People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

Whoring for WWL

Posted by schroeder915 on November 10, 2006

Actually, to be precise, we’re whoring our democracy to corporate media — Entercom in this case. We’ve sold a vital forum for education, enlightened entertainment, and the exchange of ideas that make our democracy healthy, to a bunch of corporate pimps who are only interested in maximizing their profit.

Whenever corporate media owners argue that ownership rules should be relaxed, they tell us that they need more media outlets so that a “synergy” effect can occur, where they can earn more money, and produce better content. They argue that they should be allowed more channels on the radio dial and more TV stations and more newspapers in the same market. Let the market decide what we read and hear, they say. The “free market” always obtains the best result, right?

Wrong.

And what do we have here in New Orleans, at a time when we need more information than ever to rebuild our lives, our neighborhoods, and our homes? What do we have now that Pennsylvania-based Entercom corporation owns six of our radio stations? More news? Better news?

Wrong again.

We have a company sitting on six radio licenses, producing as little original content as they can get away with selling to advertisers.

We have Entercom using three New Orleans radio licenses to broadcast the same content.

I could, and I have, taken issue with the objectivity and knowledge of WWL hosts as they interview their guests. Actually, we need not just better discussions about the range of survival issues New Orleans residents are challenged with on a daily basis, we need more discussions. Instead, WWL is feeding us the same crap on three stations. Hell — why don’t they just play Rush Limbaugh 24/7?

We citizens own the airwaves. Not just anyone can start broadcasting. If you did, the FCC would shut you down and issue you a massive fine. You have to apply for a license to broadcast, and in that license application (or renewal), you have to prove how you’re going to serve the community.

WWL could make a very good argument for how it’s serving the community — on WWL 870 AM. But when WWL’s management decides that they’re just going to re-run the same content on two other stations — 105.3 FM and 1350 AM, calling it “on demand” programming that gives us “more access,” they’re lying. They’re not giving us more content, they’re sitting on additional radio licenses that they’re not using effectively to serve the community.

WWL has a lot of crappy programming in its schedule. If it wants to re-run programs, it should kill those crappy programs and do it there. Instead, WWL killed Air America Radio, the only alternative to Republican perspectives on the radio dial. I don’t know if WWL management made that decision, or if Entercom made the decision. The bottom line is that the radio dial is far from being run by “liberal media.” It’s a sickening, stagnant dumpster for the most rank trash that broadcasters think they can get away with. That’s why we need alternatives.

People can take issue with the format of Air America, but as long as we don’t have an enforcement mechanism to make sure that what goes out over our airwaves isn’t just partisan vitriole, we deserve alternatives. Ronald Reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine. Small wonder why he did that, when it opened the door for the partisan rants of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on our public airspace. Whether you like their kind or not, Limbaugh and Hannity always promote a Republican agenda, and it’s just not right for America to allow partisans for one party or another to control what we hear.

The next time you hear an argument by corporate media that they should be allowed to own more media outlets, remember this: They’re not asking for more de-regulation, they’re actually asking for more regulation. They’re not saying everyone should get to have a broadcasting license, they’re saying they should be allowed to own more. They’re asking the government to allow them to own more media, not for the public’s benefit, but for their own private profit.

A truly deregulated market would be the kind that existed before the FCC was created to restore order. Anyone who wanted a radio station could broadcast, and chaos ensued. Every department store or ham operator who wanted to start a station could. The technology is actually very simple, and the cost to run a station is relatively inexpensive. The FCC created order out of that chaos by creating the licensing process. That’s why, when someone wants to start a radio station, they have to demonstrate that they’re serving the public.

We need to go back to that principle — that broadcasters have a responsibility to serve the public in measurable and meaningful ways — by creating original content, and answering the civic concerns of the communities they serve. I argue that cable monopolies should have to demonstrate how they’re serving the public too.

If Entercom can’t provide original content to broadcast, then it should turn over it’s radio licenses to the community.

Imagine the good that could be done if the Northwest Carrollton Neighborhood Association owned a radio license, or the Broadmoor Improvement Association, or ACORN, or the Preservation Resource Society, or Common Ground, or the United Way, or a collection of students in high schools, or any number of organizations that could be formed to generate original, stimulating, vital information that responds to the needs of New Orleans.

WWL has a lot to answer for. Entercom has a lot to answer for. Every commercial broadcaster in New Orleans has a lot to answer for.

We should make them answer!

How are they serving our communities, our neighborhoods? And could we serve ourselves better if they had to give us their broadcasting licenses?

Just because we’ve had to live with depraved media so long doesn’t mean that we should be complacent.

We in New Orleans know what complacency gets you in the end.

This is a time for change. We New Orleanians are leading the way for a new America. As New Orleans goes, so goes the rest of the nation. We can forge a new direction for a new nation, in which a new government responds to the needs of our communities, not donors’ needs; where we care for the environment because we realize that healthy environments support healthy communities; where the marketplace of ideas isn’t just a garbage disposal for corporate boardrooms, but a place where open discussion opens up our minds to new solutions for our communities.

One by one, we’re knocking down the crooked walls of our old city, while preserving the structures that support healthier communities. Gone are the levee fiefs. Gone are the seven assessors. Gone are many of the self-serving politicians who saw public office as a way to build up their personal bank accounts.

Now we need to create the conditions for a better dialog on our airwaves.

Speak up for your community. Speak up for a vibrant public square. We own the airwaves, and those who are given the privilege of using them, ought to answer to us for how they benefit our communities.

Send a message to corporate media that we want our airwaves back. Tell Entercom and WWL that they should stop sitting on three radio licenses to re-run the same content. Tell them to restore Air America Radio so that we have an alternative to Rush Limbaugh’s oxycontin-laced hate-filled rants.

Entercom: 866-490-3153

WWL: (504) 260-1870; (504) 593-6376

WSMB: (504) 593-2100

The Times-Picayune: letters@timespicayune.com

Related:

Dems win, Entercom kills progressive radio

 
News for two-track minds

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5 Responses to “Whoring for WWL”

  1. f p said

    great video, they talk a lot about radio in here too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rNg_FVaPek

  2. BobGS said

    Don’t know much about blogs but I think we need to march on WWL. Any takers?

  3. BobGS said

    Maybe I could leave a place and time to organize if any one is interested?

  4. barbawit said

    The media here, especially the TV media has been weak. They should be putting pressure on government to get things moving aroung here. They have been pretty easy on the poeple who are supposed to be getting things done.

  5. KamaAina said

    Imagine the good that could be done if the Northwest Carrollton Neighborhood Association owned a radio license, or the Broadmoor Improvement Association, or ACORN, or the Preservation Resource Society, or Common Ground, or the United Way, or a collection of students in high schools, or any number of organizations that could be formed to generate original, stimulating, vital information that responds to the needs of New Orleans.

    That was precisely the idea behind the new Low Power FM Service. Naturally corporate broadcasters like Entercom and Cheap Channel fought it tooth and nail. They did succeed in gutting it to the point where no frequencies for LPFMs are available in New Orleans at all (even though there are several blank spaces on the FM dial).

    As for ACORN, back in my N.O. days (’89-’91), they had a project to get as many full broadcast licenses into community hands as possible. Not much came of it then, but now, there is at least one N.O. commercial station that has been dark since Katrina, if not before. Perhaps someone could make them an offer? Then the station could serve as a time broker, with the Broadmoor show followed by the high school show (with band music, one hopes), and so forth.

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