Clear Channel Wants To Relax Ownership Rules; Or Its Elected Friends Say The Public Will Be At Risk
from the more-more-more-more dept
Clear Channel's overwhelming ownership of radio stations in many markets leads to an awful lot of criticism who feel the company has taken over the airwaves, often bringing the quality down to the lowest common denominator and even removing the "local" from local DJs. So, it may upset people to read that Matthew Lasar has alerted us that Clear Channel is working hard to change FCC rules to allow it to take possession of even more radio stations in certain markets. However, the company does have a reasonable point. Unlike just a few years ago, there are many more legitimate competitors to the traditional terrestrial radio market -- and the old rules limiting ownership in a market may not make nearly as much sense any more. Where the story gets a bit weird, though, is in the political support Clear Channel has lined up behind its proposal. The quotes from politicians include some bizarre claims about how important it is for the FCC to allow Clear Channel to own 10 radio stations in New York City rather than 8. Apparently, without that change, free terrestrial radio won't be "capable of fulfilling its public interest responsibilities," according to Rep. Fred Upton of Illinois. Not only that, but a group of elected officials together filed a combined letter stating that "Given Americans' reliance on free for both local news and community-oriented programming, as well as essential 'lifeline' information during emergencies, natural disasters, we urge the FCC to address this evolving market situation." Are they really suggesting that if Clear Channel remains stuck with only 8 stations in a city, radio will somehow be less of a "lifeline" of information during emergencies? It's not clear that these limits still make sense any more, given the additional competition from many different directions -- but with such hyperbole in support of Clear Channel's position, it might make you wonder what's wrong with just being honest?