If you believe that we need a free and independent media in the United States, we need you to send an email to Congress right now telling them so. Go to www.mediareform.net now, or stay here and let us explain.
On June 2, big money special interests and the Federal Communications Commission plan to further relax or eliminate the remaining significant media ownership laws. They call it "deregulation," but it is no such thing. It is actually "re-regulation," such that all the choice radio and TV licenses can go to fewer and fewer massive firms, and these firms can buy up far more newspapers and cable TV systems and channels than was ever possible in the past. If you like what has happened to radio since its ownership rules were scrapped in 1996, you'll love what is about to happen in the rest of the U.S. media. It can get worse. Much worse.
The majority of the FCC members are under the thumb of the massive media conglomerates that are demanding these changes so they can get bigger and face less competition. They are working to rush these changes through without any public involvement.
The AFL-CIO, Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America and leading religious and civil rights groups have argued that the changes go too far. Yet, polls show that most Americans do not know that the FCC is preparing to dramatically shift the landscape of American media, journalism and democracy.
Only concerted effort on our part can stop the FCC.
In the next few weeks, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee will hold crucial hearings on the proposed deregulation.
Public comments will determine whether or not Congress allows Big Media to have their way.
Please go to www.mediareform.net. One click will send your message to Congress and the FCC demanding they preserve current media ownership rules for the sake of a diverse, independent, and competitive media.
If we lose this fight, the likely stampede of mergers will give a handful of large corporations greater influence over what is-- and is not -- reported in the news. The quality of media will get even worse as the public's ability to have open, informed discussion with a wide variety of viewpoints declines, eroding the foundations of our democracy.
No matter what your issue, media reform is integral to it. As they say, You control the news, you control the views.
Finally, please send this message to everyone you think might be interested via email. We can win this fight.
Bob McChesney & John Nichols
PS -- Free Press is a new group we co-founded. It is a national organization working to increase informed public participation in crucial media policy debates, and generate a range of policies that will produce a more competitive and public interest-oriented media system. For more information, please contact Free Press: email@example.com or call toll free 866-666-1533 www.mediareform.net
To anyone who ever thought that newspapers and television and radio stations are profit-driven servants of the huge corporations that control many of them, now's your chance to say so on record.
Philadelphia-based activist groups Prometheus Radio Project and Media Tank are encouraging people to speak out to federal regulators about the media and whether it's a wise idea to allow more media mergers as a Jan. 2 deadline for public comments draws near....
Various commission officials have pointed out that the current media ownership regulations were made decades ago, when there were but three television networks and alternative information sources such as the Internet did not exist. Therefore, the officials have reasoned, it is time to see whether those old rules still apply in today's multimedia, information-soaked world.
But activists and consumer advocates warn that there could be dangers in changing some of those rules. They say that allowing media conglomerates - such as Viacom Inc., General Electric Co., Walt Disney Co. and News Corp. - to own even more properties could lead to blander programming and an unwillingness to cover news that parent companies or their affiliates might find unflattering.
Nice article from Canada on issues with digitial radio broadcasting.
Digital radio or digital audio broadcasting (DAB) has had a brief and troubled history. DAB was first developed with an eye to commercial use in the late 1980s. Via a digital radio technology called Eureka 147, broadcasters can transmit a complex signal with many potential applications, not the least of which is a crystal-clear sound. As CD-quality music plays, a radio display will show the song title and artist. Press a button and you can order the CD. Press another and you can order concert tickets. Stations can be personalized according to a listener's needs with the latest weather, traffic or stock market quotes available upon request...
While Europe's major broadcasters embraced Eureka 147, it was a very different story in the United States. Concern that a new dedicated digital band would undermine the value of FM stations prompted the United States to support a made-in-America compromise called IBOC (in band/on channel). The IBOC plan requires no new spectrum and squeezes new digital signals within the existing FM and AM radio bands. IBOC, recently rechristened HD Radio, was approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in October and has the support of 14 of the country's top 20 radio broadcasters.
HD Radio has been met with much hostility by Canadian supporters of Eureka 147. They claim the U.S. plan will mean an inferior digital radio signal for the world's largest commercial audience.
"You're left with the conclusion why did they [U.S. broadcasters] bother? They ended up with a system that isn't particularly useful," says Steve Edwards, vice-president of corporate engineering and technology at Rogers Media, a unit of Toronto holding company Rogers Communications Inc.
More important, HD Radio has created a major stumbling block for the growth of Eureka 147. The two formats are not compatible and require separate digital receivers....
Supporters are quick to compare digital radio's slow birth to FM, a band that took about 30 years to capture the public's imagination.
source: The Coloradoan.com
New voices will join the public airways in 2003 as KRFC brings community public radio back to the city... KRFC will be a commercial-free, grassroots public radio station, meaning it will be run and staffed mostly by volunteers, and be heard in Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland... Radio Fort Collins, which will broadcast at 88.9 on the FM dial, has about 100 active volunteers taking care of programming, construction and a host of other concerns, Krush said... KRFC returns community radio to the city, lost in 1995 when KCSU was turned over to students at Colorado State University... When KRFC goes on the air, it will be the culmination of nearly nine years of work by a handful of volunteers to win a coveted FM license from the FCC.
source: newsday.com | UPI
Big City Radio Inc., continuing a move to liquidate assets, said yesterday it agreed to sell its four New York radio stations to Nassau Broadcasting Holdings Inc. for $43 million. They are: WYNY-FM, WWZY-FM, WWXY-FM and WWYY-FM.
source: Washington Post
The radio revolution sounded like it would be a blast. Real power-to-the-people stuff.
Thousands rushed to apply for licenses to run tiny, 100-watt community radio stations two years ago during a moment of federal government largess. Everyone from religious fundamentalists to nature lovers to Cajun accordion aficionados hoped to take back pieces of the airwaves from corporate giants. They dreamed of preaching the Gospel or railing against pollution or spreading the magic of zydeco rhythms.
But something happened on the way to community-radio nirvana. Something like reality...
source: Washington Post
A federal appeals court yesterday nullified two long-standing government rules limiting the size of the world's largest media companies, opening the door to a new wave of mergers among cable television conglomerates and broadcast companies.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia invalidated a Federal Communications Commission regulation that had prevented one company from owning TV stations and cable franchises in the same market. The court also ruled that the FCC had acted arbitrarily in limiting the number of television stations that a single company can own.
source: R&R Online
Klaus Kramer was penalized $9,500 for "willful and repeated violations" of its rules against pirate broadcasting. The commission says Kramer operated an illegal radio station in February 2001, and while Kramer acknowledged the violation, he believed the fine was excessive. The FCC denied his appeal, pointing out that it caught Kramer operating a station illegally on two other occasions - in March 1998 and October 1999 - and on at least one occasion he stated that the violations would not be repeated.
Pacifica may LMA out its San Francisco-market KPFA (94.1). This could create mayhem in KPFA's hometown of Berkeley, where street protests are part of everyday life. There've been rumors about non-commercial Pacifica selling KPFA, which has a Class B commercial-band signal at 94.1.
source: R&R Online
The commission will introduce the proposal at Thursday's open meeting, seeking the public's input on whether it should launch an examination of its local radio ownership rules. This comes after Chairman Michael Powell created a working group within the FCC charged with studying and gathering information on the current media landscape. Powell has recently criticized the FCC's current media rules for being "dated."
source: Washington Business Forward
The fact is that underneath its quirky, bohemian image, NPR - which by its own estimation is the biggest producer of news, information and cultural programming in radio - subtly has evolved into something that in many ways resembles a well-run, aggressively entrepreneurial company. Granted, if NPR, which employs about 600 people in the Washington area, were a private company, it would be a fairly humble player in the media business. The network and its sister organization, the NPR Foundation, together are projected to generate about $144 million in revenue this fiscal year - spare change compared to the $4 billion garnered annually by Clear Channel, commercial radio's big Kahuna.
source: Texas Monthly
If you have never heard of a San Antonio company called Clear Channel Communications, it's because you aren't listening. From its unlikely nerve center in south-central Texas, this once modest, family-run owner of a handful of radio and television stations has exploded into a media giant, dominating radio like no single entity ever has before. Unleashed by government deregulation in 1996, founder Lowry Mays shelled out billions for properties like Jacor Communications and Tom Hicks's AMFM, formerly the biggest radio conglomerate in the country. Today one of every ten commercial radio stations in the United States belongs to Clear Channel-including six stations in Dallas-Fort Worth, eight stations in Houston, seven stations in San Antonio, six stations in Austin, six in El Paso-a total of more than 1,200 domestic channels in some 250 markets. Its closest rival, Cumulus Broadcasting, has 240 stations.....
All of this may sound like harmless, run-of-the-mill media giantism in the early twenty-first century. Unfortunately it's not, especially the way the Mays family-Lowry and his sons, Mark and Randall, the company's iron triangle-plays the game. In fact, they give new meaning to the phrase "control of the airwaves." Their size and aggressiveness have given them unprecedented say not only over what you hear on the radio all over the country but in how music is sold, promoted, and performed. As the big guys on the block-who dictate programming at 1,200 stations they are more responsible than anyone else for the cookie-cutter state of radio, where more and more stations sound the same, no matter where you go.
source: SF Chronicle
A controversial leader has left Pacifica Radio, a move that some see as a step toward bringing calm to the chaos surrounding the left-leaning radio network.
Bessie Wash resigned as executive director of Washington, D.C.'s Pacifica yesterday, said board chairman Robert Farrell. But an outside group, Savepacifica.net, said Farrell fired Wash. Wash was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Wash and other leaders of Pacifica, the parent of Berkeley's liberal KPFA-FM, have been at the center of conflicts with member stations, staff and outspoken listeners over programming, the firing of employees, and the network's future. (see story link for more)
source: R&R Online
"The basis and form of media regulation is in dire need of being reinitialized," the FCC Chairman said at a press conference this morning. In announcing that the commission is planning a "full and comprehensive" examination of the mass-media marketplace and the Telecom Act, it sounded as though Powell may be ready to redraw some of the FCC's mass-media rules. "Much of the regulatory structure and analytical foundations that exist today were built around TV and radio as it existed in the golden age," he said. "The current rules, standards and principles do not take any account of very dramatic changes in the media landscape." Powell also noted that the FCC needs to re-evaluate its diversity policies: "Diversity does remain a vital objective, but the instruments for preserving it have to be reconsidered."
October 19, 2001: Pacifica Foundation officers have told KPFA management that the organization is out of money, having spent over two million dollars over the past three years on corporate law firms, security services, and public relations agencies. KPFA now has over $100,000 in unpaid and overdue bills, including $9,400 to PG&E for electricity. The station may go off the air if the PG&E bill is not paid by Monday, Oct. 22. Pacifica has also ordered KPFA to undertake an immediate on-air fundraising drive, and has threatened to send in scab broadcasters to do on-air fundraising should KPFA staff refuse. AN EMERGENCY FUND RAISING CAMPAIGN HAS BEEN UNDERTAKEN BY FRIENDS OF FREE SPEECH RADIO TO KEEP KPFA ON THE AIR, AND PAY ITS MOST URGENT BILLS! (see story link for more)