with these links so that more people will see them?

Thanks again, P and S!

 
At 6:57 PM, February 12, 2007, Blogger epictetus said...

I couldn't disagree more -- I think media reform is important but that these kinds of reform are bass-ackwards.

I also think that real estate is more important for massachusetts..

 
At 10:56 PM, October 18, 2007, Blogger thore said...

YOU People in massachusetts ARE FUNNY you have "too men lol" that keep trying to give away your country as we are having A Illegal Invasion.And kennedy tell it good so you go along like sheep why don't you all ask king kennedy why don't all of you in Washington tried to do something unique one time “think of the American people first” before you think of anybody else.
Tell me this do you all want to say come one come all here is the once great USA take it Becuse king kennedy told us it was ok to do.He been in office to long the American people need new people in Washington. It has been so many years that we have not had any representation from our government what all of them seem to have forgotten that they work for the American people not Mexicans or anyone else.

 
At 6:13 PM, December 07, 2008, Anonymous drewby said...

I stumbled upon this post today and had to comment on how convoluded the leftist mind really is. Listen, the facts are the facts. No one wants to listen to liberal radio. Got it? That's why there are no liberal political shows on any of the Boston radio stations. These companies aren't part of the advancement of Conservative ideals. They are in it to make money and that means the shows with the best ratings make the most money. Ratings = advertisers = income, simple right? Then why don't the liberals understand this? I listen to Conservative talk radio everyday. I listen because they make sense and respect the Constitution and the traditions of our country. I, and it seems most other people, have no desire to listen to the blame America first, anti Christian, Pro infanticide, liberla rantings on my radio or tv. It's that simple. What the "fairness doctrine" is, is censorship pure and simple. So now the liberals in Congress want to do away with the one medium that actually gives people info on the what the Congress tries to sneak through on the people. We killed the Amnesty bill because of Conservative talk radio, We killed the Dubai ports legislation because of Conservative talk radio, and there are other examples of this as well. If there are any people reading this that are non biased please ask yourself this question, Why do Liberal democrats want to re establish the "fairness doctrine" and enact locality laws so small stations would have to have local hosts only on air there by costing that station much more money and effectively kill access to syndicated National Conservative radio shows? What do they want you not to see? What issues do they want to slide into law without your knowledge? If there was nothing to hide then the politicians would respect the supply and demand theory here and let the people decided what is on the air. If liberal radio had more listeners then radio stations would air those shows. An example the author never mentions is that the one syndicated liberal radio station that was offered failed miserably and went into bankruptcy. So when is bankruptcy a sign of success?? NO ONE LISTENED!!!! Get it?

Of course there is a compromise here. We will let you re-install the "fairness doctrine" if in return you put the same doctrine in place for the national tv news media and all newspapers nation wide so Conservatives get just as much air time and print space as liberals. Deal? I didn't think so.

 

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