Just As I Thought

Just one more about media consolidation

By now you must have read about the pro-war rallies being instigated by corporate radio behemoth Clear Channel – the company which has completely eliminated the idea of local radio. This is an example of what we’re up against as the FCC, headed by Michael Powell, dismantles all the rules governing broadcast ownership. Soon, all radio stations will be owned by a huge corporation like Clear Channel. Not only will there be nothing worth listening to, but there will be no more alternative for news and information – gee, kind of like Iraqi TV? Here’s more from the Post:

In recent days, syndicated radio host Glenn Beck has instigated “Rallies for America” in cities across the country, which he says are grass-roots gatherings to support U.S. troops at war in Iraq.

But that Beck’s boss is radio giant Clear Channel Communications Inc. — whose executives have ties to the Bush administration and which has business before the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission — has raised eyebrows among some commentators and media watchers.

The connections go something like this:

Beck, 39, whose political talk show is broadcast locally on WTNT (570 AM) and on more than 100 stations around the country, is employed by Premiere Radio Networks Inc., his syndicator. Premiere is owned by Clear Channel, the nation’s largest radio chain, with more than 1,200 stations, including its legal maximum of eight in Washington, which includes WTNT.

Clear Channel is based in San Antonio. A significant stockholder is Thomas O. Hicks, who bought the Texas Rangers from George W. Bush when Bush was governor. Former Republican congressman J.C. Watts was named to the Clear Channel board in February, joining Democrats such as Vernon Jordan.

The gatherings come as Clear Channel is asking the FCC to lift ownership regulations that would allow it to grow, raising concerns about whether a change would further stifle the diversity of opinion heard over the air.

In addition to its 1,200 radio stations, Clear Channel owns 38 television stations, 41 concert venues and thousands of billboards, allowing it to exert considerable muscle in the entertainment industry.

In yesterday’s New York Times, columnist Paul Krugman wrote of Beck’s rallies: “The company appears to be using its clout to help one side in a political dispute that deeply divides the nation.”

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