Restore the Public Airwaves to the PUBLIC

…the Telecommunications Act of 1996…enabled the handful of corporations dominating the airwaves to expand their power further. Mergers enabled tighter control of information…Never have so many been held incommunicado by so few. ~ Eduardo Galeano

“Liberal media” my ass.

I have an old-school transistor radio from Radio Shack. It’s cheap, instant, simple, portable and independent. It has the potential to be a powerful tool that doesn’t need electricity or an Internet connection.  In my city, there used to be three choices on the left side of the dial: a community radio station (small and disjointed), NPR (zzzzzz), and a solid commercial progressive news station with hosts including Thom Hartmann, Ed Schultz, Mike Malloy, Randi Rhodes, and Norman Goldman. The other perpetual stations are: music, sports, Christian, conservative, sports, conservative, Christian, sports, music, sports.

Then yesterday, in the middle of the Randi Rhodes show, the progressive news station flipped to a 24/7 sports format brought to us by Clear Channel, owned by Bain Capital. Now we are left with the sketchy community station (which carries Democracy Now!) that features news and progressive/local community talk weekday mornings. The rest of the time it broadcasts music. That’s because it’s non-commercial. It depends on people power to fund it. It represents what remains of the tiny corner of the PUBLIC airwaves after Bill Clinton signed the noxious Telecommunications Act of 1996.

This. Is. How. Americans. Get. Dumbed. Down. Hello. Not everyone has a smart phone, people. Internet access on a desktop or laptop is limited, as everyone knows. Right now I’m listening to a progressive news/talk station on iTunes on my laptop. The Fairness Doctrine is alive and well only on the Internet. Fortunately for everyone the rich, old, white men who have dominated the world for centuries are dying away and brilliant young tech-savvies are the future.

They’ve spent fortunes in an effort to erase our right to vote. It didn’t work. Their effort to squelch our right to free speech won’t work either.

Somewhere a long time ago I read (search terms aren’t pulling it up) that when Hitler came to power he distributed free radios to all Germans. These radios could only pick up one station: propaganda from Hitler’s regime. It seems suspicious to me that another progressive station is silenced by a private equity/vulture capitalist corporation after the people decided they preferred Obama to Romney. This was an unanticipated twist: the hollow, vindictive reaction of conservative programmers to wipe the public airwaves clean of the last vestige of good progressive radio in a mega-progressive city. It happened in San Francisco, just like Clear Channel is wiping away “liberal media” everywhere in the nation.  Can you say Schadenfreude?

Why should we care that the mass media has been deregulated and is owned overwhelmingly by a handful of large corporations? Because concentration of ownership in a few hands threatens competition and the diversity and localism of content. Find out more — watch the preview of Save KLSD, a documentary film about the grassroots activism to save San Diego’s progressive talk radio KLSD/AM1360, the lack of local, diverse content on our airwaves across America and the efforts to ensure broadcasters meet their public interest responsibilities. ~SAVE KLSD

A good resource: eff.org

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