What Do They Really Fear?

Friday, February 16, 2007 at 07:47 AM

This is a sort of expansion of my comments to Lee's piece detailing this Weyrich and his dread fear of a return of The Fairness Doctrine....

But it's not just that which concerns them.

See, in those years pre-Raygun, radio and television stations operated differently, and to wit:

  1. The Fairness Doctrine. "Equal air time available for opposing views."
  2. Limited ownership: There was a limit set to how many of what a company could own, it was spelled out in specific numbers.
  3. Radio and television stations, to get their license and KEEP their license had to demonstrate to the FCC that they "operated in a manner benefitting the public's interests."

Raygun, that bumbling bozo set all that out the window before he left office, thus, enabling all sorts of unforeseen problems to later take place.

Station and network owners were pleased to see these all go, as it "cut into their profits".

Years later, this deregulation, coupled with advanced internet, I-pod and satellite technologies have rendered so much of these stations as obsolete. AM stations, for example, once dominated the markets, but have long since fallen off. You can't enjoy music with a limited bandwidth (7500Hz), so, AM stations left that behind for voice: News, sports, and now, propaganda.

FM stations, took over the music stuff, but with the advent of mp3's, the net, the web, Napster, and now satellite radio, oh, gosh, even they are suffering what AM went through: Customers packing it up to avoid JonBoy and Billy for continuous music with zero commercials.

Allowing these stations to purposely park hate-mongers on the air, coupled with mass ownership then seems a natural. Go to the FCC site and start investigating the owners and how many stations each own. It's stunning. Not 10, not 20, but some own over 100! Why?

Because it's a tax shelter, duh. Investors can hide their monies in such. Too, many of these statuons are "daisied" into loose networks, so, they purchase cheap but high-ratings programs (hate, of course) and then they get a good return. Like that. Easy as cutting plywood with a laser.

To renew, they no longer have to show they care about the public. That's gone. They can own as many stations as their budget permits. And, Doctrine now long gone, who cares what they air?

Such, then, is more about allowing Slimebaugh to go off on yet another wild lie about this or that. It's really about keeping alive a totally obsolete concept.

And what would happen if these three things were returned as they were prior-Raygun?

For one, outfits like Cumulus would file Chapter 11 immediately. They'd be forced to divest so many stations. Who, knowing all this would want to purchase just one? And compete with I-pods? The web? Napster? Satellite. Not me!

The AM band would go deadly silent, except in large market regions. This is happening already, where, in my area, there was once a steady racket all across the AM dial. Now? About three. Imagine if there was zero.

Thus, the owners of these "networks" would have to find buyers. Good luck, such an investment is a very bad one these days. Hence, the dial goes silent.

FM stations, too, would suffer this. Already, the once-crowded dial is falling off. Ratings are slipping, ad dollars are disappearing, listeners are going off to satellite and other media. A good investment, one FM station? Only for a short run, and then, in a big market, not a little town station.

So, we'd see the AM and FM dials going "dark" as they call it. What else would we see?

Television, too, would take a big hit. Again, many are owned in the multiples. They, too, have to really compete: The web, DVD's, dishes. A good investment? Again, no, not worth it, insufficent return for the dollars, yes.

So, it would appear deregulation is a sort of left-handed subsidy to prop up dying technology, eh?

Then, we come to "Oh, but wait, it gets worse!"

Imagine Bill O'Reilly with Michael Moore at his side, Sean Hannity pulling his hair out as Bill Mahr makes jokes about his "position". This is what Fairness would bring about, and for Faux, CNN, and the other networks, a disaster as they see it. Okay, I'd watch just to see Arianna Huffington make a monkey out of a few!

Even worse? Demonstrating that they all "fill a need in the public's eye". That, sadly, costs a lot of money to do. I recall, long years ago, stations would have gatherings open to the public, to get feedback as to what they did and didn't do. One can imagine Kos himself chewing CNN a new backside at such a conference, along with thousands of others who are, like me, convinced they publish nothing but PR for the White Slum.

Smoke cleared inside a year?
-The entire AM band, with a few choice exceptions in some markets are deadly silent.
-The FM band would then follow.
-Corporations that own stations would file Chapter 11 at warp.
-And we'd take bets on how long poor old Sean could stand Bill Mahr without a fistfight.

It's a tough call, but we once subsidized many things, maybe it's time to stop subsidizing antiquated technology and let it go the way of the poor Dodo. Too, it would be a refreshing change to actually see and hear.....the truth.

Many would complain. I'd ride it right back in their faces: "You like capitalism, right? Suffer! It also concerns losses, you moron!"

Let them lose, I say. At stake is more than keeping alive AM, FM and TV stations. At stake? An end to PR, an end to hate.

And I'd like that very much, indeed.