Microradio, Today and Tomorrow

FCC Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps were in Seattle on November 30th to take more public testimony on the agency’s ongoing media ownership rules review. Reclaim the Media, packed the main auditorium of the Seattle Public Library and provided the Commissioners with four hours’ worth of testimony.

Just two weeks before the FCC’s visit, RtM also organized the Northwest Community Radio Summit, which featured three days of workshops on a wide range of issues. One of those was on The Case for Free Radio in the 21st Century” (1:00:34, 10.4 MB), hosted by members of the Free Radio Olympia collective. It provided a short overview of the history of unlicensed broadcasting and some of the more popular rationales for why it’s still advantageous to be a radio pirate in a post-LPFM world. Read More

News Potpourri

A confluence of busyness this semester has swept aside my site-update time. I’m almost caught up with the major stuff, though the regularity of updates will remain slow for the foreseeable future, and more general site-maintenance is on hiatus. Which is funny, because back when this site actually paid for itself, I only updated it about once a week, though it was a lot smaller lo those nearly ten years ago.

That being said, here’s a highlight of things that are now up to speed: Read More

FCC Report-Spiking Redux

As if last week’s bombshell did not do enough to tarnish the legitimacy of the FCC, now comes word that a second media ownership study did not see the light of day back during the agency’s last go-round on the subject.

The funny thing is, this newly-unearthed report – Review of the Radio Industry” – doesn’t tell us anything that we didn’t already know, which is how consolidation has decimated radio since the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. When regulators find themselves threatened to the point where they go out of their way to cover up the obvious, you know things are f*cked up to an insane degree. Read More

Mikey Powell, Document-Shredder

During the FCC’s mostly-failed media ownership revision-quest of 2003, the agency cooked up a bunch of “research” to justify trying to let big media grow even bigger. However, one report with real integrity never made it out the door.

mikeymodelsThe agency’s Media Bureau studied local television news coverage, and tallied up the amount of actual local news stations produced, and correlated that to station ownership. It turns out that locally-owned stations produce as much as 33 hours more local news per year than stations owned by chains or networks. The study also concluded that cross-ownership – the ownership of a TV station and/or newspaper and/or radio by one company in a single market – did nothing to enhance a TV station’s local news coverage. In fact, cross-owned properties more often than not produce less local news. Read More

When Media Ownership Means Life and Death

Every year, for the last quarter-century, teachers in the Mexican state of Oaxaca converge on the capital city of the same name to remind the politicians that they exist. Oaxaca is very poor, mostly indigenous, and ruled like a colony by the Mexican central government. The teachers’ convergence is thus both widely-known and respected, but this year it’s taken a dramatic turn.

The teachers have been on strike since late May, seeking relief from a crumbling educational infrastructure and benefits for the students they serve. To force home the point, the teachers set up a tent metropolis in greater Oaxaca, effectively occupying the center city.

It should be noted here that Mexico has long embraced unlicensed broadcasting as an organizing and educational vehicle. In Oaxaca alone some three dozen stations broadcast regularly. They are openly operated and supported by a variety of groups, even though they are technically illegal. The teachers’ union set up a such a station, Radio Plantón, after last year’s convergence. Read More