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The Media United States

FCC Approves Media Consolidation 899

Posted by simoniker
from the monopoly-players-pass-go dept.
evenprime writes "You can expect more media consolidation in the future. CBS is reporting that the FCC has approved the media deregulation that was previously discussed on Slashdot. Expect Clear Channel, Viacom and their kin to get bigger, and the radio to have even less diversity (a situation that some people think is responsible for falling CD sales)."
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FCC Approves Media Consolidation

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  • by Colonel Panic (15235) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:20PM (#6097014)
    ...and no rules to bind them...
    • All units converge on the last known location of "Colonel Panic" for prompt, efficient, friendly reeducation.

      All those found conversing with the thought criminal will be treated in the same manner. Have a nice day. Or else.

    • by BWJones (18351) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:40PM (#6097254) Homepage Journal
      ...and no rules to bind them...

      Gee, and why should they? After all, companies know what's best for the consumer, right? Hey, I want all of my news and entertainment to come from just a couple companies who can disseminate their news, products and viewpoints, that way we are not so confused by different sides of reality.

      I'll tell ya folks, the truth is about to become muddier to the average citizen, and yet much more difficult to discern for those that actually are interested in the truth.

    • by Pollux (102520) <speter.tedata@net@eg> on Monday June 02, 2003 @01:17PM (#6097711) Journal
      ...the Golden Rule. You know...he who has the gold makes the rules.

      It's rather sad, really. Here's a good example why: My home state is North Dakota. When Grand Forks and Fargo had a three-day ice storm during the winter of '96-'97, there was a radio station in town which 24-7 covered every single piece of news or announcement related to the event. Even with the phone lines down, our high school speech team was able to use the radio to tell everybody back home that we were alright.

      On the other hand, a little more than a year ago, Minot (town of about 38,000 people in central North Dakota) had a train carrying anhydrous ammonia (cheap fertilizer) that derailed in the town early in the morning. Everybody instinctively turned on the radio (either after hearing the crash, seeing a huge white cloud of ammonia coming their way, or feeling the smoke burn their lungs) to find out what was going on, only to hear music. Six of the seven radio stations in Minot are owned by ClearChannel. Afterwards, when asked for a comment, ClearChannel said that they were in the business of playing music and selling advertising, not 24-7 local news coverage.

      It's about the money.
  • by OutRigged (573843) <rage@outrigged . c om> on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:21PM (#6097021) Homepage
    I gave up watching TV and listening to the radio long ago. There's simply nothing good on anymore, and the radio has been crap for years. I'm sure many of you feel the same way.
    • by DeltaSigma (583342) <onu.public@g m a i l . com> on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:24PM (#6097065) Journal
      You can count me amongst those who feel that television and radio are worthless.

      Companies have completely forgotten that there are SOME customers who absolutely do not make impulse buys and will come to them when they are good and ready, and only if they have a superior product.
    • by TheWickedKingJeremy (578077) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:30PM (#6097138) Homepage
      I gave up watching TV and listening to the radio long ago. There's simply nothing good on anymore, and the radio has been crap for years. I'm sure many of you feel the same way.

      I feel exactly the same way. However, it still matters, whether you or I choose to watch it or not. More power in the hands of fewer people will affect you regardless. They will have more power to control elections; more power to sell wars; more power to do anything they want. The crappy music that gets pumped over the airwaves is the *least* of my worries when talking about media deregulation.

      Time to get a new sig I suppose... :(
    • Almost entirely.

      Occasionally there are a few jems. Theres a Jazz station I used to listen to in DC, when I actually owned a radio. Is that still around?

      Television still produces a couple of fantastic shows each season. The Simpsons and King of the Hill are continually entertaining and intelligent.

      Oddly enough, one of the reasons the Simpsons still maintain an edge after all these years is that they refuse notes from execs. Writers get free reign in the show. Hence the lack of a "corporate feel."

      Comedy C
    • seems like you get around a lot [theonion.com]

      Kidding aside, I absolutely agree with you. I think Dean Kootz put it best in his novel "Sieze the Night" when he stated that the collective intelligence of a family drops 5 IQ points per TV in a household.
    • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:52PM (#6097403) Homepage
      I don't watch TV anymore, nor do I listen to much radio except to and from work. It is a vast sea of crap with only a few spots of non-crap to break up the monotony.

      That said, this is still important, because many people do still tune in to mass media, and they use it as their primary source of news and information. Whoever controls that information can to a large degree influence what the public is thinking or talking about, and to a slightly lesser degree, what they think about what everyone else is thinking or talking about.

      Democracy requires open debate and open information in order to be viable. Consolidation prevents this by choking off divergent points of view.
  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by (54)T-Dub (642521) * <tpaine.gmail@com> on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:21PM (#6097028) Journal
    "If I were a record seller, I'd lay heaps of blame on radio, which used to be 80 per cent of the reason people bought music. ..... Today, that figure is closer to 20 per cent, insiders say."

    I know the radio sucks, but I had no idea that the record industry felt the same way. Seems like everything to do with music needs a remodel.
    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by swb (14022) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:36PM (#6097194)
      I know the radio sucks, but I had no idea that the record industry felt the same way.

      The music industry hates radio monopoly for the same reason consumers do -- if you own all the stations, it's a lot easier to demand more payola^H^H^H^H^Hmarketing support from the record companies, since they can't shop their product around to other stations as easily.

      But don't worry, someone *cough*Disney*cough*AOL-TW*cough* will figure out that if you own the labels and the stations, it's an even better deal.
      • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

        by jdunlevy (187745) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:49PM (#6097358) Homepage
        This whole line of thought (more diversity in radio airplay --> more records artists/songs exposedt to the public --> more demand --> more sales) is why it's so strange that the RIAA came out so opposed to making it easy for alternative radio stations to enter the webcasting race. More diverse webcasting could partly offset reduced diversity in over-the-air broadcasting, and drive sales.

        I'm forced to conclude that the RIAA knows that more diverse, alternative radio stations are also more likely to play independent artists and are (maybe) less likely to accept payola, so the RIAA is afraid that the increased sales won't necessarily be of major label releases, and that is the explanation for their opposition to webcasting.

  • BBC (Score:5, Informative)

    by agrounds (227704) * on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:22PM (#6097032)
    Neo-conservatives strike again! Thanks Mr. Powell!

    The continuing decline of the overall quality of US radio has been my primary motivation in finding alternative music sources. I tried shoutcast and spinner as well as some of the smaller webcast groups. Eventually, I just started listening to Radio 1 from the BBC. This now streams into my home 24/7 as well as my laptop at work. I have never looked back. Hopefully as folks start becoming more disgusted by the dumbed-down and monotonous crap that Clear Channel pumps into Everytown, USA, folks will start to look abroad for entertainment. The music is out there, you just have to look beyond the borders.

    Here ya go!
    Radio 1 - Rock and Pop [bbc.co.uk]
    Radio 1 Xtra - Rap and Hip Hop [bbc.co.uk]

    Some of the music is exactly what you hear in the US on Clear Channel stations, but there is a hell of a lot more music-base to generate the playlists.

    While you're there, be sure to read/stream the news. CNN has been becoming even more remarkable selective in what they post lately. Another symptom of the disease that infects the deregulated media industries.

    Enjoy!
    • Bad example (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dj28 (212815)
      The BBC is a government subsidized quasi-monopoly. Using the BBC as a good example when it comes to media consolidation is abolsutely stupid, since they stand for what we are NOT wanting to happen to US media.
      • Re:Bad example (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MKalus (72765) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .sulakm.> on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:45PM (#6097317) Homepage
        [...] since they stand for what we are NOT wanting to happen to US media.

        Why? As you can see the "free market" thing isn't working that well.

        In fact chances are you get a more balanced view of the world by a government funded news agency (that is as long as same is in a "democratic" state) than you will get from commercial news media.

        Why? Because the people who work for example at the BBC [bbc.co.uk] are very much aware that people think of them as the voice of the government and they will try very hard not to act as a propaganda instrument.

        Now private companies like Fox don't have that trouble because everybody seems to think they are independent, when in fact they rely way more on politics than say the BBC [bbc.co.uk], Deutsche Welle [dw-tv.de] or the CBC [www.cbc.ca].
      • Re:Bad example - NOT (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ajm (9538)
        Because the BBC is government subsidized it tries extra hard to be "independent". Unlike, perhaps, FOX, which is "idenpendent" but toes the Bush line most closely. Just look at the Jessica Lynch coverage from the BBC and compare with what you see in the US. Them complain about bias, and compain to FOX
        • What? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dj28 (212815)
          It's no more independent than any other media. In fact, the BBC was charged by one of their own reporters of skewing the news coverage of the Iraq war.
      • And yet... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by smcv (529383) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:47PM (#6097338) Homepage
        The BBC do have the advantage that they're a government-funded public service, rather than a profit-making business. In the worst case, that'd make them as bad as you describe, but they seem to have avoided that.

        (They do have pretty serious competition on mainstream TV from the commercial ITV and Channel 4, although commercial radio is bad enough here that the BBC wins by default)

        They're often rather critical of the government, actually, and in many disputes they're accused of being biased by both sides, which might well mean they're uncomfortably close to being balanced.

        It's amusing to see the grandparent post commenting on Radio 1's larger playlists though, since some of the Radio 1 DJs have been known to complain (subtly, of course) about the commercial crap they're made to play. I hate to think what Clear Channel must be like if that's an improvement :-)
      • Re:Bad example (Score:4, Insightful)

        by aborchers (471342) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:50PM (#6097376) Homepage Journal
        For the record, I believe the poster merely advocated the BBC as a source with wider variety on the entertainment content and reporting of news that is, for one reason or another, neglected in the major US media.

        Nonetheless, comparing the BBC to an unregulated corporate convergence in the US media is similarly stupid. The forces involved are just too different. A service that answers to the government (nominally the public) and one that answers only to the bottom line are two entirely different things. The BBC has much more in common with, say, NPR than it does with Viacom or News Corp.

        Take the FCC rule changes as a case in point. I have known about it for months because I follow things like slashdot and NPR, but the first mention I heard of it on NBC was a week ago, and on CNN just this past weekend. Gee, I can't imagine why these corporate news sources that stand to benefit most from the rule changes didn't bother to mention them until it was too late for anyone to react and they were just an aside for a foregone conclusion. This above all other things has me thinking these rule changes were a seriously bad idea.

  • Strange days (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TopShelf (92521) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:23PM (#6097038) Homepage Journal
    It's strange indeed that the over-the-air broadcasters successfully complained about the threat of cable, when GE, Disney, Viacom and Fox are hip-deep in cable properties themselves. Gotta love them lobbyists!
  • by L. VeGas (580015) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:23PM (#6097043) Homepage Journal
    I like all kinds of music.
    As long as the radio plays both top-40 and pop, it doesn't really matter to me.

  • Whoo-Hooo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by ambisinistral (594774) <jim@jBLUEazzopolis.com minus berry> on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:23PM (#6097049) Homepage
    Now I'll be able to get even more Clear Channel stations on my radio! My motto is: you can never have too much gruel.

    • Re:Whoo-Hooo! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jamesoutlaw (87295) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:30PM (#6097134) Homepage
      haha! exactly. Here in Memphis there are about 4 different stations with similar playlists. The really funny thing is that you can start on one station and hear a particular song... switch to any one of the others and you will hear the same song within 10 minutes. Sometimes you can flip through all four stations and you will hear the exact same thing playing on one or two of the other stations. I've pretty much stopped listening to the radio because of it.
  • PBS anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by atallah (71112) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:23PM (#6097053)
    Perhaps it will be up to PBS to step up and become a real news source much like NPR is on the radio. (True NPR as its own biases, but they seem much less pronounced than any of my alternatives.)
  • Explanation? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JayBlalock (635935) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:25PM (#6097076)
    Has Powell, at ANY point, actually outlined how he thinks that allowing for further broadcast television consolidation will help it compete with cable? I could have SWORN the main reason people get cable was for the diversity of the programming.
  • by eludom (83727) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:25PM (#6097077) Homepage
    Sounds like it's time to start maintainin
    a list (web site, blog...) of the
    non-alignend radio & TV stations....vote
    with your tuner.
  • by abcxyz (142455) * on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:26PM (#6097090) Homepage
    It increases the ownership from 35% to 45%, but prevents mergers from the big 4 (Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC). I'm not sure the % increase would make a huge difference anyway, but by not allowing the big guys to merge will keep some semblance of diversity in programming. That's assuming you think there is currently any diversity in OTA offerings.

    Also the radio markets are still limited to a max. of 8 in markets of 45 or greater stations. Same issue as above, if there is no variety now, how in the world are they going to make it much worse?

    -- Rick
    • Huge (Score:5, Interesting)

      by moc.tfosorcimgllib (602636) on Monday June 02, 2003 @01:27PM (#6097807) Journal
      The Newspapers, TV Stations, and Radio stations will soon have the same parent company.
      In reality this will hurt in that Newspapers will be bought by bigger corporations (clear channel), and the content will be dumbed down, local personalities will be "Right-sized" to control profit margins in place of Market researched personalities.

      This hurts, and you will notice the difference. Right now newspapers and newsstations keep each other in check by double-checking facts. Soon you will have one person double-checking facts for the radio, newspaper, and television. You get one slant, one idea, and one perspective from all three. That is where the diversity will be lost. I hope you like reading BBC newspapers over the internet, because soon that's where the best news you get will come from.

  • Fine By Me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by weston (16146) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:27PM (#6097099) Homepage
    Fine by me. In fact, maybe more than fine. If the entire modern entity that is radio wants to specialize and specialize further, when tech changes enough, they're gonna fall hard, just like any other entity that adapts itself to one set of conditions and attempts to preserve it.

  • by Rahga (13479) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:27PM (#6097102) Homepage Journal
    We can finally get Hal... er.. that is, Carson Daily to bring a digitized... er, again, I mean a personalized local Top 20 program to Temple, TX! Howard Stern will start pushing Textile Fabrication Vermont Teddy Bears to the local Wilsonart guys! It's a great day to be an American!
  • by Brians256 (562930) * on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:28PM (#6097104) Homepage
    With media conglomerations owning local channels, there is no incentive to provide news with a local slant. Thus, no one will hear about local issues. Since (thanks to the incredible human intelligence) nothing exists unless we see/hear it, small cities will cease to exist. I say that only partially in jest, but think about how many local issues that get squashed because it conflicts with a more profitable (in the minds of the corporate master) slant? Local environmental impact? Oh, no. Mustn't give that airtime lest it impact the profit machines in the big cities. Also, how about this for a twist on the first amendment? Condider offensive material. People in different areas have different standards, and THAT'S OK. If your city believes that the Golden Girls are the harem of Satan, it should be able to keep Golden Girl re-runs off their local stations. More power to'em. We shouldn't force global culture to be homogenous, even in the name of "Free Speech" and equal access. Ahh... yet more reasons for rejoicing in our household. We have taken our media budget (TV, movies, etc...) and plowed it into books and other activities.
    • ...think about how many local issues that get squashed because it conflicts with a more profitable (in the minds of the corporate master) slant? Local environmental impact? Oh, no. Mustn't give that airtime lest it impact the profit machines in the big cities....

      This is why I'm not clear on the uproar surrounding the FCC decision. If those types of stories are deemed important enough to a community, then what's stopping an independant media outlet from reporting them? In most markets, independant media

  • How soon until (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Angry White Guy (521337) <CaptainBurly[AT]goodbadmovies.com> on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:29PM (#6097120)
    somebody sets up 'public access' style internet TV? IPv6 has great multicast handling, and we're getting more and more bandwidth at home. We essentially have all the tools, and millions of potential channels. Anything you want to watch, when you want to watch it, all for the price of cable or dsl.
    • Re:How soon until (Score:3, Informative)

      by homer_ca (144738)
      I'm guessing that "public access" radio might be closer with its lower bandwidth and production cost requirements. I could easily forsee some kind of Wi-Fi peer-to-peer device blowing the radio market wide open. The software might resemble the streamer [u-net.com] p2p protocol, but optimized with multicasting and some way to elect repeater nodes. Assuming a real world bandwidth of 1Mb/s, that gives us 16 64Kb/s channels. Not exactly an abundance of channels, but it's a start.
  • Welcome to HELL. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:30PM (#6097132)
    Soon, there will only be a single, united group of consolidated conglomerates, where it will be impossible to discern if what you are watching is entertainment, news, or just a clever marketing ploy. The saddest part of all is that the average citizen doesn't know or care. From American Idol to soundalike "Gangsta Rap," -trademark used by permission of ClearChannel - it is a seamless integration into our culture, where we are being trained by the richest 1% to be complacent with whatever is produced. The ultimate goal is to turn our lives into an MTV frenzy.

    And it is working.

    During the Iraq war I heard it said that the Iraqis had state run media, controlled entirely by the government.

    We have corporate controlled media. Which is worse, I wonder?

    Like figuring out which dildo hurts least going in...
  • by Sloppy (14984) * on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:30PM (#6097136) Homepage Journal
    So, what's the recourse? Should people appeal to Congress? FCC gets their power from them. Congress just has to say there's no FCC anymore and that from now on, the spectrum will be regulated by something that is accountable to the public. (Not that there's any chance of it happening, but that's one way to fix the problem.)

    One thing that disappoints me about this, is that the vote was on party lines, with Republicans on one side and Democrats on the other. Are Republicans (generally) really in favor of simultaneously deregulating while continuing to grant the government-backed monoplies that prevent free market competition? Or is this just the usual case of whoever-happens-to-be-in-power being corrupt, where Republicans (the people, I mean, not the politicians) are shaking their heads at how they've been sold out? Republicans, please answer: are you getting what you wanted, or are you being betrayed by poseur "Republicans"?

    Or have you not figured it out yet, so you're suffering from a vague uneasiness that you can't explain? ;-)

  • What isn't mentioned (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smoondog (85133) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:31PM (#6097142)
    What isn't mentioned is that there is growing bipartisan distaste for this ruling [go.com]. Trent Lott and several democrats have spoken out against it and are talking of bringing the issue to congress. Hopefully more republicans will jump off ship and support Lott and the others.

    -Sean
  • by aerojad (594561) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:32PM (#6097161) Homepage Journal
    Jukebox Jihad

    That whole comment and the "What would Elvis do to stop piracy?" really annoys me to death. The Jihad comment for taking the word of the month (you know, terror, evil people, so on, so forth), and appling it to something that doesn't relate in the least.

    Why doesn't the industry start talking about real leaks in their profits? Bad press for suing kids for $97 billion comes to mind, a price fixing scandal in the mid 90's gets on that list too, but above all, the state of music, the state of repetative crap that continues to be put out... it's like if 31 flavors determined that most people liked choclate and vanilla. You could get those two and only those two flavors at the counter. The others were still available, but you would have to go to black-market 31 flavors to enjoy it, all the while being called a criminal for spending money you never would have spent if you never made the effort to look for more flavors in the first place.

    The industry must nevertheless also content itself with conducting business on a more modest scale, painful though the process might be. No one needs to spend in excess of $40 million on a record, as Sony did with Michael Jackson's 2001 flop, Invincible, for instance, when the White Stripes can muster a hit record for $10,000.

    That's because the White Stripes is good, and Michael Jackson is getting old. By the way, I like how they skip mentioning that the "flop" sold many millions of records, just not on the same scale as previous, and I don't believe that "Elephant" (latest White Stripes) has cracked 1 million sold anywhere yet...
  • by crazyphilman (609923) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:34PM (#6097177) Journal
    Oceania is now allied with Eastasia. Oceania has ALWAYS been allied with Eastasia.
  • for what it's worth (Score:3, Informative)

    by rock_climbing_guy (630276) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:35PM (#6097187) Journal
    I believe that I heard it said on the radio ( on the Rush Limbaugh program, I think ) that Clear Channel owns about 11% of the marketshare in radio.

    Has anyone else heard this statistic or know where I can find a source in print?

  • by zptdooda (28851) <`deanpjm' `at' `gmail.com'> on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:36PM (#6097208) Journal
    The agency was also six months behind on completing its biennial review. Under a congressional law, the FCC is supposed to revisit its media rules every two years. ... and some urged the agency to ignore its deadline.

    Revisiting the rules so frequently gives too much opportunity for rules to relax to quickly.

    It's like continually asking the question "were we right?", then rolling the dice.

    It's a complex issue, requiring lots of information to be collected and assessed. If this is rushed, it makes it too easy to make a bad call.

    To badly paraphrase "the progress of a society cannot be increased just by speeding it up".

    I think the Ents had it right.
  • by anomaly (15035) <tom.cooper3 @ g m a i l.com> on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:37PM (#6097214)
    Is that this is a good thing for content producers. Think of it this way:
    When consumers major media outlets completely cease to produce anything other than plain gelatin in terms of content, who will fill the void? More and more media choices are available every day. Even through the mainstream channel of cable and satellite options, there are more choices and more content produced.

    When people find something creative and appealing, it will give a leg up on the regurgitated reality fare offered by the major players.

    Anyone who thinks that they get the straight scoop from any major outlets - NY Times, Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, slashdot.... - needs to have their preconceptions evaluated.

    The future of broadcasting is not to be found in the major media outlets. They will be left behind by the next generation of media. It's coming, and making programming more mindless will only hasten the death of TV as we know it.

    This could be a great thing.

    Respectfully,
    Anomaly
  • by Big Dave Diode (2911) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:37PM (#6097220) Homepage
    Dan Gillmor wrote a column in advance of this decision, worth a read at http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/598 9915.htm [siliconvalley.com]
  • by cfulmer (3166) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:40PM (#6097250) Homepage Journal
    So, there are going to be two possible things that can come of this: One, the media companies will be effective at giving people what they want. In this case, both consumers and the media companies win.

    The other option is that media companies are not effective at giving people what they want. In this case, people will stop listening to them and the media companies will lose. Consumers will lose a little in that the radios in their cars will become pretty much useless. However, they'll be able to branch out into other forms of entertainment -- DVDs, video games, independent music, web surfing, and so on. The real winners will be the companies that figure out how to give consumers what they want.

    I think that one can make a pretty good argument that the media ownership rules have outlived their usefulness. When each city only had 4 TV stations, a dozen radio stations and one newspaper, the rules made some sense because it guaranteed a wider variety of information and entertainment. But now, if I don't like what's on my local radio station, I can stream music from some independent station across the country. If I think the news from my local ABC news/newspaper/6 favorite radio stations is biased, there are a thousand options for me on the internet.

    I'd argue that local broadcast media (TV/radio) and local newspapers are something of an anachronism anyway, for everything but the local stuff. I don't receive the local paper, because I can go online and read the news (for free). I rarely watch network TV because I have 50 cable stations and I'd rather watch Comedy Central than ABC.

    To me, this seems to be equivilant to complaining about how few choices we have in bus and train transportation, while ignoring the fact that we have so many choices in cars, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, airplanes, taxis, rollerskates, subways and so on.
  • by lindner (257395) <lindner@inuus.com> on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:41PM (#6097256) Homepage
    So, expect to see a big decline in local content, especially if you live in a smaller market. Check out what happened in Minot North Dakota [commoncause.org] in January 2002.


    In Minot, North Dakota, a train derailed in the wee hours of a cold January morning in 2002. After the accident, Minot was covered in a toxic cloud of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer that killed one person. But when local law enforcement officials tried to warn the community by calling radio station KCJB, they couldn't get through to anyone. Finally, local officials reached station staff by calling them at home, but the snafu lost valuable time.

    Media giant Clear Channel owns all six of Minot's radio stations. Local news for the radio public in Minot is now served by one full-time news employee staffing all of the city's stations. So when an emergency struck, local radio in Minot struck out.


  • NPR (Score:5, Informative)

    by loomis (141922) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:41PM (#6097261)
    Just a friendly reminder to try your local national public radio stations. Although these stations aren't typically going to play current new music, often they do indeed run programs which feature new artists in various genres. Their website's music section, which lists upcomming scheduled music radio programs, reviews, and other things, is here [npr.org].

    At NPR's website [npr.org], one can enter their zip code and your local NPR frequency will be shown to them.

    On a side note, Clear Channel. Good Lord. Anyone here from Cleveland or familiar with the once-mighty WMMS? It was, during the late 60's and throughout the 70's and 80's, a great station. After several takovers and a seeming going-off-the-air-forever-stunt, Clear Channel picked them up. Today it is this pop-metal station that is the same format in every city. It is a really sad skeleton of a once-revolutionary radio station.

    Loomis
  • by niola (74324) <jon@niola.net> on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:42PM (#6097275) Homepage
    According to this [yahoo.com] story at Yahoo, News Corp and Viacom are already in violation of the 35% reach rules as a result of mergers:

    News Corp. and Viacom Inc., which owns CBS and UPN, stand to benefit from a higher national TV ownership cap because mergers have left them above the 35 percent level. Those companies, along with NBC, persuaded an appeals court last year to reject that cap and send it back to the FCC for revision.

    Basically they merged, never divested some stations to become compliant, and have tying up the courts with appeals.

    All this FCC decision does is take it out of the courts and make the mega-media companies happy. They have been breaking the rules all along and instead of punishment, they get rewarded. This decision does nothing good for us, the consumers, who OWN the airwaves.

    Let us not forget that airwaves, just like public lands, are owned by all of us, the people.

    There was a time that in exchange for having a broadcast license, a radio or television station used to have to file reports to show that they were airing programming in the public interest. Now they simply fill out a postcard for the FCC every 5 years or so. Basically they use OUR airwaves for THEIR profit and we get LESS options as a result.

    If you want to make change, get out and vote. Call your senator or representative and let them know you are displeased. Believe it or not, they DO listen. They may not respond to every message, but they do keep a tally on how may letters they receive per a given subject and with enough letters, they will do something.

    --Jon
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:44PM (#6097303)
    10,000 radio & TV stations
    1,000 channels
    100 years of broadcast history
    10< owners
    And still nothing to watch.
  • Variety (Score:3, Funny)

    by uslinux.net (152591) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:46PM (#6097328) Homepage
    The Good Ol' Boys (of Media) announced today that their formats will now be expanding. "We've got both type of music - country and western."
  • by Tenebrous (119888) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:46PM (#6097333)
    Double plus good, that! Looks like news, sounds like news, but there's no news in it.

    He who controls the media, controls the people.
  • No surprise here (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Arcturax (454188) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:50PM (#6097367)
    Thus continues the fall of America into bland mediocrity, and that is at best. I wouldn't be surprised if they manage to kill the new Low Power FM (LPFM) regulation next.

    So it seems that the internet will continue to be the only source or real news and music anymore.

    Hopefully people will finally get sick of the drudge TV and radio have become and demand things be put back the way they were. I mean seriously, look at what crap cable is now.

    I have Time Warner Cable in Cincinatti, the standard cable and it makes me want to puke.

    I get a few local channels which of course play crap. I've got CSPAN which comes in full of bars in the image, not that I watch that anyway unless I need to get to sleep fast. I've got three religious channels, which to 95% of the world is unwatchably boring, not to mention I'm not Christian anyway. I've got two PBS channels, which probably are better viewing than most the rest of it put together. A few crap movie channels like TBS and TNN and TNT. Discover channel, comedy central, cartoon network and news. That is IT. Oh and I have nine channels above 70 which show a test pattern 24/7, one of which has someone chanting the local weather over it. I pay about $40 a month for this "privilage".

    If it were not the only way to get high speed internet where I am at, I would not even fucking bother with cable. I only wish I had enough techy neighbors to get a bunch of us together and buy our own T1 and set up a wireless neighborhood access point... Sadly, all my neighbors tech expertise ends at giving their John Deere an oil change.
  • by shivianzealot (621339) on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:51PM (#6097377)

    Look on the bright side, kids; people in my area can, between two stations, watch The Simpsons four times on the average weekday, and soon maybe six or ten!

    I for one, am quite pleased with this decision. It is a great day for Sienfeld re-reuns.

  • by zentec (204030) <zentec@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:52PM (#6097395)
    The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and this one is no different. While I applaud the intent, the implementation is disasterous.

    For starters, the broadcasters have claimed for years that attrition due to cable TV and DBS broadcasters was eating into revenues. True.

    They also claimed that this was likely to hurt smaller-market and independent broadcasters the most. True.

    What the broadcasters *didn't* tell you is that they own many of the cable channels that are hurting them. So at best, the claim that over-the-air broadcasting is in trouble is only a half-truth. It is in trouble, but they are the ones who have made it so.

    The intent of the FCC is to hopefully be able to allow smaller-market and independent stations continued operations because they'll be part of a larger group ownership. This will ostensibly allow the smaller station lower operating and programming costs. True.

    Unfortunately, what they don't tell you is that this requires that the independent and local programming be replaced with mass-produced content or full-network programming. It'll also mean loss of jobs as production and operations staff is moved to primary stations.

    Worse, this does nothing to solve the original problem. Michael Powell stated in a recent interview that he was concerned that in many markets, you don't get to watch local sports teams without ponying-up $60 for basic cable services. Well Mr. Chairman, I hold the FCC responsible for this problem. First, the Commission let cable companies like Comcast, or mostly-cable outlets like Fox Sports, bid on the rights to sports broadcasts. Not to mention that the FCC simply refuses to reign-in the outrageous costs of cable and DBS services, claiming a free-market will solve the problem.

    So instead of fixing what's really wrong, the FCC applies a giant band-aid and sticks head in sand.

  • by peatbakke (52079) <peat@pe[ ]org ['at.' in gap]> on Monday June 02, 2003 @12:53PM (#6097410) Homepage
    So, my home town had an advertising company that had a virtual monopoly on bill boards. It was kind of irritating. Billboard space was very expensive, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for small companies to advertise their services. .. and now a brief tangent ..

    The broadcast industry derives their money from advertising. Their goal is not to provide good programming .. their goal is to attract the maximum number of eyeballs to their advertising spots. It's all about the advertising. Now, what happens when people loose interest in your single TV channel in a market? You have two options: roll the dice and try to develop a popular TV show, OR, buy another channel, also flooded with crap, but guaranteeing a sharp increase the number of eyes who are looking at your channels. Suddenly, your advertising space becomes much more attractive.

    Once a company has a monopoly in a closed market (such as broadcast television -- the FCC isn't allocating any more frequencies for that), they no longer have any incentive to produce good programming if they're making enough money from their advertisements. ... so, back to our billboards ...

    Clear Channel bought our local monopolistic billboard company, almost as soon as the state (or city, I forget) rubberstamped an approval on their monopoly, and the city no longer lets people build more billboards within the city limits. Another closed market.

    Clear Channel now owns a significant percentage of our local radio stations, the majority of our billboards, our major ticket sales systems, and several other major media holdings.

    They have no reason to keep prices down, because there are enough big companies and non-profits (read: write offs) here to keep them going strong as they increase their prices due to the recession and/or inflation.

    They have no reason to improve their programming.

    And now, the chairman of ClearChannel, makes this response to the further deregulation of the broadcast industry:

    "Clear Channel is deeply dissapointed with today's FCC vote to re-regulate the radio industry. While the FCC is supposed to act in the public interest, today they missed the mark by a mile."

    (from their web site)

    Wow. What can I say?
  • by jackjumper (307961) on Monday June 02, 2003 @01:01PM (#6097487)
    Is the recent mistreatment of the Dixie Chicks. The head of Cumulus Media, which owns 41 radio stations, decided himself that none of the stations would play the Dixie Chicks any more.

    See this link [tennessean.com] for more on this. What we see and hear is decided by corporate heads and lawyers.

    Expect to hear (or to not hear in this case) more of this.
  • by BeBoxer (14448) on Monday June 02, 2003 @01:15PM (#6097670)
    Really, there isn't anything to worry about. ClearChannel wouldn't ever mis-report the news. They are more than happy to even put the news of FCC's "vote to re-regulate the radio industry" right on their home page [clearchannel.com]

    Wait, "re-regulate". WTF?
  • by dmomo (256005) on Monday June 02, 2003 @01:48PM (#6098051) Homepage
    From clearchannel.com [clearchannel.com]:

    Clear Channel is deeply disappointed with today's FCC vote to re-regulate the radio industry. While the FCC is supposed to act in the public interest, today they missed the mark by a mile. This FCC action will extinguish the substantial consumer benefits brought on by radio deregulation

    What's up with that? I can't help but wonder what this stinks of. Are they trying to look like the "good guy", while secretly getting in position to reap the rewards, or do they fear a bigger competitor taking the market away?
  • by Sanity (1431) * on Monday June 02, 2003 @01:59PM (#6098150) Homepage Journal
    In a recent NPR interview Powell responded to the fact that Clear Channel had taken over radio by saying "Yes, Clear Channel is a problem, but there is only one such company". I mean, that is like saying "Sure, Microsoft is a problem but at least there is only one of them"! Of course there is only one of them, they are a bloody monopoly!.

    These neo-Conservatives work on the belief that an unrestricted market will be the cure for all ills, yet the closer we get to this situation - the worse everything is! A market that relies on a government enforced artificial monopoly will never be unrestricted. If they really wanted the airwaves to be an unrestricted market, they should let anyone broadcast without restriction.

  • Remember when.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by dacarr (562277) on Monday June 02, 2003 @02:23PM (#6098542) Homepage Journal
    Once upon a time, Clear Channel Communications owned a Santa Monica, CA station named "Channel 103.1" (KACD/KBCD) - they played a format they called "world class rock", mostly a mish-mash of various music. Lotta classic rock, ran the gamut on such like that. They moved to broadband after a while, and CC allocated the calls and frequency (103.1 MHz FM) to a mexican radio station.

    They're now gone. The broadband audio stream [worldclassrock.com] is now a feed from Denver station KBCO. Same format, but the LA foundation is long gone, as are the DJ's that were there. (For those who know the station, I think Nicole Sandler is working somewhere in a New Mexico station as their Program Director. But I digress.)

    Why do I mention this, off topic though it may seem? Because the slashdot blurb is right - there isn't any more diversity on the radio unless you go to public radio, college stations, or the AM band. The broadcast stations are picking up their money on low-quality music because that's what somebody $ay$ is popular.

    And the RIAA has the audacity to say that, if I want to decide what I listen to in CD's, I should base my decisions on what's on the radio. In that case, how about I give them The Finger, and listen to these guys [kkjz.org] (a jazz station in Long Beach) - and donate when I can.

  • Hearings to be Held (Score:3, Informative)

    by Irvu (248207) on Monday June 02, 2003 @05:13PM (#6100590)
    According to Salon [salon.com] (ad clickthrough required), John McCain has scheduled a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee for this Wednesday. All 5 commissioners including Powell will be there. Your opinions can be sent to Sen. McCain here [senate.gov]. The Commerce Committee's listing is here [senate.gov]. While it does include Fritz Hollings (D-Disney) It also includes such high-profile opponents as Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Ted Stevens (Alaska). Congress can still stall this. It isn't over yet.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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