Media Revolution

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Date set for public meeting on FCC's media ownership caps

It will be Feb. 27 in Richmond, VA. A brief story from the AP here. Public notice and press release available from the FCC here.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Safire on Media Consolidation

As I stated below, even larger and more powerful media corporations are on the horizon now that the FCC is moving to kill its remaining ownership limitations. This problem is not merely championed by those on the left. William Safire and Rudolf Giuliani have pointed at the problematic monsters created by media consolidation. As Safire says in this commentary, regulation in this case is pro-business in that it protects competition from monopoly. From Safire:

You won't find a movie nominated for an Oscar with the heroine — fighting to expose the dominance of media conglomerates in the distribution of entertainment — crushed by the giant corporation that controls film financing, distribution and media criticism.

You won't find television magazine programs fearlessly exposing the broadcast lobby's pressure on Congress and the courts to allow station owners to gobble up more stations and cross-own local newspapers, thereby to determine what information residents of a local market receive.

Nor will you find many newspaper chains assigning reporters to reveal the effect of media giantism on local coverage or cover the way publishers induce coverage-hungry politicians to loosen antitrust restraints.

Good article on bad coverage of Venezuelan situation

Brad Carlton, investigative reporter and commentator for the Baltimore Chronicle, writes this open letter to NPR:
"All Things Considered"? Not This Time.
It has just been picked up by

Carlton also has these articles last year:

Dispatch #1: Entire World Has Cause to be Concerned About What Happens in Venezuela

Dispatch #2: History of Chávez: Why He Upsets DC...also discusses coup attempts

Dispatch #3: How's Chávez Doing? Depends on Who's Talking

Teaser quotes from the last link:

--It's one thing to intellectually know that media entrusted with informing the public are misleading it. It's quite another to observe with naked eyes the truth they smother.
--The struggle in Venezuela is based on race as much as it is on class, and is as much a civil rights movement as the popular uprising that gripped the U.S. in the Sixties.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003


Over the next few months, a single federal agency will begin to fundamentally alter the nation's communications and mass media landscape, rewriting a broad swath of rules that affect the choices consumers have for getting online and the variety of television and radio programming they watch and hear. If all of the changes being reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission are enacted as proposed, major telecommunications and media corporations will be less regulated and more free to grow than at any time in decades. [Johnathan Krim, “FCC plunging headlong into media ownership fracas.” Washington Post, Jan. 4, 2003.]

The consolidation of American media is about to move forward in a very big way. In 1996, national ownership limitations on radio stations were removed, allowing dramatic empires to be built such as that of Clear Channel, which now owns over 1,200 stations nationwide. Now a raft of other ownership limitations are potentially on the chopping block at the FCC, which could allow the same sort of consolidation in the television industry, and more. As the television networks gain a larger market share of stations, their power over locally owned network affiliates will be locked. (See fourth quote, below.) Check out these quotes, but realize that I am only touching upon this problem. The best places to go are the Media Access Project and the Center for Digital Democracy.

So far, only one public hearing is scheduled on this issue. It will be in Richmond, VA, sometime in February. (Date and time TBA, check FCC’s page below.)

While the Powell FCC argues that US media have never been so competitive and diverse, expert groups--including the Writers Guild east and west, the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists, and the Newspaper Guild--provided documentation showing that all is not well with our media and communications environment. There are fewer owners of media outlets overall, fewer opportunities for creative expression, and a crisis in serious journalism. [Center for Digital Democracy, Press Release, Jan 2, 2003.]

Let me begin by saying that I don’t know of any issue before the Commission that is more fraught with serious consequences for the American people than the media ownership rules. There is the potential in the ultimate disposition of this issue to remake our entire media landscape, for better or for worse. At stake is how radio and television are going to look in the next generation and beyond. At stake are old and honored values of localism, diversity, competition, and the multiplicity of voices and choices that undergirds our American democracy. At stake is equal opportunity writ large – the opportunity to hear and be heard; the opportunity to nourish the diversity that makes this country great and which will determine its future… [Michael J. Copps, one of Five FCC Commissioners, Sept 2002.] link is a .pdf

Even under existing rules, networks exert economic leverage over TV stations by threatening to penalize them or terminate their network affiliation if they pre-empt more than a few hours of network programming. During the 2000 presidential election, for example, NBC demanded that its affiliates air game one of the American League baseball playoffs rather than the first presidential debate. After station owners protested long and hard, NBC backed down. If NBC had owned stations covering more of the nation, it could have gotten its way. [Alan Frank, Chairman of the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance, Op-Ed in USA Today, Feb 24, 2002.]

The clear trajectory of our media and communication world tends toward ever-greater corporate concentration… The notion of public service – that there should be some motive for media other than profit – is in rapid retreat if not total collapse… Public debate over the future of media and communication has been effectively eliminated by powerful and arrogant corporate media… [Robert W. McChesney, Rich Media and Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times. 1999. pp. 76-77.]

For More Info, See these important links:

Here is the FCC’s page on the subject: Media Ownership Policy Reexamination.

Does America's dollar bubble explain its imperial designs on Iraqi oil?

I'm starting to like the little kiwi site called Scoop. This article is either crazy or genius. I like it's theory of the American empire's worrisome credit rating and dissatisfaction with the House of Saud, but I think it's military analysis is weak. A siege? Aren't we just going to kick butt? Hell, what do I know?

The war build-up, coupled with detailed US-contingency planning for a post-Saddam Iraq has created the momentum for a vast, if uncertain commitment by the US in the region. How to pay for it at a time of unprecedented financial fragility and economic imbalances? In our view, the inexorable effects of imperial overstretch are clearly driving the US toward occupation of the Iraqi oil fields. We happen to agree with the assessment of Jay Bookman, an editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, when he asks, “Why does the administration seem unconcerned about an exit strategy from Iraq once Saddam is toppled? Because we won't be leaving. Having conquered Iraq, the United States will create permanent military bases in that country from which to dominate the Middle East, including neighbouring Iran.”

Monday, January 13, 2003

Weisbrot on Venezuela

In a commentary in today's Washington Post, Mark Weisbrot echoes what others in the alternative media have already said: there has not been a "general strike" in that country. It is an oil industry strike lead by the upper class. Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003


Francis Boyle, a Professor of Law at the University of Illinois, has an article titled FBI Knows Who Was Behind Anthrax Attacks. From Scoop, a New Zealand based online news source.

Bush and Korea

Here is a good article about the way Bush contributed to the North Korea problem. Also from Scoop. I like this quote from the Washington Post, which explains how the Bush admin started being cold with South Korea's outgoing president, Kim Dae Jung:

Bush, as he was eager to demonstrate, was not a fan. Kim's sin? He was instituting a sunshine policy with the North, ending a half-century of estrangement. Bush, who looked upon North Korea as the most potent argument for his obsession to build a national missile defense, saw Kim, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, as nothing but trouble. He sent him home humiliated and empty-handed. [ McGrory, " Bush's Moonshine Policy,"The Washington Post,December 29, 2002 ].