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The Net @ Risk: Big, Bigger, Biggest Media

Do you think that media consolidation is a problem?

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Backgrounder: Big and Bigger Media
Media ownership rules are again a topic of debate on Capitol Hill, as the rules come up for a review and Republican Kevin Martin undergoes hearings to reconfirm him as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Senator Barbara Boxer grilled Martin about an FCC study on local media ownership, which found local reporting decreased markedly after the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In 1984, the number of companies owning controlling interests in America's media was 50 — today that number is six. Critics of media consolidation say it has led to fewer and fewer voices being heard — and a marked decrease in local news coverage. Some media watchers are worried that the much touted "free for all" of the Internet will go the same way. Proponents of "net neutrality" worry that the cable and telecom companies providing the bulk of Internet connectivity will use new fee structures, which may favor some content providers over others. Phone and cable companies have a near monopoly over Internet service. More precisely, it's a 'duopoly' - which means that in more than 90 percent of American homes in the U.S… [more]

Class Is in Session...
In 1941, the federal government regulated the ownership of media outlets to ensure a broad spectrum of opinion. The Local Radio Ownership Rule, National TV Ownership Rule stated that a broadcaster cannot own television stations that reach more than 35% of the nation's homes. Many other regulations followed as the American media landscape changed. In the 1980s the climate changed in the U.S. -- fewer federal regulations became the order of the day under President Reagan. (View a timeline of media regulation.)

Then came the Telecommunications Act of 1996, signed into law by President Clinton. It is generally regarded as the most important legislation regulating media ownership in over a decade. The radio industry experienced unprecedented consolidation after the 40-station ownership cap was lifted. Clear Channel Communications now owns 1200 stations, in all 50 states, reaching, according to their Web site, more than 110 million listeners every week. Viacom's Infinity radio network holds more than 180 radio stations in 41 markets. Its holdings are concentrated in the 50 largest radio markets in the United States. In 1999, Infinity owned and operated six of the nation's Top 10 radio stations.Who Owns the Media?



Then in 2003 ownership limits came up for review again -- media companies wanted ownership rules relaxed further. Among the proposed changes: allowing greater cross-ownership in media markets (newspapers and broadcast stations, radio and television stations) and caps on television and radio stations ownership raised in large markets. In addition, the FCC proposed that a single entity could own television stations reaching up to 45 percent of the national viewership, an increase from 35 percent.

Watch the video: Barry Diller

In 2003, Barry Diller, the man who created Fox Broadcasting and ran ABC Entertainment, Paramount, Vivendi Universal, spoke out against the rule changes to an industry group - and to Bill Moyers. (Diller is currently chairman and CEO of USA Interactive, itself an empire of informational services from the Home Shopping Network to Ticketmaster.)

What about the fairness doctrine?

Critics of consolidation fear that the fewer the owners the fewer the voices on the airwaves. Several recent cases -- among them Sinclair Broadcasting's decision not black out names and faces in an episode of NIGHTLINE which listed the names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq - have media watchers saying conglomerates have too much power over the message heard.

The Communications Act of 1934, as amended, called for stations to offer "equal opportunity" to all legally qualified political candidates running for office. In 1949, the FCC adopted the "fairness doctrine," a policy that viewed station licensees as "public trustees" and, as such, responsible for addressing controversial issues of public importance. The key requirement was that stations allowed opportunity for discussion of contrasting points of view on these issues.

By the 1980s, many stations saw the FCC rules as an unnecessary burden. Some journalists considered the fairness doctrine a violation of the First Amendment rights of free speech and free press; they felt reporters should be able to make their own decisions about balancing stories. In order to avoid the requirement of presenting contrasting viewpoints, some journalists chose not to cover certain controversial issues at all. In addition, the political climate of the Reagan administration favored deregulation. When the fairness doctrine came before the courts in 1987, they decided that since Congress did not mandate the doctrine, it did not have to be enforced.

(You can also see how the major news stations prioritize the news by visiting the Tyndall Report. Andrew Tyndall has watched the major broadcasts for six years.)

What happens to local media?

Another key worry surrounding media consolidation is that as ownership of newspapers, radio and television stations are concentrated in fewer hands - a vital connection to the local community is lost. NOW WITH BILL MOYERS and correspondent Rick Karr told a cautionary tale about the risks of media consolidation to local communities.

The story, broadcast in April 2003, starts in Minot, North Dakota where a train derailment spilled two hundred and ten thousand gallons of ammonia and a toxic cloud. Authorities wanted to get the word out to Minot residents: stay indoors and avoid the area near the derailment. So they tried to get in touch with six local commercial radio stations.

Watch the video

All six of those commercial stations — out of a total of seven in Minot — were owned by one huge radio and advertising conglomerate: Clear Channel Communications and had replaced live local programs with shows recorded in far-off studios that only sound local.

But what does this mean for the internet?

Lots of lobbying and advertising money is being spent on net neutrality and ownership rules in DC. In 2006, the FCC approved the sale of substantially all of the cable systems and assets of Adelphia Communications Corporation to Time Warner Inc. and Comcast Corporation. And, in July 21, 2006, BellSouth shareholders approved the $67 billion sale of the company to AT&T, which would further expand the latter company's reach in the telecommunications sector and place Cingular under a single owner.

In addition, the Supreme Court ruling on the Brand X case put cable modem service providers in the class of information provides, not telecommunication service providers - which come under fewer regulations - and are not bound by common carriage rules. At the bottom of the ruling? Cable broadband providers don't have to share their lines with competitors. A ruling which some say will further hamper the spread of high-speed service throughout the nation. (See more on the new digital divide.)

Discussion

  • Do you think that media consolidation is a problem?

  • Do you feel like you get enough local news coverage?

  • Do you know who owns your local media outlets?
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Comments

Do you think that media consolidation is a problem?


Do you feel like you get enough local news coverage?


Do you know who owns your local media outlets?

I have been seeing the media buy up as a problem since the 2003 debates when Kucinich was absolutely blacked out!! There was so little talk of him most people knew nothing about him at all. And there are so many other things that are blacked out, like the huge outpouring of people who wished to avoid war, before troops were sent into Iraq, and the candlelight vigils held around the world were hardly noticed. THe incredible blackout of news about the people who disagree and are willing to march in disagreement -- nothing or so little it can't be seen. We need the local ownership back again. Where the people can have an impact on the news.

I don't see media consolidation as a problem. I know a little about world history, so when the last liberal talk show host went off the radio in my area, I bought a shortwave radio and listened to the BBC and to the Canadian and Australian Broadcasting Companies. I immediately recognized that I was behind a media Iron Curtain, and I remembered what Soviet citizens had done in a similar situation.

So no, I don't see media consolidation as a problem. I see it as an obscenity, and as totally incompatible with freedom and democracy.

Media consolidation is a huge problem. I can't listen to music on the radio anymore since it's always the same songs over and over. Television news is commercial laden, coverage of anything meaningful is practically nonexistent, and most of it is pablum meant to titillate. You'll never find an indepth report. One family owns the local paper and a television station as well as a couple of radio stations. The other two TV stations are owned by conglomerates. Regardless, it's the same garbage on all of them: "Coming up, we'll show you the dangers of staring at a computer monitor for hours on end." PBS, NPR and a multitude of web sites are my lifeline.

I find the consolidation of the media a big loss for democracy and freedom. If the internet is taken too, the American people will have no way of finding out what is really happening.
I believe the Bush administration is mostly corrupt and it appears they do not even realize it. It appears they think it is their right to look after their own selfish interests regardless of who is harmed even to death. Ethics committees need to be honestly implemented before it is too late. The Democrats need to stand up to the Republicans liars. I applaud President Clinton for fighting back against their lies. Betty Gaiser

The media (MSM)is the CORPORATIONS. They have successfully day after day told us that this administration is at 32 -40% approval for the past year and congress is at 75% disapproval and this election is so close that the republicans are rallying their base. There is no talk about the independents, undecided, nor the swing woters. The republican base cannot be more then the 33% - 40% that continue to support Bush for this past year!
THE MEDIA DOES NOT WANT THE 60%+ TO REALIZE THAT WE ARE THE MAJORITY AND ARE NO LONGER SUPPORTING THIS ADMINISTRATION NOR THIS CONGRESS.

THEY HAVE TO CONVENINCE US THE VOTE WILL BE CLOSE IN ORDER TO HAVE THE REPUBLICANS WIN BY THE 1%. WITH THESE NEW VOTING SYSTEMS. DO YOU HONESTLY BELIEVE THAT THEY HAVE SO SUCCESSFULLY PLANNED FOR OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS TO TAKE POWER THAT THEY WOULD NOT SECURE THE VOTING ISSUE. THAT THEY WOULD JEOPORDISE ALL THIS MONEY AND POWER TO ONE MAN ONE VOTE. I DONT THINK THEY FORGOT TO TAKE CARE OF THAT SMALL DETAIL.

WE CAN OVERCOME WITH A PEACEFUL NATIONAL RALLY THAT WE WANT OUR COUNTRY BACK!

THE ONLY HOPE WE HAVE IS TO OVERWHELM THEM AND VOTE IN MASS ON ELECTION DAY. IT IS TO THEIR ADVANTAGE TO SUPPRESS THE TURN OUT AND TO DISCOURAGE US. EVEN THE "BORN AGAIN'S" ARE DISCOURGED WITH THIS PRESENT CONGRESS AND ADMINISTRATION.

WE MUST UNITE IN THE STREETS WE CANNOT BE THE FIRST GENERATION TO LEAVE A WORSE WORLD THEN WHAT WAS LEFT TO US. - WE MUST TURN THIS CONGRESS OUT AND INSIST WITH THE NEXT CONGRESS ON PUBLIC FINANCING. WE HAVE TO STAND AND BE COUNTED.

Yes concentration of media is a real problem and having so few real sources of informaion for such a large population is indicative either of the type of government or the economique level of population. Maybe in the case of the US it starts to be both.
The very problem is how poor the information has become: where are the plurality of views, where are the investigative reports, where are the columnists that really make you think.... this is disapearing in front of our very eyes...We need to give up our cable subscriptions, stop bying news papers.....stop feeding this type of infomedia.

Only an accurately informed constituency can vote its' conscience and beliefs. I have watched the American public being being fed "information" that would lead a sane, reasonable people to vote in a certain way, but the "data" they were working from has, over and over, led the American public to vote in way they would never consider if they had the true facts. This is a great wrong that obviates the reason for voting entirely.

Even though it isn't official, the media has become the foundation of American democracy in some ways, and MUST be protected. Instead, true journalists are sidelined one way or another, and we are left trying to make vital decisions on false or missing information. The government and the wealthy - too often the same thing - have made themselves the enemy, and citizens have almost no defense.

This MUST be changed. Perhaps an old-fashioned "Journalists Guild", stressing honor and honesty, and with TEETH that allows them to protect their own, would be an answer.

Ian

Unfortunatley the Telecommuniations Act of 1996 was a major mistake, and if nothing else it just demonstrates that regulation is a necessity when in comes to the public interest. Propandizing citizens which is supposdly illegal in this country is sadly rampant. Once respected news networks turn into infotainment, and lose their will to ask the hard questions of political figures. Our attention is diverted to 10 year old murder cases or runaway brides. Rates are rising and quite frankly who needs four weather channels? Originally I had c-span2 and 3, AND they've been bounced up to another pay tier.

The best part is that when you mix media consolidation with no net neutrality, the public is left in the dark -- which is exactly how the government wants things.

The FCC has voted for Big Business since Powell. All have forgotten that the airwaves that the FCC auctions off for billions are PUBLIC airwaves - and the companies that use those airwaves have a public responsibility.

Our citizens have become complacent and jaded. We don't believe our vote counts any more. GET OUT AND VOTE! REGISTER TODAY!

Question 1: Yes
Read "Into the Buzzsaw" by Kristina Borjesson

Question 2: No
It gives us to much irrelevant news and not enough vital news. 30 second sounds bites does not provide the details needed to be informed

Question 3: Yes
What are the options?

Watch and support LinkTV and Free Speech TV
Watch "Democracy Now" for more informative news information

This is BIG BROTHER at it's best.We are systematically being Dumbed-Down as a Nation;through our media, our schools, and our government.What we our doing to ourselves is far more frightening than any
"axis of evil".

Not only are we getting "sifted news", on all fronts, but we get it in two second "updates" to be expounded on later only to find the same information said again with little more added. It is neurotic!
There is very little news in America any more. I go to the foriegn webs to get some depth.
I live in a remote area and never get the weather of this area due to consolidations. Its not covered. Even the weather channel...nothing. And living at a higher altitude, our weather is so much more severe and unpredictable!
With consolidation, they have cut the number of news reporter jobs so that only a few or even one person gets a piece of a story, then we hear that peice over and over and over....until we just turn the TV/radio off! They jump to assumptions, and lead us to deadly conclusions. It is awful. Totally aweful. The consolidated media has made people believe that the Muslum religion is evil which is so far from the truth...just to name one! And people now hate Muslums because of the media! So the news media is now a weapon of mass destruction.
I don't watch it, read it or listen to American news. Our freedom of speach is on fagile ground. If internet goes this way. I will never go on it again! Simple. I do not buy into greed! I cherish our Constitution, but I guess others don't!

Media consolidation in television and radio could not occur so grossly out of proportion if it were not for the FCC licensing MONOPOLIES on colors of light, and thus creating massive barriers to entry for market competition.

The solution is not to impose more rules of media consolidation... they learn to synergize anyway. (Ever notice how ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX all show commercials at the exact same time now?)

The solution is to ABOLISH THE FCC and let Free Entry create the market competition for independent voices that so many people here say they wish to hear!

Please read The Myth of Interference by David Reed:
http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2003/03/12/spectrum/

Yes, consolidation is a really, really bad problem. There is less competition and, therefore less creativity and devotion to truth. I have a brother who has been in TV news on the local level for about 30 years. He's won 9 emmys, an Edward R. Murrow and an Iris Award. Problem? Can't get a job - he's 53 (but doesn't look it). He's had News Directors who believed there was a connection between Saddam and 9/11, all eveidence to the contrary. And he's had younger reporters who admitted that they not only did not watch TV, but never read a nbewspaper.
What local tv hires now are "personalities" not journalists. And the content is being decided by people with no interest in journalism, only ratings. Here's how one story was teased recently - "What happens when a tree falls on your car? Coming up next, we'll tell you!"
Lord, give me a break. The media is here as a form of checks and balances for those ruining this country. When they are in collusion, then The People don't get the truth and, therefore, have great difficulty in undertstanding the serious probnlems we face as a nation.
(Thank God for Bill Moyers!)

What can we do? Will supporting local PBS and lobbying our representatives on net neutrality make a difference? Lance Irby

Lance:

Choosing to help finance your local PBS station may help in an ancillary way.

However, if you're going to lobby your representatives, it should be to dismantle the FCC in the same way that the CAB was dismantled in 1978.

Without the FCC, ANYONE will have Free Entry competition with alternative voices against ClearChannel and NewsCorp -- just like bloggers do now on the world wide web.

media monopoly means we all live in the fantasy world of obscenely wealthy white supremacists-who now want us to believe they can torture or kill us at will for not being docile or white enough.
and you don't get the local country music and r&b shows on the weekend, either, thus there is a lack gristle and sinew in folk music these days-nowhere to pay the dues.

Americans' access to accurate information has been consistently undermined in recent years by the government's ideological bullying of media, its distortion and outright suppression of facts, termination of the "equal time" rule and concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few, who hold far too much power. Even public television has been under such steady assault that I wish PBS would refuse government funds in order to maintain independence.

Our only remaining protections -- both of them now precarious -- are the rule against cross-ownership (that keeps major players from taking over both print and broadcast media in a given community) and neutrality of the Internet, our only medium that can fairly be called uncorrupted.

The founders of this country enshrined freedom of the press as one of our highest principles, knowing that democracy depends on it. Tyrants can flourish only when they control the flow of news and opinion. Nothing matters more to America's future than saving what's left of our media freedom and encouraging more.

Our PBS station (KVIE) now keeps its logo onscreen during all programs, so I won't be able to watch this show. I stopped supporting KVIE financially when they started this practice- this makes them no better than the commercial broadcasters. If the FCC were doing its job they would have banned this practice a long time ago.

Big media and resulting "bought and paid for" legislators must be held at bay on this internet issue. If media gains control over what information is available from the net - paid for or not - what is left of democracy will surely be lost for sure!

Most of us remember the consolidation of the telephone system, the railroads and the airlines....none of which ended up the way the FCC has said they would, and it most certainly was not for the better of the majority - but the few...Look at the scandals happening because of the lobbyist...another mistake - again to the advantage of a few..History has proven it dose not work -

The real issue is, do you trust the huge Service Providers to be Gatekeepers against pedifilia, terrorism, and hate crimes commited and posted on the internet. I for one do not. If we hand over the keys to the Service Providers we will kill off the progress we have made in so many other areas that the net result will be the one sided blandness that we get from most media today. Worse yet it won't solve the problems that the legislation is trying to solve. Keep the internet free and work on a multinational solution to the human rights issues of pedifilia, hate, and terror post that are the key problems.

The fact that most of the nation was completely unaware that the FCC was busily deregulating media rules is a prime example of why media consolidation is a problem. The media owners didn't want the American Public to know about the deregulation so they were quiet until the very end, when it was already too late to get the FCC to stop it's plans. I participated in the largest demonstration in the history of the nation in April of 2004, with 1.2 Million others in the Women's March. The only media present all day was CSPAN - the Administration didn't want the public aware of the demonstration and the media corporations obliged. We are loosing our freedom of the press and the CONGRESS and the President is Guilty of violating their oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States by allowing this to happen. At this point, failing to preserve the neurtrality of the internet with the current media consolidation is an treason in my way of thinking.

Michael H. McCarley:

I can make no sense of your post. Are you a spambot?

The Internet is alot like TV and radio, if you don't like what you're seeing, change the channel.

Please do not advocate for censorship on the Internet; for reasons why, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Firewall_of_China
http://www.peacefire.org/censorware/SmartFilter/

If you want to know why there should be media ownership rules watch the FOX News channel. It must be understood that the common person believes that the people they see and hear on radio and television are telling the truth. They believe that "all" the information is being given to them and that it's not being shaped in such a way as to direct opinion. Because people own these stations and because people sometimes have their own agendas we must control how much one entity can own.

This is the real issue here. I cannot watch the national or local news media anymore. Why? I cannot trust what I am receiving. I can go to the internet and hear other viewpoints. Diversity is essential!

Know this, things are narrowing, not just with media, but with everything. Ownership of our food (seeds), land, water, information (through media), and government (one party controls all three branches of our federal government) are all extremely narrow (or are becoming so very quickly).

Do I think voting really helps? Not really. Not when I vote on a maching that is controlled solely by a corporation that has built an inferior product which favors one party over another. Watch the elections this November. The fixing of elections has happend the past three elections. Do you really think that this will change this time.

I guess I am so discouraged that I am not sure what to do anymore. Most days I am so depressed about my future and the future of this country that I question why I am here at all.

When will this madness end? When will just rain down? Who will stand for a change? A REAL change.

The discussion about taking away local radio gave me flashbacks to the year it happened in NC. I was the President of our local Kiwanis Club and the local radio station helped us by sponsering a daylong
fundraising day devoted to supporting childrens programs locally. It was bought out by a conglomerate and our fundraising event went down the tubes. The conglomerate gave us 3 hrs of air time the next year.
We also lost our local garage sale where folks of any means could swap and sell cars,clothes,dogs,furniture.It was hokey but it was a service to the community. We still talk about how much we miss it.

In particular, I'm right now thinking about the loss of local radio stations. After seeing the segment on Bryce Phillips' local station just east of New Orleans staying on-air during and after Katrina, I's wondering: who in BIG MEDIA picked up on the fact that he's living on medical disability while he runs this wonderful local asset and is now scheming to end his disability payments and put him out of business? Paranoid? I don't think so.

Is media consolidation a problem, you ask. I ask how many Americans know anything about the day to day life of citizens of Iraq, of Afghanistan, of Iran? How many know that our US leaders do not practice diplomacy, but would rather bomb instead?
How many know how much money the Pentagon gets for more weapons while cutting the EPA? Would I know anything about these matters, no, except that I am now a rabid reader of all the news not fit to print that I can find on the internet. CBS used to have mighty news broadcasters, long ago. The latest news is meant to be entertaining to attract the younger set, only they are on the internet. Bravo internet for demonstrating that single sourced anything is underserving the inquiring minds, even if one only can afford dial up in NYC, like me.
Much gratitude to Mr. Moyers and his crew!!

Debbie Cox:
The discussion about taking away local radio gave me flashbacks to the year it happened in NC.

Could you elaborate on this? How was your local radio "taken away"? Why can you not just buy a transmitter and start broadcasting local radio right now?

Could it be that this is another scheme to take basics rights away and having total control of communications. Can this technology now possibly implemented for financial gain, eventually be hi-jacked by a political force to control access and therefore opinion? Example: During the 2004 presidential election the website of the White House was blocked and could not be reached from Europe.
Dangerous times for free speech!

The internet is global. "www" is World Wild Web. Once again, the big money politicos and moguls position themselves as rulers of the world. A voice in a poor country gets heard because they can access the necessary bandwith to webcast their video information on the internet. The FCC and big telecoms eliminating "net neutrality" is no different than going to that poor country and bombing them because they are a different culture, with different views than the U.S. ...and without the big bucks of ATT or Verizon. Just as a few conglomorate took over the airwaves, so do they seek to take over the internet. Congress has the Bush mentality to let them go ahead. After all, how many millions of dollars did greedy ATT & Verizon "donate" to his greedy presidential candidacy?

BeeJay:

Bravo internet for demonstrating that single sourced anything is underserving the inquiring minds

Exactly... and if that single source is the FCC...?


I ask how many Americans know anything about the day to day life of citizens of Iraq, of Afghanistan, of Iran?

How many Americans know anything about life in the UK where only the BBC, by law, may broadcast radio/television? All the worthwhile radio is illegal "pirate" radio.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Caroline


even if one only can afford dial up in NYC, like me.

Dude, just turn on your 802.11b/g wireless and jump on one of the 50 different access points you can see! There is absolutely NO REASON to have dial-up in NYC.

Media consolidation is a huge problem in our society today. Since about 15 years ago i've heard local independent radio stations in massachusetts come and go, Media consolidation is a huge problem in our society today. Since about 15 years ago i've heard local independent radio stations in massachusetts come and go, programming on television stations became more monotonous and newspapers because so suffocating with the lack of diversity.

There is no issue so vital to the continuation of our democracy and our American way of life as the question of media ownership. We must come together to break up these conglomerates that make our nation's airwaves one sad clone of itself from coast to coast.

Though while we can lay the blame of this situation mostly at the feet of a corrupt Republican Congress, we must keep in mind that this monster they've created hardly serves their party's self interests. We now have a situation where the changing political whims of a single corporation can influence all broadcasted political speech in multiple major markets.

We must come together as Americans and pull these giants down.

Of course media consolidation is a major problem. It is equivalent to the death of democracy. Commercial TV and radio stations aren't worth much to me. Living in a university town, we get good local news (and national news) from the NPR and PBS stations, but I worry about rural towns without access to much more than Rush Limbaugh and FOX News.

In our rural area of Virginia, luckily we can get reasonably good FM reception for two PBS stations in the D.C. area. But the only way to get local news is by going to local public meetings or reading a weekly newspaper locally. It would be so great to have a local radio station!

In our rural area of Virginia, luckily we can get reasonably good FM reception for two PBS stations in the D.C. area. But the only way to get local news is by going to local public meetings or reading a weekly newspaper locally. It would be so great to have a local radio station!

Freedom of the Net is essential.
Slowly, slowly, the water is being drained from the pond and all the fish are dying. SAY NO TO THE MONOPOLY OF COMMUNICATION.


Everything is Personal.

Media consolidation is definetly a problem. It has influenced the perspective on government and politics. It has severely limited freedom of expression and influence. It is so undemocratic that it scares me very much. Our government was founded on the principles of freedom of speech. We have lost so many freedoms recently and it scares me more that there is not more vocal outbursts and demands made to preserve our constituional rights.

On October 6th, our local FM station WRDU 106.1 stopped broadcasting its classic rock format after 22 years; the owner, Clear Channel, exercised its prerogative to trash the last commercial station I listened to regularly, aside from the public classical station WCPE. Thanx, Clear Channel, for bringing the Triangle one step closer to a state of utter media homogeneity. (If Congress lets you own a dozen ststions around here, Radio McDonaldland may soon become a total reality!)

Media consolidation is a huge problem! We now routinely see big media outlets refusing to let third-party candidates participate in campaign debates; we routinely see them refusing to cover community protests.

These are policies made up by and for the benefit of the corporate-owned media, and they are INTRINSICALLY un-democratic.

Local radio has indeed suffered a death blow from the pen of Bill Clinton in 1996. Don't blame Clear Channel and the rest of the big boys for buying stations willing to sell. Business is business and after all, isn't this still the land of the free and doesn't capitalism still work? Yes, on both counts.
As for Zuzu's somewhat ignorant question of "why can you not just buy a transmitter and just start broadcasting now?" Well Z...I suppose it's this thing we in a free country call the LAW. For the same reason you can't walk into a hospital and start doing brain surgery (which, evidently, you need) or why you can't just hop into a 747 and fly it into the sky without something called a LICENSE. (yes, I remember those who did that very deed 5 years ago.. WITHOUT a licnese) Radio stations licenses (I have several by the way) are commodities and are entrusted to those responsible enough to demonstrate they have the ability, knowhow, and unfortunately for you, the common sense to operate said transmitter.
However, you could try your local Radio Shack,.. they will sell you a walkie talkie or you could get a megaphone.
Best wishes.

Just want to make sure you all know that there's a live discussion going on right now with Mike McCurry of Hands off the Internet and Ben Scott of Save The Internet representing both sides of the debate - http://www.pbs.org/moyers/citizensclass/2006/10/post.html

So get your questions in there!

Whenever we're Up North . . .

We have really enjoyed listening to CBC (Canadian radio) Up North, because (a) they have feature news, i.e., longer stories on things that matter (b) they have a funny, corny yet hard-hitting and straight approach to the news, with a dry wit (c) it sounds like radio used to sound around these parts, i.e., normal not shrill, regular people's voices. Hard to describe. Hope they keep it going. What is going on with American media? (I tend to keep an eye on mediamatters.org


Bev Hunter:
It would be so great to have a local radio station!

Buy a transmitter (they cost as much as a computer) and start one!

...until the FCC knocks on your door and says you need to pay them $50,000 to do that.

Dismantle the FCC and the conglomeration of mass-media will stop.
http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2003/03/12/spectrum/

Media consolidation is a problem. Our democracy is becoming a tool to service those that own. Large corporations that own the media care little about free speech.

The legislation Bill Clinton signed was just the start of a strategic plan for the few to own and control what the populace reads, sees hears and soon types.

The recent back room last minute dealings with telcos, media companies and other interested parties scares the hell out of me.

Those that control the media control the people.


We have no local coverage in the media.

J.D.:
As for Zuzu's somewhat ignorant question of "why can you not just buy a transmitter and just start broadcasting now?" Well Z...I suppose it's this thing we in a free country call the LAW. For the same reason you can't walk into a hospital and start doing brain surgery (which, evidently, you need) or why you can't just hop into a 747 and fly it into the sky without something called a LICENSE. (yes, I remember those who did that very deed 5 years ago.. WITHOUT a licnese) Radio stations licenses (I have several by the way) are commodities and are entrusted to those responsible enough to demonstrate they have the ability, knowhow, and unfortunately for you, the common sense to operate said transmitter.

I raise that point precisely to reveil the popular ignorance.

That "law" you speak of is precisely the problem!!!

There is no legitimate reason to need a license to operate a radio station. It's as preposterous as needing a license to write a weblog or an encyclopedia.
http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2003/03/12/spectrum/

Excerpted from:
http://dir.salon.com/story/tech/feature/2003/03/12/spectrum/index.html

"Interference is a metaphor that paints an old limitation of technology as a fact of nature." So says David P. Reed, electrical engineer, computer scientist, and one of the architects of the Internet. If he's right, then spectrum isn't a resource to be divvied up like gold or parceled out like land. It's not even a set of pipes with their capacity limited by how wide they are or an aerial highway with white lines to maintain order.

Spectrum is more like the colors of the rainbow, including the ones our eyes can't discern. Says Reed: "There's no scarcity of spectrum any more than there's a scarcity of the color green. We could instantly hook up to the Internet everyone who can pick up a radio signal, and they could pump through as many bits as they could ever want. We'd go from an economy of digital scarcity to an economy of digital abundance."

So throw out the rulebook on what should be regulated and what shouldn't. Rethink completely the role of the Federal Communications Commission in deciding who gets allocated what. If Reed is right, nearly a century of government policy on how to best administer the airwaves needs to be reconfigured, from the bottom up.

Z,
With all due respect, I agree withj you that anyone should be able to "write an encylopedia". At this time there is no shortage of parer. However, there IS a shortage of bandwidth (freqquency space) for radio. Hence, the "law" to regulate this highway of sorts. Do you think we would get very far if there weren't laws and speed limits on our highways and roads? Same sort of thing Z... a free society must have laws which regulate, hopefully for the better of all. That, perhaps, is your argument,.. that you aren't hearing, seeing, or getting what you want from local/national media. Most of us aren't either.. and there are manifold problems.. but we're still the freeest of the free. Our challenge is to keep it that way. I appreciate your comments. Have a good night.

J.D.:
However, there IS a shortage of bandwidth (freqquency space) for radio. Hence, the "law" to regulate this highway of sorts.

Read that article by Salon.com and please provide an intelligent rebuttal of David P. Reed's proposal, if you can.

Until then, I find your hypothesis that a scarcity of radio bandwidth exists unconvincing.

However, thank you for attempting to address and debate the relevant matters at hand.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spread_spectrum

"Interference is a metaphor that paints an old limitation of technology as a fact of nature."
http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2003/03/12/spectrum/

Media consolidation is part of the one world order plan. The cable and Communist media companies should be paying for the right to "rent" the space we allow them to lay cables and wire to our telephone poles. Who gives these arrogant self serving pathetic people even the notion to corrupt our very last freedom we have to communicate in a non-sensored manner. The interent is the peoples and it will stay that way or these people and govt are in a fight for their life. they can't deal with the thought that their years of manipulation and criminality has come back to roost where they are loosing tremendous market share to the internet. Hollywood which is an elete group of control freaks who have banded together and controled the entertainment industry and look at the garbage that we have to put up with. The Federal Reserve Bankers which is the heart of the problem behind all of this sensorship must be stopped - They own majority stock in all media and will do whatever to get control to our last freedom. Remember they print and control our money-they make and break govt's at will-they decide who wins the elections-and they make hundreds and hundreds of billions tax free dollars on us slaves. They are the one's that need to be stopped-Demand it and don't give up your rights. Save The Last Bit of Freedom We Have Left!

Im sure plans are in the works for large concentration camps to fence us all in - where the decision makers can control our communication can be controlled. Their worst nightmare (An open internet) has been let out of the bag and thats our ability to communicate in very large groups where we can organize and defeat any of these (Federal Reserve) controlled govt agencies. We must protect our rights at all costs or else we will all be controlled by a small group of criminals. The airwaves are each of the 300mil americans living in this country and we as a nation need to be telling them what we want to do with our airwaves and utility lines. Flood your representatives with letters, calls and votes to stop any more encroachment on our freedoms.

Media consolidation is the worst thing that could happen to a free and open society. The fewer the number of opinions we have access to, the less informed our decisions will be.

The internet, in particular, is the one place left where the average person can be heard, free and unfiltered. Let's not forget that fact, while we're trying to force "freedom" on everyone else in the world.

The monied, powerful few won't be completely happy until they control everything.

It seems that George Bush and his cronies did read one book very thoroughly: 1984. But instead of seeing it as a cautionary tale, they took it as a how-to-do book.

Thank you for your program on net neutrality and the consolidation of media. I have a question: Why are cable TV companies permitted to run commercials? Why does the cable-paying American public accept this practice?

I saw the program on PBS last night and i have to say it scares the hell out of me, and it should scare anyone who believes in freedom of speech, freedom of the press and liberty in general (which seems to be a smaller and smaller group of Americans these days) I don't write my representitives very often, but they will be hearing from me on this.

Barbara raises a good point that I've often wondered about. The companies are providing content that we pay for, and then, though insertion of their own commercial product, they are, in effect, censoring that product.

I know that, as an advertiser, if I paid big bucks for the commerical time on TNT, for instance, I'd be real angry that somewhere, my commercial time was being blocked by another advertiser at the local level.

It's the principle, of course, but I feel weird arguing for advertisers.

I am appalled that congress has retracted net neutrality laws and is opening the door for big business to start controlling content on the Internet. Net neutrality laws follow the same principles as common carriage so that my first amendment rights are protected. The media has become a disaster since government allowed the consolidation of radio, TV and newspaper. Please do not allow this to happen to the internet, the one forum left that represents the true spirit of Jeffersonian Democracy. I work in the media field and find myself frustrated daily that there are no forums left other than the internet for unbiased information.
--

I'm pretty sure that when they come to take away your Internet (and they will, because no one has yet stepped forth with the power to stop the Republican Campaign of Fear), it will be couched as a good thing, to protect the public.

With all the predators out there, and all the unfiltered, irresponsible postings unbeholden to any standards of truth or decency, they'll say they are protecting us from ourselves.

They'll remind us how we've all griped about spammers, web sites that are Inappropriate For Our Children, and how much internet content is the equivalent to supermarket tabloids.

What do we do? In media, we have "watchdog" organizations to monitor the truthfulness in advertising or political campaigns (they did John Kerry a lot of good, didn't they?), but who is going to watch out for the internet?

If ever there was a good time to have someone like Ralph Nader around, this would be it. I wonder if he still thinks there is no difference between Bush and Gore? Speak up, Ralph! Let's hear it, while we still can! How 'bout Ralph as the head of the FCC?

I still wish Nader had set his goals a little differently, like maybe as head of a cabinet-level post for consumer affairs. Of course, that would have compromised his independence, but so is being beholden to (any) political party as a candidate!

I mentioned earlier (only partly in jest) that the Bush Administration seems to have taken 1984 to heart. Well, it's been 1984 for the last six years now and Big Brother has almost consolidated his hold on you.

From re-writing the laws to withhold information from minority party investigations in Congress, to illegal redistricting in Texas, to flat-out stamping "Secret" on whatever they want to, with no recourse for anyone else, the Republicans have done everything in their power -- and beyond -- to ensure that they will forever hold all power in the country.

They will spy on you; hold you in a secret prison on no charges, with no right to counsel; torture you if they like; or do any other little thing (had your back taxes reviewed recently?) they wish to harrass you, at a mere whim.

I have no trouble bowing to the needs of a "well-ordered society." I don't cross against the light, or yell "fire" in a crowded theater. But that "well-ordered society" needs to be administered to by a government that responds to the needs of the People, and doesn't instead repress them.

For those that think they can change the future, or keep the internet the same, I have sorry news for you. After working for a media giant and being treated like some sort of robot, I know there is no way that an individual can win over a corporation. It's all about money - those with the most win.

I represent a small constituency, people with MS (multiple sclerosis) and because of our small demographics (0.0833% of the population or 1 out of 1,200 Americans) we, and the goods and services we buy, are never going to get any coverage on the broadband media.

I have started a podcast ( http://www.MSBPodcast.com ) to try to correct this imbalance in the mass media.

In effect, I represent the antithesis of the Lousiana radio station in that my constituency is small and extremely sparsely distributed while his was small and extremely localized.

The sallient point is that we are both small. Our geographic distribution is irrelevant.

The end result of all of the media consolidation is that small doesn't produce enough revenue for the consolidated.

It is as effectively censored by hostile economics as it would be by hostile politics.

The internet needs protection from the consolidators just as the highway system needs protection from the toll booth operators, and for the same reason.

Do you think that media consolidation is a problem?
- Yes, I knew it would be as soon as the regulations were "lightened".

Do you feel like you get enough local news coverage?
- No, I do not. In fact, other than traffic and weather, local news is pretty much a joke. I have gotten to the point that I no longer know who I can trust for "accurate" local or national news coverage. I tend to get what news I do get from NPR and LinkTv.

Do you know who owns your local media outlets?
- I have no idea at the moment. I do however know that Clear Channel controls at least the majority of local radio stations, and they all stink. I do not even listen to local radio anymore and havent in years. Nor do I bother with our only newspaper which leans to the conservative.

Telcoms and other media is so busy grabbing power over the little guy that they do not have time for inovation or building infrastructure- that is where goverment comes in, and if one branch won't do it then it should get grafted(replaced).

I was a disc jockey on overseas Armed Forces Radio affiliates for a large portion of my 20-year Navy career, and I had more freedom then to air what music I wanted to than we have today in commercial radio. Sure, we had some "canned" programming from Los Angeles, but live local time covered at least eight hours of the day, every day. And, yes, it was "command information," as opposed to hard news, but that's essentially what you're getting now on broadcast radio and TV!

And cable? Now more than 500 stations...of almost nothing but dreck and reruns. Many of the commercials are more creative.

If anyone wants to see where the "net neutrality" issue is going if Bush and the Corporate Republicans win out, just look to Communist China, where the net-roving citizenry has been firewalled into further submission. Nothing gets in or out without government approval.

What's really bizarre is that the government would now be aligned with Janis Joplin! Remember the classic lyric from "Me and Bobby McGee": "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."

Pretty soon, that's about what we'll have left: nothing! They'll own everything.

I guess then, we'll be free.

As I recall, one of Ronald Reagan's favorite words (besides "Evil Empire") was "deregulation." Why do so many think he was such a great president? He lay the foundation for our current problems. The Cold War was won not because of him, but because the USSR lacked free flow of information. We could wind up like them if we don't preserve the freedom of access to information from the Internet (we've already lost it from traditional media.)

Some people think "The Market" is perfect and solves its own problems. Those people are usually the wealthy monopolists who profit from fewer regulations. I think we need regulations -- not to protect us from ourselves, but to protect the most citizens from manipulation by the largest corporations, which are already too powerful.

If I ever watch 700 Club or Fox News, it is only to see what the brainwashers are up to.

I have a pirate frequency operating in my local area. I have coverage of about 2-3 miles. I am doing my part to be civilly disobedient. When the system turns corrupt then the sane and the righteous become the criminals. Join the other criminals in your neighborhood. FCC stands for Further Corporate Control. They are now the Indian killers and the Gestapo working for the forces of darkness. If you believe in democracy then you will start your own station too. Let a thousand stations bloom.

Cathyblj is absolutely correct! I've always felt that the Reagan Administration was hugely responsible for the mess we're in.

When the "Evil Empire" fell, it was due to a huge military build-up on our part, that they tried to match...but failed.

You see, we had the infrastructure to support the build-up. They didn't.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, we should have been there instantly, with a hand extended and offers on the table to help them build a peaceful society. Instead, we let it crumble into the mess they have become today, with the old regime ready to step in and reestablish control. It's just like the mission we "accomplished" in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is now back in control.

Reagan also led the wave of "spend it all now" that has led to the Bush Administration's record deficits. They've certainly set things up so that, even if the Dems win, it'll all be such a mess that the Republicans will be able to just sit back and smirk. They'll say, "You see, the Democrats can't fix a thing."

I've always felt that if the Democrats had the veracity to go after the Reagan Administration that the Republicans used to nail Bill Clinton for his relatively-minor "indisgression," Morning In America would have revealed a scorched earth in Washington. They were crooked to the core. There hasn't been a clean Republican administration in my lifetime.

As far as the Stock Market is concerned, it so goes against the idea that you go out, do your own work, and earn your keep. A corporation should be first and foremost beholden to the people who work for it. Too many people who worked hard to earn their keep are on the streets...because their bosses valued their market shares more than the people who helped them earn it.

Just a little edit of my previous post:

Substitute "zeal" for "veracity." "Veracity" implies that the Republicans actually use truth and honesty in their administrations.

Having said that, I'm now in the peculiar position of giving more of a pass to the Elder Bush, at least on the topic of Iraq. He went to war with a true world coalition, established through years of diplomatic dealings in a variety of government roles (not all clean). And he stopped at the border, as the rest of the world determined we should. Regardless of his "light-weightness" as a world leader, he had enough control to rein in Rumsfeld, Poindexter, and all the others who would have taken us into Iraq there and then.

His son has none of that. Bush the Younger couldn't even run a baseball team. Or find oil in Texas.

oh, sure it's a problem...most obviously recognized in news generated by newspapers and radio stations. to request a song on your favorite station is virtually impossible...either there is nobody at the helm, they don't have the album that it's on, or it just doesn't fit into their predetermined playlist.

i used to think that my local newspaper was my last place of refuge for relatively unbiased information that was presented in it's entirety...no details omitted. but now, since it has merged w/ surrounding community newspapers, it's cookie-cutter information.

and i anticipate the internet will succumb to the same plight. is it just coincidence that both yahoo and msn have the same news headlines on a given day? perhaps it's all in my head...

it's a sad time when you can watch CNN for 30 minutes and see coverage of the same story 5 times.

As a small-video production company in the 90's, I wanted to produce local programs of interest to my community and have the local cable system air them.
Congress had recently established "Commercial Leased Access" which required that cable operators air such programs at a fee established by Congress based on the number of cable subscribers that could watch the program.
Not wanting to air my tourism-based series, Cox Cable used every illegal tactic possible to keep me off the air. I filed a petition with the FCC claiming that Cox was requiring excessive insurance and extra fees that were not being charged to other programmers, on other channels. It took 2 years, but I finally won access.
A few years ago, I wanted to enter another market controlled by MediaCom, and once again they refused to do what the law provided. I filed a petition once again, and three years later the FCC has done nothing.
I finally placed my programming on the internet, making it available to anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time...and once again the cable clans, along with the phone companies, want to put me out of business by charging extra Bandwidth usage fees! Their rational is that the more you use, the more you pay, ie.like long distance tolls.
The cable and phone giants have failed to provide enough bandwidth and have lined their pockets with government tax credits and lobbyist's dollars. The FCC no longer serves the public interest and our elected officials have lost touch with mainstream America.
Big Media simply wants no competition, no matter how insignificant it may be, from grass roots Americans. We are rapidly on our way to becomming our own worst nightmare, and yet, sadly, most Americans have turned a blind eye and accept their fate as they watch their "rights" evaporate as quickly as the inked signatures dry on the Bills that take them from us.
It is time we purge the Congress and Senate chambers of those we were stupid enough to elect, and replace them with true Patriots and Visionaries (if any still exist). We are no longer "the land of the free".

Good point on throwing the bums out, Rod.

Whatever happened to term limits...and the Contract for America supporters who promised them? Anyone got a roll call?

I remember Doc Hastings here in Washington State, who campaigned on a promise of term limits, then found that there was still too much important work to do to trust inexperienced rookies, or some such baloney. Like he had the experience the first time around.

His phony promise helped unseat the reigning House Speaker at the time. Pack of lies, that Contract.

Getting back to term limits, what do we do if the new generation of electronic voting machines puts them back in office anyway? Let's not forget that the manufacturer promised to deliver victory for Bush in 2004. Did we? Or did he? Who tallies the votes? And if it's close, just how many late voters will be nudged into the (R) column by the Fox talking heads, who will still be promoting an "obvious victory in the making," regardless of the true numbers?

If the voting machines are part of The Machine, they could elect Lyndon LaRouche if programmed that way. What if we can't vote 'em out...or have no way of proving if we actually did?

Getting back to Fox News, isn't Tony Snow managing the White House Press literally the Fox guarding the henhouse?

Does anyone there know -- or care about -- the definition of "Conflict of Interest?" This administration reeks of it, from Dick "Halliburton" Cheney on down.

Cathybj:
As I recall, one of Ronald Reagan's favorite words (besides "Evil Empire") was "deregulation." Why do so many think he was such a great president?

Because he put a stop to stagflation by halting the expansion of the money supply by the Federal Reserve.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stagflation


He lay the foundation for our current problems. The Cold War was won not because of him, but because the USSR lacked free flow of information.

No, the USSR failed because of what's known as the Economic Calculation Problem. It failed because of government trying to control the economy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_calculation_problem


Some people think "The Market" is perfect and solves its own problems. Those people are usually the wealthy monopolists who profit from fewer regulations.

Actually, monopolies are caused by regulations, through government-business partnership. In a free market, monopolies are not possible because of competition through free entry. Poor people have the most to gain from free markets.

Every person is a businessperson.


I think we need regulations -- not to protect us from ourselves, but to protect the most citizens from manipulation by the largest corporations, which are already too powerful.

Corporations are only powerful because they are chartered by the government:

* Limited Liability
* Personhood
* Corporate Welfare
* Regulatory Capture

I agree that corporations have their problems, but they all originate from the government.

Treat the disease not the symptom.

Jeff Woodhouse:
When the "Evil Empire" fell, it was due to a huge military build-up on our part, that they tried to match...but failed.

No, this is a myth. The USA played little or no role in the decline and fall of the USSR.

Communism just fundamentally cannot work, ever.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_calculation_problem

The Use of Knowledge in Society:
http://www.virtualschool.edu/mon/Economics/HayekUseOfKnowledge.html

Rod Harsh:
The FCC no longer serves the public interest and our elected officials have lost touch with mainstream America.

The FCC never served the public interest. It has always been a form of regulatory capture. Please check your history on this. The FCC, together with the government-sponsored corporation RCA, sought to keep radio out of the hands of individuals (ever since radio was invented), but without using a government-owned corporation as the UK did with the BBC.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RCA


Big Media simply wants no competition, no matter how insignificant it may be, from grass roots Americans.

Yes, this is true. However, the means why which they can exercise this coercive power is through government grants and regulations. As I've commented several times before, it is the FCC regulations requiring a license to broadcast -- a government grant of monopoly -- which has empowered mass-media conglomeration.

The solution is not more FCC control, but less!!!


http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2003/03/12/spectrum/

"Interference is a metaphor that paints an old limitation of technology as a fact of nature." So says David P. Reed, electrical engineer, computer scientist, and one of the architects of the Internet. If he's right, then spectrum isn't a resource to be divvied up like gold or parceled out like land. It's not even a set of pipes with their capacity limited by how wide they are or an aerial highway with white lines to maintain order.

Spectrum is more like the colors of the rainbow, including the ones our eyes can't discern. Says Reed: "There's no scarcity of spectrum any more than there's a scarcity of the color green. We could instantly hook up to the Internet everyone who can pick up a radio signal, and they could pump through as many bits as they could ever want. We'd go from an economy of digital scarcity to an economy of digital abundance."

So throw out the rulebook on what should be regulated and what shouldn't. Rethink completely the role of the Federal Communications Commission in deciding who gets allocated what. If Reed is right, nearly a century of government policy on how to best administer the airwaves needs to be reconfigured, from the bottom up.

zuzu,

I agree, to an extent. But the Soviet grip on power was largely due to their military strength to begin with.

The Communist system, perhaps, paired with that belief in their military foundation, as opposed to the people and a stronger, economically-based model, combined to do them in.

I believe that when it finally became apparent that they couldn't win militarily, they had nothing to fall back on.

Communism may fail every time, in and of itself, but where has it ever been tried freely, without a military threat to back it up? Could it work if chosen democratically, and supported by the people, rather than enforced by military rule? Or, will the greed at the top eventually set in?

It seems to me that most any form of government could succeed, if it's freely supported by the people, and not used as a weapon against them.

After all, it's not Communism in and of itself that made the Soviet leadership put all its eggs in the military basket and leave the people bereft.

Every Communist country we've seen thus far has systematically stripped its people to the bone, more for the self-agrandizement of its leaders, which is not the true meaning of its dictates.

If the corruption lies in the leadership, does that mean the system itself will not work? After all, our own democratic republic has more corruption than you can shake a stick at!

Media consolidation is a cancer that is sucking the life out of good journalism. I think it's telling that this kind of quality journalism can only be found on public television, public radio and the internet. It's no wonder that so many of us expressed our concern when congress threatened to virtually kill PBS and NPR by cutting off their funding. I also don't believe it's any coincidence that we've got this attack on the internet, public broadcasting and a lack of regulation of telecommunications all at the same time. We need to fight just as hard to keep net neutrality as we did for PBS and NPR. Please write your representatives and let them know how you feel. After all, if they don't hear from you, the only message they'll get is the one corporate lobbyists are pushing.

Yes there is a problem with consolidation of media, and there is a loss of local content. Try to get a debate by local politicions without cable access impossible anymore. If your lucky enough to have a local cable channel there is a chance you might find this programming. One used to find this fare on any local television or radio affiliate but no longer.

I used to live for Lucy's Toyshop as a child on TV out of Columbus, Ohio or Flippo the Clown after school, and when I was older Fritz The NightOwl, all local talent. Then there was Mr. Cartoon and Popcorn Willie out of West Virginia again all local talent. It used to crack me up that Mr. Cartoon was also the local weatherman on the 11:00 O'clock news. I guess the point I'm making here is these people were invested in their communities, and it was always nice to see the participation of local children in most of these shows, it was always neat to see one of you friends as one of the local guests for the day, and everyday was an event. You just don't see this anymore my children get the same reruns on any number of channels no local talent, no audiance participation, just a 30 minute sales pitch that is canned for their age group.

I am an Ohio State Buckeye fan, have followed them as long as I can remember. They are ranked #1 this season and have yet to lose a game. They are Slated to play Indiana this week but I cannot watch them this week on any of the local stations, the game is not being carried, not even by our local cable company. It is on ESPN-U. I have never heard of this channel, after some investigating I found if I go to one of the local sports bars that has satellite I might be able to see the game, guess I'll miss it. This is symptematic of the whole underlyig problem, the local people who are really invested in this stuff have been cut out, by the big corporations.

I use to follow a small radio station in Jackson, Ohio it had a very diverse format rock, country western, bluegrass, big band you name it. I personally enjoyed the mix some 35 years ago and it helped shape my apprerciation for a wide range of music. With all of this there was local news that got us through the flood of 1969. There was always local talent on the weekends, discussion of local events, the farm reports, local election coverage, and even coverage of the local fairs and festivals. Not anymore all canned, one format little if any local news, I dread thinking about what would have happend in the flood of 69, or when the sheriff and his deputy were shot and the manhunt that went on for days was covered by this and other local stations that no longer exist.

I rarely listen to radio anymore, it for the most part lacks any real diversity or content, the same with television PBS, CSPAN, the Buckeyes and the Browns when they are actually on. I'm usually surfing the net for daily events, the last bastion of our unabashed free speaking and thinking. I will admit I do miss Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley you could get it straight from these guys, I think the folks back then understod it was necessary to survive.

Without Public Radio and TV plus the internet the ability to access real news, indepth studies and round tables as well as music choices is practically non existant. The internet must be kept free. Also, Public TV and Radio needs to be well supported and free of government interference. In additon to wonderful round table discussions and interviews it provides access to ballet, symphony, and opera which is priced out of reach for many (such as teachers) where live performances are available. These sources must be kept open for that part of the public that can still think and make choices.

More and more the mass media conglomerates look like governmental propaganda operations. Meaningful, usable news has all but disappeared and much of what we need to know about what is happening in Washington and the world appears to be withheld from the public.

Our government is supposed to derive its power from the people and act in their best interest, not as agents of big business and special interests.

It's time to take back our country.

I agree that consolidation does not serve the Public Interest, Convinience O Necessity (PICON) as was required years ago by the FCC.

I was on vacation in New Orleans last summer when hurricane Cindy came through. All local AM and FM stations (including the FEMA station WWL-AM) were on automation that evening and I could find NO news about the hurricane as it was coming through (we had no power for some of the time). WDSU-TV had cut-ins and were discribing the location of the storm. Do you have a battery operated TV or a TV in your car?

When Katrina came in later, WWL did a very good job, but I was concerned as to whether they would be doing anything.

In the case of Hurricane Cindy, I feel the local stations should be fined for not providing public safety information.

Also LPFM should be opened up more so that small non profit groups can serve their towns where the large broadcasters no longer do.

Thank you very much for an excellent program, I was glued to the screen for the entire time!

Dan Brown
Natick, MA.

MANY THANKS FOR THIS PROGRAM, BILL MOYERS.

I find that so many people live in a fantasy world. Going about their own business, trusting that what is being fed to them by the media outlets is the gospel truth. We are foolish. This is the New World Order that Bush Sr. (and now Bush Jr.) through his Vice-President Dick Cheney IS IMPOSING UPON US. No more United States. We are becoming a country called Northern America. It includes the USA, Canada, and Mexico and most of the Central American nations.
This total takeover of mass media is just one more aspect of the plan to control the people. Germany's Goebbels would be proud of the way the US government has followed his example of the Ministry of Propaganda. Why do you think that no one in the federal government is interested in securing the borders of the United States ? It's because we have no borders. Read the following websight and you'll understand. It's printed up by the US government. It's a little known, obscure site that everyone should read and know about. Who are these people that are making these decisions ? Can they be stopped ? You decide.
Here's the web site........
www.spp.gov
These people want us kept like mushrooms. In the dark and fed manure (BS).
WAKE UP AMERICA !!!!!!!

Great posts. So much outrage out there. I can't sit back and take the lies and corruption. I love this country too much to see it destroy itself. So I take action. I do as much as I can. It is the only way to keep my hope for change. I believe we have strength in numbers. People power at grassroots. The corporate machine controls every aspect of our government. We must fight back. We are at a critical juncture with no time to waste. Winning back net neutrality is one of many issues we need to address. It's a great starting point.
I feel lucky that I have access to great radio, community based stations. But feel a majority of Americans do not get a balanced accurate feed of news/info. The readily available new stations and much print media grossly distort and withold the facts. This is tragic for all Americans and threatens our democracy as many of you have said.
I am encouraged by the volume and intensity of response to this critical issue. Hopefully we can use it be make real and lasting change for america.

I think media consolidation is among the most pressing problems facing our Democracy. As has been noted in earlier posts the mass media has consistently ignored the voices of anybody who doesn't fit into the bipolar conservative/liberal, republican/democrat dialectic. Now the mass media is seeking to make this "dialogue" into a monologue for the right-wing ideals that benifit Murdoch, Clear Channel and the rest. This is clear even outside of the clearly bias political hacks like O'Reilly, Hannity, Carlson and the rest. Now you have Matt Lauer and many others picking up on and using right-wing talkings points, wether consciously or unconsciously. For example he refers to Nancy Pelosi as "the controversial" congresswoman. Controversial to who? People who don't want Democrats to win the election. Yet Donald Rumsfeld is not the "controversial" Sec. of Defense even though controversy about him stretches across party lines.
Beyond this the Government is not interested in a well-informed Citizenry. We have all these arguments about teaching intelligent-design, moral/family values, even teaching only in English. I HAVE NEVER HEARD ANY DISCUSSION OF TEACHING CIVICS IN OUR SCHOOLS. Why aren't we talking about teaching kids the law, the rights & responsibilties of citizenry? How to vote? How to find out who your represenatives are, how they vote and how to contact them? That we can recall elected officials?
You may ask what does this have to do with Net neutrality? Everything imho. People have to know what their rights are before they are taken away. They have to know how to defend those rights before they are gone. Not just how to try and get them back.
We constantly hear about family values declining. But the same people who are bemoaing this, or at least publicising it, are the ones abandoning civic values and civic responsibilties.
The internet is fast becoming the last bastion of true freedom of expression in America. So it does not surprise me in the least that it is under attack. Corporations and their bought representatives in goverment, republican & democrat, have long held the belief that the right to make money, private-property rights, supercede all other rights. Net neutrality threatens this strangle-hold, hence it is under attack.
I am so disgusted with the current state of affairs in Washington. Regulation has been turned over to the people who are supposed to be regulated. Media lobbyists run the FCC, Energy lobbyists the EPA and so on. I wonder what people would say if we turned over the regulation of prisons to the prisoners. The inmates are running the asylum and the American people are paying the price for unchecked corruption.

Jason Costa

I feel that there is no real news, be it global or community, it is hand picked for what "they" want us to see. I hardly ever see news from my community. I never know about traffic issues.
Internet is also crazy, I have to pay a lot for the services and it still is a mess. When I look for something specific for my class assignments, I have to look through a lot of junk.
My local station is owned by A Meredith Corp.Station.
They do things for the Hartford area but I do not see things being done for the Willimantic area.
I feel that it boils down to power, control and money, I talk about issues in the community and global to my husband all the time but as always it's about power, control and money (the rich white man) and I am a white female. It should be about human beings, we all bleed red blood. Jody SCSHS

Media consolidation is not a problem! The monopolizing of media entities is all part of the American dream and is an integral piece of our democracy. As one of the seven large media power houses, they have every right to own as much of the market and be the absolute dominate company in their profession.
The media reports what is going on in the mainstream community. I believe there is ample attention given to local news when there is relevant local news to report.
The world is connected like it has never been before, so getting news/information about anything and anywhere on this planet is not an issue. We the people have the privilege of television, radio, internet, newspaper, and word of mouth to spread the word and news of the day. A person could lock themselves up in their homes and still know what is going on in their community and rest of the world by turning the power button on. I could find out what is the local news for just about any place on the planet within a few seconds with a web search. If the people want to know, we the people will find out.
In my local area we get the same radio stations, local television networks, and online services as the rest of the country. GE, Disney, CBS, and News Corp are the owners of the local NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox networks and newspaper companies.
Mr. Ford SCSHS

you know what you are all crazy.

Mr. Ford is exceptionally wrong. Monopolization is indeed NOT an American value. Diversity of opinions and voices in the media are essential to the vitality of our democracy.

The affects are adverse on employees also. When the big (five at the time b/c Viacom owned CBS) laid off large percentages of their work forces in October and November of 2001 after the attacks, they also imposed corporate-wide hiring freezes. Those actions 1. flooded the job market with hundreds of highly talented and skilled producers and technicians and 2. restricted the available jobs as the entire industry basically shut-down. In New York there was such a high concentration of people unemployed with similar skill sets that it became virtually impossible to find meaningful employment. There needs to be greater diversity in ownership so the downturn of one company does not affect the entire industry in such a catastrophic way.

The FCC really let us down as a democracy with the re"Menopolization" of the telecom industry, here, in the south by allowing the merger of AT&T and Bell South. Rates will only go up and service will definitely decline, especially in the absense of competition. Some 4,000 jobs are soon to be lost as a result. AT&T will have absolutely no incentive to either add value or efficiently operate the system. I just wished they would have taken all that money spent on lobbying folks and put in infrstructure where it belonged. The FCC and the Bush Administration are no friends of free enterprise or the free market. Competition in their view if for the "other folks" to practice. Nice going,
Georgie and Company. Can't with till he's out of office. I'm sure the paper shredders will be going full tilt just before these guys leave office!!!!!

Yes,I do believe it is a major problem.I have stopped trying to get true information from any television "news" source,or from local or national news papers.Americans are being kept in the dark,are being told what to think,who to hate,all to push public opinion in whatever way they desire.All news is programed in such a way as to MANIPULATE the populace.I dont buy their lies,their manipulations anymore.I DO-NOT-TRUST the media to be non-biased anymore.Sad state of affairs really.Very,very sad.Our country is being run,in Washington,with the aide of the Media..into extinction,for a nation can not continue on this path,without destroying itself eventually.

Yes, I do believe AT&T, Comcast and the others will not keep their words regarding net neutrality if there is no law to force them to. The money paid to phone companies to build the fibre network went where? The media companies went way overboard after the 1996 Telecomunications act was enacted. Why should we think it will be any different this time round?

By looking and hearing the new report done on video about the troublem that are going on over the control of the network in the newpaper and tv I think that someone should go to the meeting that being held in washington and talk for the consumer that have to wait in line for the use of the internet and have to wait on everything else that have a big price on it. This video with Bill moyer has showed just how far the big company will go to get control of the airway to make big money for themself. They shoul'nt have the say in the monopoly of the airway. We the people should come togather and stand up for our right now are we will lose in the end.

I think the opinions here are clear. Media consolidation places too much power in the hands of a few. Unfortunately, the "few" aren't really who we think they are.

Follow the money. Do our relatively small, if any, subscription fees pay for the programming on the TV? I venture to say not. Hasn't the advertising $$$ model increasingly funded much Internet media content we see now?

Media consolidation makes it increasingly easy for advertisers to control the general content provided in virtually all programming we see and hear and read today. Advertisers have way more power of influence over media content than most Americans realize.

Those advertisers are soul-less publicly traded corporations whose primary responsibility is to provide quarterly profits. The long-term human ramifications are getting lost in short-term gratification. Further, much of this tied to special interest group lobbies that buy our government to use at their disposal, leveraging human weaknesses for money, power, and control.

Even worse, we are influenced by crafty marketing and advertising deeply to our subconscious level so we go out and buy from many of those same advertisers.

No wonder the media refers to it's timeslots as "programming".

We're been manipulated 24 over 24, 7 over 7, from a black box in the corner of our house. Save what you can from your brain! Just Drop It!

I believe that media consolidation is a dangerous problem. It hinders our ability to access quality non-biased information. With less people in control of more forms of media, the chance of biased sources increases. With local control over everything we would move towards what our country is all about, freedom. That is what media consolidation attacks. Our freedom to inform and to be informed.

Corporate conglomerates are making pawns out of everyone. Control over what we view, read and generate bias based on what they want us to see for special interests. I can no longer trust anything I see anymore. Google & Yahoo news are allready watered down and I can see there are agenda's everywhere with corp optinions first. I see constant plugs for things everywhere. America stands for nothing but the almighty dollar now. Now Corps want to take away our right for a free internet? This is the last move which move Americans to act. The only way is mass numbers of protesters in peaceful demonstrations. Problem with this though. A vast amount of americans are clearly comfortable behind their remote and plasma screen TV's. Many do not even know these things are going on. Thank You Bill Moyers once again for providing us with un-biased reporting for the people.
- David Carlin

The problem is real. What is also real is total helplessness. You can rant all you want but you cannot change anything about it. Maybe after the empire falls.

I fear that the internet will be monopolized like the television. Neutrality is a 'safe zone' policy where your research and communication can be somewhat self-filtered. I know like-minded folks tend to write more of the same but at least they have the tools to choose reading and publishing without an editorial board or market dictating. If we pay for a service that is completely controlled by coprs then we get web content just as soured as tv- that would be a sad day.

I refuse to comment on any blog at this web-site for the following reason.
To the web-site designer: Get off of your keister and realize that when you draw a line between the authors and their comments, it results in a misquote. I searched my name and read a misquote. I randomly searched Sharon Hildeman and walla, a misquote. Is this some Journalistic ploy to comfuse the readers? Thank You. Great site, bad design.

I think this is the next stage for the conglomerates. First it was print, second it was television, and now it is the internet. I'm not sure if there is enough resistance that can be used to fight back the constant and effective lobbying of special interest groups. Government by the corportations has unfortunately arrived.

At my workplace company cafeteria there are four monitors, displaying FOX, Judge Judy channel, Espn, Local Fox channel.

In the company quiet room for relaxation (i.e menstrual cramps, headaches, chill-out) there is a monitor, but kept off.

One day when no one was in the quiet room I checked. It has CNN loaded and can be viewed. However, upon my request, Human Resource Department of the company will not change one of the cafeteria monitors to view CNN as a counterpoint to FOX (O'Reily & co).

It is not just the FCC who controls what we watch. All politics is local.

Sag mal wie heisst den dieses Template auf dieser Seite? Ich hab das schon mal wo gesehen und w

Anyone here still use the Cingular branded cell phones (not the AT

Have you ever considered adding more videos to your blog posts to keep the readers more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good but since I'm more of a visual learner,I think that to be more helpful well let me know how it turns out! Videos are where the internet is going!:)

Nice post. Good information. How do I sign up for your RSS feed? Appreciate any help, I'm kind of new to all of this Internet stuff...Thanks...

I definitely think media consolidation is an issue. Because of the small amount of companies that control interest in the media, I believe fewer and fewer perspectives are covered. For example, I barely listen to the radio or watch TV, simply because they do not cater to my personal taste. Perhaps by this small group of people choosing what America puts into their minds, they will also effect what comes out, and to me, that is terrifying- sounds much like a dystopian novel.

I think that ultimately, news consolidation will turn out to be a big problem for the American public when it comes the public's understanding of the news and the truth of what it happening in the world. I feel that if only a few select companies own/cover all the information of certain news outlets, it will be difficult for the whole truth to be uncovered.

When a reader/viewer/listener of the news is learning new information on important political information or a major news event that just took place, it is important for that individual to have gained this new information from a variety of different views and opinions, not just one.

Unfortunately, I feel that with news consolidation, it is highly likely that biased information will be posted to the public. In my opinion, this is so likely because the news information given to the public will be very one-sided, which is a danger when it comes to valid information being given.

I think that ultimately, news consolidation will turn out to be a big problem for the American public when it comes the public's understanding of the news and the truth of what it happening in the world. I feel that if only a few select companies own/cover all the information of certain news outlets, it will be difficult for the whole truth to be uncovered.

When a reader/viewer/listener of the news is learning new information on important political information or a major news event that just took place, it is important for that individual to have gained this new information from a variety of different views and opinions, not just one.

Unfortunately, I feel that with news consolidation, it is highly likely that biased information will be posted to the public. In my opinion, this is so likely because the news information given to the public will be very one-sided, which is a danger when it comes to valid information being given.

(Continuation of answering questions 2 & 3)

Personally, I do feel that
I get enough lcoal news coverage because I know that my television's local news channels cover my residing city's news daily, so I make sure to watch the evening news as much as possible on weeknights.

I hope that in the future, I take advantage of my city's local newspaper so that I can begin to gain a sense of the news by reading it, rather than just watching it. Although simply turning on the television and listening/watching the evening news is a more flexible and effortless way of gaining news information than reading the daily newspaper, I feel that it is also important to read about the local news, as well.

Unfortunately, I do not know who owns my local media outlets.

I think that media consolidation is not a problem. If you compare the media to the U.S. government and its lobbyists which influence congress, hundreds of interest groups are represented which creates a hectic scenario in which the government has to please all groups. This is similar to the media because if it were not for consolidation, we would be receiving news that has to please its many investors which would cause the news to be more distorted and bias. It is the amount of power that the consolidated media has, not whether or not it is consolidated.

I feel as though I have access to a myriad of news outlets devoted to my city. There are countless newspapers, websites, and news stations that are devoted to the local news. I do not know who owns these local publications and television stations but I would guess they are subdivisions of nation networks.

Media consolidation has both positives and negatives about it just like any other topic in the world. There will always be those who support and those who are against. Personally, I think it can be beneficial as long as no two or three become the only news sources available. Having ten or so allows there to be enough The real key is to not allow a single power to be the only available source for the masses. If this were to happen then only that view would be broadcassted. No matter what way you look at it the poeple have to actually "act" and make the decision for the big companies.

Media consolidation has both positives and negatives about it just like any other topic in the world. There will always be those who support and those who are against. Personally, I think it can be beneficial as long as no two or three become the only news sources available. Having ten or so allows there to be enough The real key is to not allow a single power to be the only available source for the masses. If this were to happen then only that view would be broadcassted. No matter what way you look at it the poeple have to actually "act" and make the decision for the big companies.

Since leaving the FBI and becoming a government whistleblower, I have been sanctioned for the past decade by illegal ongoing COINTELPRO operations. In a few weeks when I publish my full story online, one section will explain the egregious criminality and conspiracy of Comcast, Inc. and their participation as an unconstitutional and anti-American actor within COINTELPRO.

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