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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

With mega-media conglomerates killing Progressive talk radio and licenses coming up for renewal, will the Feds finally do their job in Wisconsin and elsewhere?...
By Sue Wilson on 11/21/2012 12:37pm PT  

There is a little known ritual that occurs in the election years when Democrats prevail: Big "Conservative" Media starts to pull progressive talk radio off the air.

I documented this in my 2009 documentary film, Broadcast Blues: after Democratic candidates made big gains in 2006, Clear Channel and other public airwaves radio licensees pulled several well performing progressive talk radio stations off the air, and replaced them with sports and other programming. It would be easier to understand if the new programs got big ratings bumps, but that didn't happen. The new shows' ratings are typically only half those of Progressive Talkers.

True to form, Clear Channel Communications, which owns about 850 radio stations nationwide, took the Progressive voices off of the public airwaves in Portland, Oregon just days after Democrats won big nationwide. When devoted listeners tuned in to Portland's 620 AM, they expected to hear Thom Hartmann, Mike Malloy and other Progressives waxing exuberant in the wake of this year's election results and looking forward to new possibilities in the new session of Congress under a wildly popular re-elected President. Instead, they heard fans exuberant over some football game or other. FoxSports620 now broadcasts over that 25,000 watt frequency on our public airwaves.

Bye bye lefty talk, hello left-handed quarterbacks.

It isn't like Portland needs another sports radio station; there are already two in that very same market. But the community does need to hear an alternative to the "conservative" talk which is broadcast on eight, count them, eight separate frequencies on Portland's radio dials.

But as of November 9th, as reported here on The BRAD BLOG, Portland joined the ranks of the other 95% of the country which can hear many stations spewing Right Wing propaganda [PDF], but not a single one broadcasting progressive points of view. A few days later, we learned that the CBS-owned Progressive station in Seattle --- also in one of the most progressive cities in the nation --- is scheduled to disappear, most likely on the first of the year. It's KPTK caller letters have already been changed to KFNQ (Fan Q) in preparation for the all sports station it is scheduled to soon become, unless something changes.

Take a look at these maps from Broadcast Blues, graphically representing the number of Rightwing vs. Progressive radio stations as of 2009....

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Sue Wilson on 6/8/2012 10:35am PT  

Guest blogged by Sue Wilson

Whatever questions remain about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's recall election, there is no question that his campaign was built on big money, the likes of which we've never seen in a gubernatorial campaign before. And where did all that money go? Right into thin air - OUR air.

And as owners of the air - our public airwaves, to be precise - there is plenty we can do to combat the corrosive effect of big money on our elections, by holding our partners in broadcasting, local TV and radio stations, accountable to the communities they serve.

Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruling that the First Amendment prohibits government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions, is the reason huge amounts of money poured into the Walker camp from third parties like the billionaire Koch Brothers and others, (compared to the relatively paltry sum given to his opponent Mayor Tom Barrett by unions and others.)

As previously noted by The BRAD BLOG:

Focus will turn to the unprecedented amount of dark money raised and spent in the election, with Walker's campaign raising at least $30.5 million (a majority of it coming from out of state) to Barrett's $3.9 million. That, of course, is just the money raised by the two campaigns themselves. It doesn't take into affect the extraordinary amount of money spent by outside groups on behalf of the candidates, largely in support of Walker by a reportedly outsized ratio of 25 to 1.

So the Walker recall gave us the first glimpse at how the infamous Supreme Court ruling will affect campaigns for years to come unless something changes. . There is a large and growing movement now from organizations such as Move to Amend, to amend the Constitution to help put the brakes on the unlimited spending allowed by Citizens United. Such an effort, however, will take years to accomplish, if it ever happens at all.

But what's not being talked about is where most of this unrestricted money goes: about half of all campaign dollars go directly into your local radio and TV stations' wallets --- local broadcast stations which get licensed in the public/private partnership of broadcasting ONLY IF they "serve the public convenience, interest, and necessity."

As to the First Amendment, the Supreme Court has also ruled, in Red Lion v. FCC that "it is the right of the viewing and listening public, and not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount."

Nonetheless, until Citizens United is changed or overridden in some fashion, things are only going to get worse --- unless we the people do something about it now with a few, still-unused tools that remain at our disposal...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




(And can the Supreme Court be far behind?)
By Sue Wilson on 5/29/2012 10:56am PT  

Guest blogged by Sue Wilson

Anyone remember a time when radio seemed friendly and informative, rather than hostile and manipulative?

I do. And I remember when it changed in 1996, after Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act into law, and suddenly, huge corporations like Clear Channel began using our public airwaves --- those scarce radio frequencies which are owned by us ALL --- as a hammer to pummel Clinton and all other Democrats.

I've been working to correct the problem ever since 1998. I've advocated rewriting the Telecommunications Act, made the film Broadcast Blues to educate people about the problem, founded the Media Action Center to get local groups communicating with their local broadcasters, filed petitions to deny stations' licenses, and more.

Nothing worked.

But now, I believe I have found the legal means to put Talk Radio on trial at the FCC --- and perhaps eventually at the Supreme Court --- and, ironically enough, we just may have embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to thank for it...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Attempt to ease media consolidation rules overturned by court...
By Sue Wilson on 7/8/2011 12:41pm PT  

Guest blogged by Sue Wilson

The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia handed the public a huge victory on Thursday, and giant corporations a rare loss, in their decision [PDF] on a case that (ironically enough, given the subject matter) most of the public knew nothing about, but one which has the potential to benefit real people with better quality news and information for decades to come.

The case, Prometheus Radio Project v FCC, pitted "Citizen Petitioners" who seek more persons owning local media outlets to ensure diversity in viewpoints and news coverage, versus "Deregulatory Petitioners" who want fewer persons (spell that "corporations") to own local media outlets, and the publicly-owned broadcast airwaves that go with them, in order to enhance their profits.

At stake were the rules determining how many local TV and radio stations one company can own in a single market; whether a newspaper owner can also own a TV or radio station in the same town; and how broadcast ownership by minorities and women should be handled.

The Deregulators challenged the FCC's constitutional and legal authority to set rules and restrictions on ownership of broadcast spectrum licenses, while the Citizen Petitioners sought to protect the FCC's authority, even while challenging a number of new rules the agency speciously attempted to enact without appropriate public input.

Six attorneys representing Free Press, Media Alliance, The United Church of Christ, and Prometheus Radio Project went up against 48 lawyers representing such corporate behemoths as Clear Channel, CBS, Belo, FOX, Cox, Sinclair, Tribune, and Gannett, and groups including the National Association of Broadcasters, plus another 8 attorneys for the FCC and 5 more from the US Department of Justice. The case became a classic David v. Goliath struggle.

The good news this time around, at least for the moment, David finally won one...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Sue Wilson on 4/28/2011 4:45pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Sue Wilson

After revealing his "long form" birth certificate Wednesday, President Obama scolded the news media for letting this non-issue become a national obsession.

But if President Obama really wants to restore reporting to its rightful role, he needs to act on commitments he made immediately after his inauguration. As I wrote in September 2009 for The BRAD BLOG:

Shortly after Barack Obama was sworn in as President last January, as Brad Friedman reported at the time, the new White House website "Technology" page signaled a hopeful change, and a call to re-examine the oversight of our public airwaves:

Encourage Diversity in Media Ownership: Encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation's spectrum.

Okay, let me connect some dots here.

For more than two years, GOP extremists have made the President's birth certificate an issue that has successfully permeated the country's consciousness. According to a New York Times-CBS News poll last week, 43% of the country is not sure Barack Obama was born in this country, despite long standing factual evidence to the contrary.

How did GOP extremists manage to make a non issue such a huge issue? They used the power of broadcasting to beat the drums of paranoia into 50 million people across our land. They used the power of talk radio, which they have used successfully tomarginalize Democrats and anyone else outside their narrow point of view.

That's right. According to Arbitron, 53 million people listen to talk radio every day in this country. When Glenn Beck loses his Fox "News" audience of 2 million, he still will have his radio audience of 10 million...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Sue Wilson on 1/12/2011 2:02pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Sue Wilson

A moment in the culture.

A moment like Columbine, like Fort Hood, like Oklahoma City, yet different; different because the madman's rampage that targeted Tucson, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was predictable.

It's hot in Tucson --- temperatures soar to 117 degrees in the summertime. But that's nothing compared to the political heat generated recently in this community just an hour north of the Mexican border. Nowhere in the country were the 'Tea Parties' angrier than in Arizona; rage over healthcare and immigration reform boiled over in Tucson.

It had been bad already, even before Obama had been elected to office in 2008. Take a look at this remarkable list of eliminationist rhetoric coming from the Right, as compiled as long ago as March 2007. But, as if that wasn't horrible enough, things have gotten even far worse since then.

Who wouldn't be incensed? Reports of increased crime, beheadings on the borders, government takeover of health care, death panels. Given all that, who would not stand and fight to protect their grandmothers?

If all that were actually true. But of course, it is not true. Those reports and other fabrications like them are a creation of Right Wing Talk Radio. It isn't just the vitriol spewing from Savage and Hannity and Boortz and others, it is what is behind the vitriol: a genuine fear born of propaganda. And as a culture, we the people are buying into it.

So, regardless of whether the alleged shooter Jared Lee Loughner actually listened to any of the six "Conservative" stations on the dial in Tucson, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was correct when he blamed the attack on a cultural environment built of Talk Radio...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Sue Wilson on 10/21/2010 10:31pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Sue Wilson

In the October issue of O magazine, Democratic consultant and commentator Donna Brazile did the unthinkable: she used the "F" word --- in Oprah Winfrey's publication, no less! Eyebrows are being raised across the political spectrum.

Okay, not that "F" word, a different one which is, apparently, far more controversial these days: Brazile says that if she "were in charge" her first priority would be to bring back the Fairness Doctrine." She says that that would require "holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance in an honest, equitable, and balanced fashion."

To the uninitiated, bringing Fairness to the public airwaves --- broadcast radio and TV --- is a no-brainer. But to Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and an army of 550,000 amassed to keep the nation's radio airwaves under "conservative" control, Brazile's declaration of priorities could be a call to arms. Is it possible that the Democratic establishment is finally ready for a fight to take control of their message? While no longer with the DNC, Brazile is still closely aligned with the Democratic power establishment after all.

Okay, time for a bit of history.

Our elders will remember a time when radio was America's number one source of news and information. And they remember being horrified at how Tokyo Rose and our enemies used the radio airwaves to promote hate and propaganda against the U.S.

So they watched as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and radio station owners worked together to prevent propaganda from ever being broadcast over the public airwaves in these United States of America. This coalition of government and business put the "Fairness Doctrine" in place to ensure a healthy, reasoned discourse so critical to our democracy.

The thing is --- and a point important for those who believe much more information is now available on cable and the Internet --- radio is still America's number one source of news and information. More people listen to radio than watch television, read newspapers, or go online. Nearly fifty million people in the U.S. listen to talk radio.

But Fairness? Equal Time? Reasoned discourse? Those went out the window in 1987 with - drumroll, please - President Ronald Reagan...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




What about 'the public interest' in the death of Jennifer Strange?...
By Sue Wilson on 9/7/2010 3:41pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Sue Wilson

Wow. The FCC just fined a radio station $4,000 for getting a date wrong in some radio contest rules. If that infraction is worth four grand, whatever will the FCC do to the station which killed someone because it failed to give contestants any rules at all?

Will the FCC find that such a 'murder-by-radio' did not, in fact, serve the "public interest" which broadcasters are supposed to uphold in exchange for their free license to use our public airwaves?

DJs at Nassau Broadcasting's WWEG-FM, "106.9 The Eagle" in Myerson, MD, had broadcast rules that a Father's Day contest would be open "through June 13, 2008." But the contest actually ended June 12, apparently depriving would-be contestants of their right to enter. Two years later, the FCC is punishing WWEG for violation of Section 73.1216 of the Commission's rules, which state that broadcast licensees must "fully and accurately disclose the material terms" of any contests that it conducts, and "conduct the contest substantially as announced or advertised."

Okay. Let's now contrast that swift accountability in the public's interest, against what happened when Sacramento's Entercom Communications station, KDND, the unfortunately nicknamed "107.9 The End", didn't follow its own rules when it ran a water drinking contest which resulted in the January 2007 death of a mother of three, Jennifer Strange. This is a case where a jury found the station liable for Strange's death, awarding her family more than $16 million, even as the corporation who has been granted the broadcast license has yet to face a single sanction from the FCC…

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Rightwing 'Tea Partier,' talk show host, calls for the waste of federal tax dollars...
By Sue Wilson on 7/2/2010 2:35pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Sue Wilson

Just days after resigning as Chairman of the Tea Party Express, Mark Williams, former talk show host at Sacramento's KFBK radio, began encouraging people to file claims for the BP fund which is being set up to provide financial assistance to those damaged by the Gulf oil spill. He's not just encouraging residents of the Gulf or those who do business with Gulf Coast fisheries to file claims; he is encouraging everyone in the country to file a claim against BP, and brags about having done so himself.

Williams asserts on his blog, MarkTalk.com, that in so filing, people are not stealing. He writes, "You are only recouping some of your own money that the Obama regime is stealing from you to redistribute," and he cites fund administrator Ken Feinberg as telling people "we should '...all file a claim…' because specific criteria for valid claims has not yet been set."

He further writes, "Let's show the Marxists who occupy our government and their flying monkey supporters what life under socialism is really like when the productive stop producing and join the gravy train."

The BP fund, according to a conversation I had with Feinberg's office this week, "is paid entirely by BP." Even the administration of the fund is paid by the private corporation which caused the spill. "There are no merits to claim that U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill."

Nonetheless, Williams describes the fund as run by "Marxists", constituting "life under socialism", and as nothing short of a "gravy train". Yet, oddly enough, it's the "conservative" Mark Williams, whose agenda could lead to the waste of untold numbers of tax-payer dollars...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Republicans amass an army to retain corporate control of the public airwaves...
By Sue Wilson on 9/15/2009 2:53pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Sue Wilson

I was strolling through my local county fair this summer, a small fair, a friendly fair, where cows, sheep, and pigs outnumber food vendors.

The Republican booth caught my eye, but not because of the red, white, and blue decorations. What caught my eye was the sign they'd posted, the sign that summed up the one key issue of importance to local Republicans.

What would it be, in this raucous political summer of 2009? Anger over bailouts, fear over death panels? No. The number one issue for Amador County Republicans: "Save Talk Radio."

I hadn't realized that the industry that just signed a $400 million contract with Rush Limbaugh needed saving, but they thought so; they even had a petition to save it...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Sue Wilson on 8/18/2009 2:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Sue Wilson

On August 11, 2009, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, in a unanimous vote, became the first elected body in the United States to stand up to Hate Radio. Their resolution urges "the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct a comprehensive investigation on hate speech in the media, allowing public participation via public hearings, and asks the NTIA [National Telecommunications and Information Administration] to update its 1993 report on the Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crimes."

For two years, San Francisco's Hispanic/Latino Anti-Defamation Coalition (HLADC) has been trying to get some traction on this issue. They've staged rallies against Michael Savage, worked with the Media Alliance, Common Cause and Broadcast Blues to protest hate radio, and supported the National Hispanic Media Coalition's campaign to convince the FCC and NTIA to act. But HLADC leader Aurora Grajedas saw she could better effect national change by working with her own city's board of supervisors. Acting locally is a good lesson for all activists.

Still, there is resistance to any such study, as opponents charge these groups are trying to shut down the first amendment. But let us be clear, Radio Speech is not Free Speech. I will stand by Glenn Beck's right to stand on the street corner and say illegal immigrants should be made into a new fuel called "Mexinol." I may not like it, but I stand by his right to say it. But there is a difference between shouting on the street corner and broadcasting all over the country.

Broadcasting pioneers witnessed the power of propaganda with radio Tokyo Rose, so they worked with government on two key broadcast regulations. First, to qualify for a license to broadcast on the public airwaves, stations had to serve the public interest, which became defined as local news, political debates, equal time, and a rule that said no personal attacks. Second, one person could own just 6 radio stations, nationwide. There were a lot of "street corners" in radio.

Today there are almost none...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




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