Sorry for the lack of activity, but it's been a taxing week at work. I've got a lot to post this week, though, including an article on the making of the only-to-this-date midget Western, "The Terror of Tinytown."
Some folks on the right wing like to talk about how the press in general is left leaning. Generally, I find a lot of reporters to be mistrustful of anyone in power – left or right – and the corporate ownership of most media tends to produce products that advance their own status quo agendas.
The Center for American Progress (CAP) recently released an analysis of talk radio that is pretty eye opening for folks who feel that somehow talk radio isn’t “big” media and that it isn’t dominated by a single point of view.
Take a moment to go to http://www.americanprogress.org/pressroom/releases/2007/06/radio_release.html and read the whole report for yourself.
Here’s one of their major points: radio stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission are supposed to serve their local area. Are they actually serving the public good by running one kind of viewpoint and eliminating most local programming?
From the report: “Our analysis in the spring of 2007 of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners reveals that 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive.
“Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk—10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.
“A separate analysis of all of the news/talk stations in the top 10 radio markets reveals that 76 percent of the programming in these markets is conservative and 24 percent is progressive, although programming is more balanced in markets such as New York and Chicago…
“Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system, particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management…
“‘There is little free speech or free choice in a market system that pushes out one-sided information 90 percent of the time on the radio,’ said John Halpin, senior fellow at CAP. ‘Radio stations are licensed to operate in the public interest. Promoting one point of view over all others does not meet any reasonable public-interest standard. We need to restore the original purpose of broadcast licensing – to ensure that radio stations are responsive to local and community needs.’”
Interestingly, they found that corporate-controlled radio is conservative, but radio stations owned locally or by women and minorities tend to be progressive.
Here are their suggestions: “This analysis suggests that any effort to encourage more responsive and balanced radio programming will first require steps to increase localism and diversify radio station ownership to better meet local and community needs. We suggest three ways to accomplish this:
• Restore local and national caps on the ownership of commercial radio stations.
• Ensure greater local accountability over radio licensing.
• Require commercial owners who fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations to pay a fee to support public broadcasting.”
This was published in one of our papers on Monday morning and I already have received a letter saying that liberals want to supress freedom of speech by eliminating conservative radio. I'm convinced no matter what I write, people simply read what they want to believe.
© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs