Skip to comments.Out Of Control (Slick Willie Barf Alert)
Posted on 06/29/2003 7:29:39 AM PDT by paul in cape
If it's allowed to stand, an FCC ruling will feed media merger mania
BY BILL CLINTON
"It's your money," says President Bush when he promotes tax cuts. I disagree with his tax policy but admire his spin. The same argument applies with greater force to whether big media conglomerates should be allowed to control more television and radio stations: "It's your airwaves."
The American people own the bandwidth that broadcast media companies use to deliver programs to our TV and radio sets. Because the space on that bandwidth is limited, the Federal Communications Commission regulates who has access to our eyes and ears.
For more than 60 years, the FCC allowed companies to own a number of local TV stations, provided that no single company owned enough to reach more than 35% of the population of the United States.
But on June 2, by a 3-to-2 vote, the FCC raised the limit to 45%, giving big media firms the chance to gobble up many more local TV stations. In fact, a single giant corporation will be able to control up to three of the television stations in America's nine largest cities.
The FCC also opened the door to local TV-newspaper mergers in many places, so you'll be getting your news and information from the same company regardless of whether you're turning on the TV or opening the newspaper.
Why is this bad? Because more monolithic control over local media will reduce the diversity of information, opinion and entertainment people get. Interesting local coverage will be supplanted by lowest-common-denominator mass-market mush.
But don't cable TV and the Internet give people more sources of information? In theory, yes. In practice, not necessarily. Big media firms own most of the cable networks and supply much of the content for major Internet sites.
Is this another Democrat vs. Republican battle? Is my concern motivated by the growing influence of right-wing voices in the broadcast media?
While it's true the FCC vote split along party lines - Republicans for looser standards, Democrats against - and while I have noticed the conservative slant in more media organizations these days, the debate over media ownership is not a partisan one.
Organizations from the National Organization for Women to the National Rifle Association have spoken out against what the FCC decided to do. More than 750,000 Americans of all political persuasions registered their opinion of the new rules with the FCC, and nearly 100% of them were opposed!
The lack of diversity and independence in the broadcast media may be why you didn't hear much about this big issue on TV or radio in recent months.
But the opposition is truly a grass-roots movement, and it won't go away, even if it's not on the evening news. And the voice of the people is beginning to be heard, at least on Capitol Hill.
The Senate Commerce Committee acted quickly after the FCC vote to approve legislation - on a bipartisan basis - that would reinstate more sensible media ownership rules.
Although Republicans as well as Democrats oppose the FCC decision, it's unclear whether the Commerce Committee legislation can pass in the full Senate - or in the House of Representatives.
The FCC ruling also faces challenges in the courts. But there is no guarantee the commission's error will be corrected anytime soon.
Therefore, Congress is our best hope. Whatever your political philosophy, if you favor competition and diversity in the media, you should call, write or E-mail your senators and representatives.
The stakes are high. "At issue," says FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, "is whether a few corporations will be ceded enhanced gatekeeper control over the civil dialogue of our country; more content control over our music, entertainment and information, and veto power over the majority of what our families watch, hear and read."
People joke about my liking McDonald's, and I do. But actually I prefer to go down to Lange's Deli, a great family establishment, near my house.
In the brave new world being defined by the FCC, there will be more McMedia on our airwaves and far fewer broadcast equivalents of our favorite local diners.
Unlike restaurants, the airwaves belong to us. We shouldn't give up our right to have more choice.
Published Saturday, but I must have missed His Stickiness.
I can only wonder how much he got paid for saying that...
Don't broadcasting companies make profits by responding to what the public demands?
Bill Clinton seems to be saying "Its your airways. Let government control them so there can be lots of choices and less of what you actually want to see and hear."
Congress is our best hope
I haven't followed this whole case, but from what I remember from the hearings, all the FCC is doing is writing the regulations to implement what Congress has already passed into law. The media is spinning this as a rogue right-wing agency off closing down free speach. Congress is the responsible party.
Ouch! Now, THAT was REALLY snipe-y and cruel; I like you! :D
Translation: It is your remote control. The liberal democrap agenda of the lamestream media caused you to vote them out of your living room. They lost and continue to lose millions of audience, and consolidation was inevitable.
FIGHT CLUB: FURIOUS CLINTON ORDERS REPORTER BANNED AFTER GRILLING!
DRUDGE REPORT TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 1999 17:09:42 ET
A furious President Clinton has ordered a Washington reporter banned from the White House, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned, after the reporter quizzed the president during a press picnic about illegal money from China and the campaign-finance scandal!
Paul Sperry, Washington bureau chief of INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY, was thrown off the invite list at the White House after he grilled the president for more than 10 minutes about various political scandals.
"It turned into a real shout match on the south lawn," one eyewitness told the DRUDGE REPORT.
At one point during the argument, President Clinton put his hands up to both sides of his head, wiggled them, rolled his eyes and gave Sperry a funny face.
"Make sure that guy never gets close to me again!" the president ordered one of his aides after the showdown.
White House press secretary Joe Lockhart, angry that Sperry transformed a family picnic into a confrontational press conference, told an associate that Sperry is a "Class A s**thead."
Lockhart personally informed Sperry during a phone conversation late Monday that he would never be invited back to the White House.
"The only regret we have is inviting you -- and we won't make that mistake again," Lockhart warned Sperry.
It began innocently enough.
"When are you going to have your next formal press conference, Mr. President?" Sperry casually asked Clinton while he was shaking hands and socializing with reporter and their families.
Clinton: "I don't know. I'll have one."
The president replied, "Why?"
Sperry: "The American people have a lot of unanswered questions."
Clinton: "Like what!"
Sperry: "Questions about illegal money from China and the campaign-finance scandal."
It was at that point that Clinton started to become unglued.
"Who are you with?" Clinton demanded to know.
"I don't like your accusatory tone. It sounds like you've already got the story written."
Sperry gave the president his business card and said that the public wanted answers about the allegations of illegal contributions from China.
Clinton: "I've been all around this country, and you are the first person to ask me about it. Not one person has brought that up... You want to know the only person who has been linked to money from China? Haley Barbour and the RNC, that's who!"
A red-faced Clinton began to rant about Waco, Republicans, the FBI and gun control.
Pictures taken by a newspaper photographer show Clinton wagging his finger in Sperry's face, Washington's version of THE FIGHT CLUB.
Sperry says he was stunned and "woozy" for hours after.
When asked on Tuesday if he felt intimidated during his one-on-one with the most powerful man in the world, Sperry said: "No, he's only about a half an inch taller than I am."