Stop The FCC! End the Media Monopoly!If you're concerned about a few big companies controlling our country's access to news, information, and entertainment, please join me in letting Congress know now.
While Secretary of State Colin Powell led the U.S. invasion against Iraq, his son, Michael Powell, head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), ramped up an attack on federal media regulations that could give the corporate media even more power than it already has. Five single companies now have a stranglehold on nearly all the news and information the public has access to. If Powell has his way, this will get even worse; there will be nothing standing in the way of media companies drive for profits at the expense of our democracy.
We have already seen the effects of the 1996 media deregulation: five television companies--General Electric (MSNBC and NBC), News Corp (Fox), Disney (ABC), AOL-Time Warner (CNN), and Viacom (CBS)--have a stranglehold on what information the public gets to know, and corporate radio behemoths like Clear Channel Communications devour local radio stations and replace them with McRadio. If Powell has his way, the situation will get even worse; there will be nothing standing in the way of media companies drive for profits at the expense of our democracy.
Clear Channel Communications is the poster child of everything that's wrong with media deregulation. After the media deregulation of 1996, Clear Channel gobbled up hundreds of radio stations throughout the country and now owns more than 1200 stations nationwide, dominating the audience share in 100 of 112 major markets. Not only is the company the worlds largest radio broadcaster, it's also the world largest concert promoter and billboard advertising firm.
Clear Channel's monopolistic practices have accelerated the homogenization of our airwaves. The company promotes cookie-cutter style radio that has urban stations throughout the country seemingly playing the same seven songs. It shuts out independent artists who can't afford to go through high-priced middlemen and is responsible for taking the practice of voice tracking to new heights. Voice tracking creates brief, computer-assisted voice segments that attempt to fool the listener into thinking that a program is locally produced, when in fact the same content is being broadcast to upwards of 75 stations nationwide from a central site.
Clear Channel also uses its stations to promote its right-wing political agenda. After September 11, the company came to the public's attention when executives circulated a list of blacklisted songs including John Lennon's Imagine and Cat Stevens' Peace Train. This year Clear Channel became one of the first media companies in recent times to sponsor a political rally--they sponsored pro-war rallies in cities around the country before and during the war on Iraq. Another "Rally for America" was held in Huntington, West Virginia at Memorial Day weekend. Clear Channel has become notorious for using its stations to pummel listeners with a mind-numbing stream of uncritical `patriotism'.
If the FCC passes Michael Powell's proposed new media rules, companies like Clear Channel and Fox will be given even more control over the public airwaves than they already have. And we are likely to see in television the same type of feeding frenzy we saw in the radio industry after the 1996 media deregulation.
Later this week or early next week, the Senate will likely take up its last major vote on media reform, and it'll be very close. After a grassroots groundswell tipped the balance toward rolling back the FCC rule change that would allow greater media concentration, lobbyists from big media conglomerates have been working around the clock to tip it back.
On Wednesday, MoveOn.org will be holding a crucial press conference with Senator Dorgan (D-ND) and Senator Snowe (R-ME) and groups across the political spectrum to highlight the broad opposition to the FCC rule change. MoveOn needs to show that over 100,000 people have voiced their demand that the Senate vote to roll back the rule change. Please help us reach 100,000 signers by this Wednesday -- you can join me in signing at:
Together, we can make sure that America's media is diverse, competitive, and balanced.
For more information: Read more about Clear Channel here
Take 3 Minutes To Stop Media Monopoly From Pacifica Radio's WBAI.
Our Cultural Sovereignty A report from Canada on a similar situation there.