Skip to comments.FCC and Right-Wing Radio Helping U.S. Press Freedom Slip Away (Molly Ivins Alert)
Posted on 02/03/2003 11:51:40 AM PST by GeneD
Now here's a dandy example of the kind of thing that never makes it to the front page or the top of the news broadcast, but that affects absolutely everyone. The Federal Communications Commission, led by Michael ("my religion is the market") Powell, is fixing to remove the last remaining barriers against concentration of media.
This means one company can own all the radio stations, television stations, newspapers and cable systems in any given area. Presently, 10 companies own over 90 percent of the media outlets. Bill Kovach of the Committee of Concerned Journalists and Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism say these are the most sweeping changes in the rules that govern ownership of American media since the 1940s. The ownership rules were put in place after we had seen how totalitarian governments use domination of the media to goad their countries into war.
We already know what happens when the free market zealots remove restrictions on ownership. In 1996, the FCC eliminated its rules on radio ownership. Conglomerates now own hundreds of stations around the country. One company, Clear Channel, owns more than 1,200 stations, and there are 30 percent fewer station owners than there were before 1996. The result is less local news and local programming, since the formats are programmed at headquarters. Clear Channel owns as many as six or seven stations in a market, broadcasting generic country, generic pop, generic oldies, etc.
The fearless investigative television journalism we have all come to expect (an hourlong special on Michael Jackson's face in the works) will not be improved by this move. The FCC is doing this in an almost covert way. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps reports that only under pressure did the commission agree to hold one lone public hearing on it, in Richmond, Va.
A coalition of consumer and media advocacy groups presented a 140-page filing that shows joint ownership of newspaper and broadcast outlets fails to meet the constitutional requirement, set out by the Supreme Court in 1945, that "the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the people."
In 1987, FCC commissioners appointed by Ronald Reagan repealed the Fairness Doctrine, and that has already had a stunning effect on political debate in this country. That same year, Congress put the Fairness Doctrine into law, but Reagan vetoed it with this memorable rationalization, "The Fairness Doctrine is inconsistent with the tradition of independent journalism." The Fairness Doctrine had been upheld by the Supreme Court in a 1969 decision that viewed the airwaves as a "public trust" and said fairness required the public trust to accurately reflect opposing views. In a 1986 decision, the D.C. Federal Court of Appeals in a 2-to-1 decision upheld a new FCC rule refusing to apply the Fairness Doctrine to television text. The two prevailing judges were Antonin Scalia and Robert Bork.
Edward Monks, a lawyer in Eugene, Ore., did a report for the newspaper there last year on the prevalence of right-wing hosts on radio talk shows. "The spectrum of opinion on national political commercial talk radio shows ranges from extreme right wing to very extreme right wing -- there is virtually nothing else." Monks notes the irony that many of these right-wing hosts spend much of their time complaining about "the liberal media."
On the two Eugene talk stations, Monks found: "There are 80 hours per week, more than 4,000 hours per year, programmed for Republican and conservative talk shows, without a single second programmed for a Democratic or liberal perspective. . . . Political opinions expressed on talk radio are approaching the level of uniformity that would normally be achieved only in a totalitarian society. There is nothing fair, balanced or democratic about it."
To point out the obvious, broadcasters and their national advertisers have a clear stake in promoting the views of those who advocate lower taxes on the rich and on big corporations. What is so perfectly loony about the FCC's proposal to unleash yet another round of media concentration is that it is being done in the name of "the free market."
Is the free market not supposed to encourage competition rather than lead to its disappearance? The U.S. now ranks 17th, below Costa Rica and Slovenia, on the worldwide index of press freedom established by the Reporters Without Borders.
Now, there's an unbiased group to make the judgment.
(sarcasm ... off)
In other words, unless your reporting is done in such a manner that no one can tell within which border you're writing your articles or expounding on your radio program, it's slanted and unfair.
Piffle. Molly would only look good with an apple in her mouth, surrounded by potatoes, on top of coals in a hole in the ground. Her inate intelligence is about on par with that level of organism as well.
I wonder where my favorite stations belonging to the "Attila the Hun Broadcasting Network" fall into that range.
In other words, Molly is upset that the conservative point of view is getting out and causing the liberals to lose elections.
A large portion of the AM radio chanells that carry Rush are almost totally dedicated to "local" news and issues. In the 3 cities i have lived in the past 15 years, Rush was carried on the LOCAL news station. And outside of Rush and a couple other syndicated shows the rest of the programming was local.
Further on this issue, wasn't one of the biggest obstacles facing Rush when he started his journey to national greatness that he had to overcome program managers objections to his "national" focus? They all said he would fail because AM radio listeners wanted "local" programming and information.
And this can only happen, as has been proven time and time again, with the free market. What Ms Ivins is advocating of course, is more government control of both content and entry into the market. No single entity could control the "dissemination of information" in a free market because it would be consumer driven. Even if you owned them all, you'd still have to give people what they want.
I would prefer a single, powerful corporate entity any day to a single, powerful government one.
That scenario gave me pause.
That's a great example of what the left fears, but wouldn't come to pass because the retailing of information would be consumer driven. If you don't give the people what they want, they will turn it off. Once again, the left OVERESTIMATES the power of business in a competitive arena.
Mmmmmmmmm, roast suckling donkey.
Yes, she is. But you're going to get flamed anyway!
That said, Ms. Ivins may have a point with respect to business concentrations potentially squeezing out other viewpoints. The rationale for government regulation was to facilitate a diversity of opinions. However, in real life, regulation becomes a tool of those in power. Remember that the "Fairness Doctrine" was used by the Johnson Administration as a club against its conservative opposition, such as H. L. Hunt's subsidized radio shows and the ministry of Rev. Carl McIntyre, a 1960s precursor of the "Christian Right." The "Fairness Doctrine" was not used on the "Big Three" netowrks, as they did not run commentaries, but routinely reported the news from a slanted liberal perspective. From the mid-1960s to the late 1980s, there was essentially a state-sanctioned news cartel with ABC, CBS, and NBC (and, later CNN) disseminating radio and TV news and opinion from a relentlessly liberal standpoint. Opinion shows, such as "Meet the Press," were usually stacked against conservative politicians and commentators. Of course, there was also PBS, to the left of the cartel politically, but state-subsidized. Conservatives were stuck with small circulation magazines and the talents of the Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan, during this 20-plus year period.
Talk radio helped get conservative ideas discussed in places other than small circulation magazines, dinner tables, and (sometimes) the pulpits of evangelical Christian churches. Rest assured the left would like to shut it down, and clamp down on the Internet as well.
The free market is meant to reward those that provide a needed service to the public. Part of its function is to eliminate those suppliers whose products or services are not required by the public e.g. the radio shows of Mario Cuomo and Jim Hightower. It is not the function of the free market to subsidise a section of the market which is not viable.
The government has taken upon itself the (unconstitutional)duty to subsidise those views which would not otherwise be commercially viable viz PBS,NPR etc.
Get a Lone Star Molly and go back in your kennel.
All it takes is for one Ted Turner to buy up all the media and decide to program the useful idiots out there to follow him to the commune.
Competition is good.
This is Ms Ivin's (and the left's) opening salvo in demanding the return of the Fairness Act.
It might be funny if Molly weren't so vicious.
So, a tip of the VRWC hat to Ms Ivins. And, although I abhor profanity, she can jam this column up her.....(sun don't shine?)
"She's absolutely right."--mg39There IS, theoretically, some sense in partitioning the market for broadcast music--multiple stations which don't pretend to compete for the same listening tastes. And I take it that that is the point of ownership of multiple stations in a given market.
Yes, she is. But you're going to get flamed anyway!--CDHart
The real fallacy, of course, is the false distinction between New York Times / NPR style verbal "objective reporting" and "talk radio." Even were "objective reporting" always factual (Gore wins Florida, anyone?) there is no principled way of determining what is important; journalism finesses that problem somewhat by restricting its attention to what attention-grabbing (unusual and, typically, bad) thing happened recently. That the reporter knows of.
What is called "talk radio" is opinion, and pretends to nothing else--which is actually morally superior to journalism unless the journalist actually does know and choose to report the important--not merely the most exciting--information.
But if you think about it, history would be a lot less exciting if journalism actually told us what was important; who knows what all journalism was prattling about in the 1930s when the only really important thing was the opinion of Winston Churchill about Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin.
Wow. I bet they're just as unbiased as Medicins Sans Frontieres... (Doctors Without Borders)
But then, the government created and controls all broadcasting via the FCC. Nothing the FCC does makes any constitutional sense if applied to print.
|One company, Clear Channel, owns more than 1,200 stations
And they bought them up just as satellite-based digital radio was being perfected. Their mistake.
Damn my public school education! I thought the constitution was older than that.
Alright I went back and read it again. What on Earth is she right about?
In a nutshell, this witch wants to use the government to suppress ideas with which she disagrees.
Exactly right. This woman would rather have the government mandate an ideological perspective on the radio waves similar to the one that exists on our college campuses.
You're right, most prefer the PC and deceptive labels of democratic socialist and progressive.
and that conservatives own the truth, we have nothing to discuss.
Nobody owns the truth. It is there or not there. What we argue about are perceptions and perspectives.
That's because brainless morons, "aka", liberals, cannot think for themselves. Radio involves an intimate relationship with the discussion and arguments. It requires analytical computation and cognotive processing. Television, on the other hand, requires you to push buttons on a remote and nod your head in agreement when the "leftist" zealot mashes lies into your eardrum.
I can't foresee a liberal making it on talk radio. You can only say the same rhetoric, without exposing the facts and logical conclusions that stem from them, for so long. It's the "facts" and "logic" that make talk a radio such a hit. The intelligent underground of America is glued to their radio and has unplugged the cadre of newspeak. The liberals are flaming mad about it and I expect a full blown attack on radio in the upcoming years.
That Molly Ivins is a liberal is a factor considering this is the new Demo/liberal talking point.
If you mean concentration of media owenership is potentially dangerous and offers cookie cut-out radio, I can agree with you.
If you think such concentration is what Ivins thinks, that this is a plot to shove "right wing" (just count how many times that phrase is used in the article) ideology on some unsuspecting listeners without any diffferent choices, I suggest you find another site.